Independence Day: Resurgence – Mild fun that lacks the originality and humour of its predecessor.
Independence Day: Resurgence has copped a fair bit of flak since its release. Deservedly so in many respects – if you’re going to spend this much money making and promoting a movie I do expect a lot more from it, but to suggest this film rates below other recent, big-budget disappointments like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Gods of Egypt is doing it a grave disservice. It is better than a lot of things we’ve seen recently. Perhaps its biggest flaws are its lack of originality and that it has a penchant for trying to overachieve – it tries to do a bit too much with really not enough time to do it.
I saw this with my wife. She was very excited – loves the first Independence Day. She knows that whole ‘we shall not go quietly into the night’ speech given by Bill Pulman by heart. I had to listen to it all the way to the cinema. Kids, eh! Anyway, she came out a little disappointed. Her take – it lacked humour. This I can see. Jeff Goldblum’s character from the first film, David Levinson, is repeated here but now in a very different guise. As a survivor of the first film, and one of those responsible for mankind’s victory, he now lives a very different, far more serious life in this new world. As such, he just can’t be funny, and without him to play off, neither, really, can his father Julius (Judd Hirsch). Instead, the humour here falls to Floyd (Nicolas Wright) and his cliched but well worked relationship with African Warlord Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei).
William Fichtner as General Adams is another welcome newcomer to the cast, although his character could have been fleshed out a little more, and Sela Ward plays pretty much the same character she always plays, this time under the name President Lanford. The other major newcomers to the cast – Liam Hemsworth as hot-shot pilot Jake Morrison, Jessie T Usher as hot-shot pilot Dylan Hiller, Maika Monroe as hot-shot pilot…… ahhh, you get where I’m going. This is Top Gun with aliens, and while for the most part it works ok, as we come to the final 10-15 minutes of the film it lurches badly from improbably fun to impossibly silly.
The aliens are as they were in the first film, though perhaps a bit more effort to make the Queen maybe look not so much like the Queen from Aliens would have been welcome. The plot – a massive (way bigger then the first film) mother ship descends to Earth and starts drilling toward the Earth’s core to basically steal it, and thus destroying life on the planet. Well – maybe that’s one of those ‘overreach’ things I was talking about. It meant that the story had to fall within a very precise time frame. Maybe next time just have them trying to enslave us or steal our resources or something. It would probably tie together a lot more neatly.
The introduction of a SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT second alien species works ok, but my mind just harks back to Falling Skies when I see this. The movie also ends on a note that leaves us open to future films based on continued conflict with our alien enemy. It wouldn’t be the worst thing – maybe something Starship Troopers-like, but they’d need to expand the characters considerably, and just basically tell a better story.
Oh, and my wife says – bring back the funny!