In the 1996 Independence Day, a race of hideous, tyrannical aliens tried to take over the Earth and ruin our Fourth of July barbecues, and while they succeeded in destroying nearly every major city across the globe, they lost the overall fight. Twenty years after that first contact, director Roland Emmerich returns with Independence Day: Resurgence, a sequel of "This time, it's personal!" proportions. In the grand tradition of movie franchises, Resurgence is a lot like the original, but worse.
These are mostly disaster movies, but thankfully the aliens bring with them some science fiction, too. We know virtually nothing about the enemy from our first encounter, except that they have highly advanced technology, they speak telepathically and they are psychotically bent on eliminating the human race in order to gluttonously consume our resources. Not unlike the world of Star Trek, Resurgence ends with the vague promise that humanity will be henceforth united in their fight against a common enemy, and that's a future world I'm interested in catching up on.
Much of the original cast has "resurged," with the notable exception of Will Smith. (I won't tell you how the script gets rid of him. This is a bland disappointment you need to see and feel for yourself.) Jeff Goldblum returns as David Levinson, the world's foremost expert on alien defense. His very Jewish father (Judd Hirsch) is around too, working the nursing home book tour circuit. Vivica A. Fox's character works in a hospital or something now; I didn't even know she was interested in medicine. Her son, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), is a star Air Force pilot, alongside his friends, Jake (Liam Hemsworth) and Patricia (Maika Monroe).
- What a beautiful sunset.
Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) seemed really dead back in 1996, after the captured alien broke loose from the operating table, used his body like a ventriloquist and then hurled him across the room, but surprise, he isn't. "We have alien guns now?!" Dr. Okun exclaims when he wakes up from his 20-year coma. Indeed, we've incorporated their technology into our space and military programs (one and the same, really) and world leaders are united, as evidenced by their multination conference calls.
Sela Ward joins the cast as President Lanford, a bellicose, decisive ruler who shoots first and asks questions later. Bill Pullman as President Whitmore is still around, but he suffers from some sort of Alien Telepathy PTSD, and so spends much of the movie raving about the impending second invasion with an unkempt beard. He's right, of course. All the captured alien equipment is going haywire again and soon the world is besieged with a mothership that is "3,000 miles in diameter."
I think the filmmakers listened to the science nerds because, at least this time around, the tremendous ship has an effect on the earth's gravitational pull. If nothing else, Independence Day: Resurgence runs at a steady clip. Still, I've heard people opine on the internet that it takes "forever" for the alien invasion to begin. It really doesn't; it only feels that way because we're made to suffer through 10,000 razor-thin plotlines and character arcs before settling into the carnage.
At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if the movie is "good" or not. You're on Team America: You're going to see this movie sooner or later. There's no point in fighting it. Best of all, the ending sets itself up for a third film, so get pumped for that! Who knows? Maybe in another 20 years, this franchise will evolve a higher intelligence.
Independence Day: Resurgence continues at the Carmike 12 and Pharaohplex.