The Reviewinator: Independence Day – Resurgence (2016)

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20 years is a long wait for a sequel, but not that long if you weren’t actually waiting for it. I think most people gave up interest in an Independence Day sequel after a few years. The first movie, after all, had such a close-ended finale. The aliens were all dead, and Earth was saved. Where do you go from there? Which is probably the question the filmmakers have been asking each other all this time. But the movie’s trailers suggest the survivors of the first attack had 20 years to prepare. It’s just a shame the filmmakers didn’t use the time as wisely.

2016 in this movie is very different from the one we know. It’s been 20 years since the aliens attacked, and through reverse-engineering their technology, it’s as if our world is hundreds of years into the future. But somewhere in Africa, the one alien ship from 1996 that landed on Earth soil, and has remained intact to this day, has woken up and is transmitting a distress signal. It’s not long before a massive “Harvester” ship, the size of the Atlantic Ocean, slips through the defenses and attaches itself to Earth like a giant leech. From there it digs underground, going after Earth’s molten core, which can only mean the end of the world as we know it.

The first movie was highly-entertaining, but it was also a bit simple and occasionally ridiculous; a proud popcorn movie. Resurgence tries, rather desperately, to continue that tradition. Its focus is on fun, not smarts. You’ll get plenty of weaving flight scenes, massive devastation, ground combat, vehicles outrunning giant ships, etc. There is one aerial combat scene reminiscent of the classic scenes from the original, but it’s just not the same. The human ships look alien, the alien ships look alien, and the camera moves so fast that you can’t tell who’s beating who when things get out of control. The rest of the action is non-stop throughout, but it’s significantly less classic than the original.

Instead of three lead characters this time, it’s more of an ensemble cast. Liam Hemsworth may get top billing, but he’s no more the star than Jeff Goldblum or Brent Spiner. Will Smith is absent of course, and his “son” (who, I don’t know if the writers forgot, is not actually his biological son) doesn’t get nearly the character development or screen time he should. Brent Spiner’s Doctor Okun was apparently in a coma for 20 years, and when he comes out of it, he provides the most comic relief, which does get quite tiresome later on when things should be getting more serious, almost turning the movie into a parody.

It’s obvious that the filmmakers spent a great deal of time establishing this alternate 2016, even though, when the aliens arrive, things take on a familiar feeling of “we don’t stand a chance”. The first movie, while great, was very 90’s. They’ve tried to recapture that here, and it doesn’t always work. It’s a loud, special-effects heavy sci-fi action movie, with many ambitious ideas, a lot of which get lost in the noise. Preserving human life doesn’t matter as much as showing off. They’ve got the style, but they left the substance back in 1996.

2 out of 5

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