Independence Day: Resurgence

In Films by Alex Moss Editor

Twenty years ago the original Independence Day turned the summer blockbuster volume up to eleven. It’s taken a long time for another close encounter to rear its head but after all that time the wait is over as Independence Day: Resurgence finally breaks through the atmosphere in a behemoth, planet consuming ball of fire. But after all this time does the Earth still have an appetite for director Roland Emmerich’s brand of global disaster movies?

The plot is essentially a retread of the original albeit twenty years down the line. So while the likes of Jeff Goldblum’s scientist and Bill Pullman’s traumatised former President play a part the grunt work, like so many re-booting sequels since Star Wars, falls on the shoulders of the new generation.
You know who they are because in a film such as this apparently there is little point in painting them in anything other than stereotypes. These lot are quite literally the children of the first film’s revolution against the aliens. So you have brooding heroic type, in the shape of Will Smith’s son from the first film James T. Usher. The cocky, cool guy in the dashing form of Liam Hemsworth. The tough daughter of the former president, and love interest of course, Maika Monroe and then a host of geeky best friends, and a collection of characters from all over the globe. To show how the world has united against the common enemy, not because the producers want to cash in on the Chinese box office. That would be cynical.

There’s a kind of macguffin in there about an artificial intelligence sent to earth but essentially the aliens are back to wreak revenge with an even bigger ship. It’s big, it’s brash it’s probably exactly what you’d expect of an Independence Day sequel. And as such if you’re here just to see things blow-up you’re not going to be disappointed. But you’re also unlikely to be thrilled. Because this really is blockbusting by numbers.

Where the first film was so exciting and then fist-pumpingly satisfying was in its slow-burn build-up. You knew the aliens were going to attack but it was in no rush to get there. Instead it was happy to keep you hanging before unleashing White House destroying hell. What’s more the first film, which won an Oscar for its visual effects, utilised a perfect combination of miniature work and CGI. This time, such is the evolution of filmmaking, everything is CGI. It means there is a lack of tangible destruction to behold. Everything feels computerised, as if you’re watching a really long cut-scene from a big budget video game. That, combined with the cut-out and stick on characters, means the Resurgence feels depressingly flat, even in 3D.

If you love your summer blockbuster big and brainless then there’s enough here to be mildly enjoyable but Independence Day: Resurgence is unremarkable and never conjures the sheer thrills and joy of the original.