Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

  • Time: 120 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman


We always knew they were coming back. After ‘Independence Day’ redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.


  • A millefeuille of blandness compared to the fist-pumping energy of its predecessor, Independence Day: Resurgence picks up 20 years after the events of the first film. Vanquishing the aliens has fostered a world where peace and togetherness have flourished. The United Nations have created the Earth Space Defense (ESD) as an early warning system against any future attacks and have fused the alien and human technologies to further shore up the planet’s defenses.

    Yet there’s a disturbance in the force. Former U.S. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) has been plagued with visions of alien symbols. So have African warlord Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei) and Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner), the latter of which has just awakened from a coma after 20 years. A mysterious ship approaches the ESD’s Moon defense headquarters – current president Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward) orders an attack despite protests from ESD Director David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), who believes that this ship belongs to another alien species than the one that invaded Earth all those years ago. Indeed, the ship is but a prelude to the appearance of a mothership 3000 miles in diameter that is intent on intergalactic domination.

    “They like to get the landmarks,” Levinson murmurs and returning director Roland Emmerich obligingly offers up the usual cornucopia of disaster porn. Buildings are lifted up and ripped apart, their rubble swirling amidst airplanes and bodies; tsunami-like waves snap bridges and skyscrapers into a million little pieces. Down goes the London Eye, down goes Tower Bridge, down goes the White House…flag (yes, the avalanche of debris was considerate enough to only damage the White House flag and not smash the White House to smithereens as per the first go-around). There’s some mumbo jumbo about the mothership wanting to get at the Earth’s core, which leads into claptrap about what needs doing to defeat the alien queen. “They’ve had 20 years to prepare,” Levinson intones, though he of all people should know by now that though humans, especially Americans, are good at kicking alien ass.

    There are people we’re meant to care about or at least keep track of. In addition to the characters that anchored the first film, there are some of their progeny. Whitmore’s daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe) is a former pilot turned presidential aide who cares after her father when she’s not telling boyfriend renegade ESD pilot Jake (Liam Hemsworth) to keep himself safe and repair the broken friendship between himself and Dylan (Jesse T. Usher), the son of the heroic fighter pilot played by Will Smith in the original film. There are secondary characters like Jake’s partner Charlie (Travis Tope), who becomes smitten with another fighter pilot, Rain (singer-actress Angelababy), and Floyd Rosenberg (Nicolas Wright), a nervous Nellie and a dead ringer for John Oliver. Levinson’s father Julius (Judd Hirsch) also returns, this time to unknowingly drive a busload of kids and one adorable dog into a zone intended as a trap for the alien queen. This section of the film yields the film’s best images as the alien queen, its tentacles flowing behind her, chases after the bus and summons her hive to protect her. Emmerich’s eye for scale is on full display here, but even this sequence may not be enough to justify the existence of Resurgence or its potential continuation of the franchise.

    If Smith’s absence is sorely missed, it’s not necessarily due to Smith being essential to this sequel but rather that no other actor in Resurgence steps up to inject the film with the same level of energy and charisma. There’s a reason Smith became a global superstar with Independence Day – the film was pure cheese but he sold it and he made you believe in it. Emmerich may have been banking on Hemsworth to do the same, but something dilutes in Hemsworth when he’s employing an American accent (observe him in the Australian film The Dressmaker where his displays a rugged and appealing charm nowhere to be found in any of his American-accented roles). Hemsworth has moments where he might make the cardboard character someone worth watching, but they are few and far between and often cut off by Emmerich focusing on another character or set of characters. The editing is akin to surfing channels – here’s Julius with the kids, here’s a fighter plane dodging falling debris, here’s Patricia with tears welling in her eyes, here’s another set of people being wiped out by the alien queen. The connective tissue is anaemic at best, and even the spectacle seems ho-hum. The only remarkable thing about the whole affair is the numerous depths of flatness and insipidness the filmmakers manage to plumb.

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  • In Independence Day: Resurgence (my latest review), twenty years has passed. Guess what, the aliens are still ticked off and looking for some sweet revenge. Now does that concept have to be so complicated? The five dudes hired to pen the script for “Resurgence” sure think so. This sequel to 1996’s original Independence Day will give you a heartache. Gone is the first film’s feel of a popcorn flick, gone is Roland Emmerich’s ability to shoot coherent action sequences this time around, gone is ID4’s Will Smith (that might have been a good decision on Will’s part), and gone from the first film is well, the fun. Independence Day: Resurgence has two many sci-fi ideals, too many characters, and way too many subplots (a mothership drilling a hole in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is one of many). Sure the CGI in the first outing seemed a little dated but at least it got the job done. Oh yeah, did I mention that the editing is sloppy too.

    Personally, I think Independence Day should of had a sequel come out ten years ago. With the passing of two decades, too much time has gone by. “Resurgence” almost feels like it has no true connection or transition from 1996’s original. Most of the troupers from the first installment are gone and their absence is never fully explained (Margaret Colin, James Duval, Harry Connick Jr., Adam Baldwin, and of course The Fresh Prince). The actors/actresses that stay on board aren’t exactly fleshed out as characters. Bill Pullman’s ex-President (Thomas J. Whitmore) is now a bearded whack job, Vivica A. Fox’s Jasmine went from a stripper to being a doctor (nice), Brent Spiner’s Dr. Okun is in a coma, and Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson is off somewhere in Central Africa. What happened earlier to these people is a mystery that we the audience, have to figure out. And how did the 2016 of Independence Day: Resurgence turn into the world of Blade Runner? The 2016 we presently live in now doesn’t look all technical and ultra-modern. We don’t have roving space vehicles, two hour trips to the moon, a Starship Troopers-like environment, and thousands of laser guns. Just saying.

    As for the special effects, well in “Resurgence” they aren’t bad. In the first Independence Day however, simplicity and attention to detail payed off much better. You don’t get to see landmarks blown up this time (previously it was The White House, the Empire State Building, the Capital Records Building, and the U.S. Bank Tower). I mean yeah a random city (or two) bites the dust but it happens so quickly. Nothing has time to completely resonate in the mind’s eye. Buildup is also absent in “Resurgence” because in the first flick, you waited nervously to see what was going to happen to our world, you know the destruction and humorous paranoia of it all. With Independence Day: Resurgence, there’s no anticipation of life termination and no one seems to be in that much danger because disaster sequences are cut so sparingly. They come off as remote and off-key.

    In terms of “Resurgence’s” Star Wars-like dogfights which carry over from 1996, well Emmerich feels the need to make them too chaotic. You don’t know which protagonist is shooting at which antagonist, what spaceship is flying where, and what extraterrestrial species is the head honcho or not. And when an important character dies (like madam president Sela Ward (spoiler)), we don’t know how or if it actually happened. Finally, did I mention the geography in “Resurgence”? Oh yeah, most of the actresses, actors, and side extras globetrot all over the country and/or planet Earth (the Moon too). You lose track of where they at any given moment. Presidents, the First Daughter, pilots, scientists, and lieutenants go from point a to point b so quickly you’d think they beamed themselves up like in Star Trek. Basically, this thing is a mess.

    Bottom line: Independence Day: Resurgence is 25 minutes shorter than the original Independence Day. It still manages to be less entertaining, polarizing, a little slower, and much more convoluted. If you think you’re entering the theater to see a summer blockbuster, think again. Highly ambitious, highly elaborate, and highly budgeted ($165 million) doesn’t always mean better. And by the way, do you remember the original Independence Day when Jeff Goldblum uttered the words, “don’t say oops”? Funny. The last word of that quote is what I said immediately after leaving “Resurgence’s” 4:30 showtime. Rating: 1 and a half stars.

    Of note: My favorite line in the original Independence Day involved a woman welcoming the aliens on top of a skyscraper by saying, “oh gosh I hope they bring back Elvis”. That got a laugh from me. Sadly, the hilarity in “Resurgence” is attempted again by unknown actors and it just doesn’t feel the same. Bummer.

    Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars

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  • It is the summer and all the movie companies want a blockbuster. For some reason they follow the dictum, “If it worked once, it’ll work again.” Not necessarily true. I thought the animated fish movie did very well. Not so much this time. When I sat down in the movie theater I was hoping that someone at the production company would have quietly gone completely mad and created an alien menace that was so insurmountable that everyone would die and the earth would explode. That would be something no one was looking for. But, alas, it was not meant to be.
    How five people, including the director, wrote this screenplay is beyond me. I wonder if someone did want the alien to win and they had to keep re-writing until someone realized it would be easier to just photocopy the previous script and change the names. But still five people? And four of them wrote the story. With what they ended up with why did it take more than one guy. Again, it’s mind boggling what might have been if they only had three or even two people.
    Roland Emmerich, all by himself, has come back to direct and he keeps a tight grip on the pacing. Sometimes it gets moving so fast it’s difficult to figure out who’s doing what but that’s in action sequences and since we know before the credits start who’s going to live and who’s going to die you can sit back and enjoy the action. The CG work is good but not something we haven’t seen before.
    Jeff Goldblum is the same as he always is but that’s pretty good. His character, David, seems incapable of not using a wise crack where a simple yes or no would suffice. Jud Hirsch as Julius is in the same mold which is good since these two actors are playing father and son. Too many of the actors just seemed to pop in and out as needed including Bill Pullman, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Brent Spiner, Robert Logia, and Vivica A. Fox. These actor were more props than characters. Liam Hemsworth’s Jake never seemed to take the events in the movie seriously. Nicolas Wright plays a bean counter named Floyd who is sucked into the action and responds well. But no one had any depth as far as their character was concerned.
    I give Independence Day Resurrection 3 redundancies out of 5. There’s a lot worse out there and this one looks pretty good on the surface but don’t scratch that surface because there’s another movie underneath.

  • “Are we dead? We’re okay. You peed in your pants? Uh, yeah. Yeah, me too.”

    I never thought I would miss Will Smith in a movie. Well, for everything there’s a first time. And damn, I missed our friend Smith in this sequel of the blockbuster from 1996. Not because of his acting talent or his good looks. But because of his dry humor and his sometimes hyperactive behavior. Smith was honored by the brief display of a picture somewhere in a presidential corridor. His absence in this film was due to a fatal accident during a test flight (Personally I think the paycheck was a disappointment to him). As a worthy successor his stepson Dylan (Jessie T. Usher and fortunately not Smith’s son Jaden himself) is summoned to help.

    The big difference with its predecessor, is the total lack of credibility and excitement. In the blockbuster of 1996, the alien invasion was so brilliantly portrayed, that if we ever expect something to happen like this, it’ll look exactly the same. In this movie everything is so over the top and out of proportion, that it starts to look ridiculous. For instance the dimensions of the alien ship. This giant ship covers almost a quarter of the planet. The advantage is that the devastation and ravages are so immense that the images of destruction are really impressive. I’m sure the CGI department was asked to get the maximum out of their computer systems. When those immense landing gears of the colossal spaceship dig into the earth’s surface, it provides hallucinatory images. Quite some mainland is plowed and a huge tsunami hurtles across the continents. Compared to this, the one in “San Andreas” was a tiny wave.

    About the story itself. Don’t expect too much content or groundbreaking innovations compared to the previous one. It’s more or less a second attempt of the alien warlords to conquer Earth and plunder resources. The only difference is that by studying the extraterrestrial material, left behind after the first confrontation, mankind has been able to develop their scientific knowledge drastically. The result is a mega plant on the moon in order to counter new attacks. The creation of a futuristic-looking society. A defense system around our planet by means of armed satellites. And the technology for intergalactic traveling at light speed. However, they didn’t realize that twenty years ago a distress signal was sent from an alien ship, situated in the African desert where African rebels waged a long war against Martians which were wandering in the desert. They researched alien technology thoroughly. But the disorder in the X-band frequency detected the moment the mother ship was destroyed, apparently was a hard nut to crack . The result is a second attack. An unstoppable attack according to former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) : “They are coming back. And this time we won’t be able to stop them”.

    The cast is a mixture of veterans who appeared in the old movie and a new generation. So you can see Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner again, as their twenty year older alter ego. Their appearance reminds you again how fast years flew by. Their intelligence is still as fresh and spry as before. Most problems are solved in an instant by shrewd proposals and intuitive inventions. A little too quickly in my opinion. This made it quite implausible. And this way the tension was completely ruined. Furthermore, I couldn’t really appreciate the sometimes corny humor. All in all, this second film is a little bit of a setback. Granted, the images look spectacular. The special effects are majestic (but that was to be expected). And the action scenes are phenomenal. But there was no magical moment in this film. It wasn’t really that impressive. But when you fancy a visual spectacle, this blockbuster should be on your bucket list. I just hope the descendants of those pesky aliens won’t come up with the same idea in 20 years.

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  • (RATING: ☆)


    JIM’S REVIEW: They’re back! Ten years later in Earth time and twenty years in the future with the dismal sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence comes off life support and into a theatre near you. Misdirected by Roland Emmerich and written by a committee of five that included Mr. Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, and James Vanderbilt, the film is a dud. Perhaps a more apt name would have been Independence Day: Regurgitation.

    The aliens want revenge again and so will any moviegoer who sits through this dumb sci-fi adventure. The  various one dimensional characters are put through their paces as they face perils to undo the invader’s plot. And the film’s plot defies logic as well. The CGI effects are sub-par, the kind one could easily find in a video game. There is so much mayhem per inch on the screen that it is hard to see the action at times. Lots of sound and explosions with no real impact.

    Beside the poor writing and dialog that is more endless exposition, there are enough OMG apocalyptic moments that are borderline laughable. As the film battles progress, so does the absurdity, especially when a magic yellow school bus successfully evades an attacking alien motherlode. Paging Miss Sweeney!

    The acting is dreadful throughout. Will Smith is wisely DOA in this revival, but Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Sela Ward are completely wasted in their ill-fitting roles. Judd Hirsch plays his Jewish schtick too thick, as if he is playing Tevye to the last seat in the balcony while Brett Spiner, donning a long grey fright wig, plays a dotty scientist awakened from a 20 year coma. There is another ham in his performance for a sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. Liam Hemsworth relies too much on his good looks to carry him through another film role and Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, and Travis Tope provide passing interest for the younger crowd.

    Independence Day: Resurgence is awful, simply one of the worst sequels ever made. Avoid! GRADE: D-

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