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Dan's Review: "Independence Day: Resurgence" void of anything original

Jun 27, 2016 12:13AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Independence Day: Resurgence – © 2016 - 20th Century Fox

Independence Day: Resurgence (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG - 13 for sequences of sci - fi action and destruction, and for some language.

Starring Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie Usher, Sela Ward, Travis Tope, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Robert Loggia, John Storey, Ng Chin Han, Patrick St. Esprit, Jenna Purdy (voice), Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Robert Neary, James A. Woods, Joey King, Garrett Wareing, Hays Wellford, Mckenna Grace.

Written by Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods and James Vanderbilt, based on characters created by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin.

Directed by Roland Emmerich.

GRADE: D

REVIEW:

It’s bad enough that most Hollywood blockbusters are repurposed, reworked, rebooted and regurgitated. “Sequelitis” is a potent and viral disease driven by studio greed and fear of risk. Most studios, void of fresh ideas, rely on known franchises and characters to keep the money flowing in. Sometimes (though rarely), film executives make a hit movie and move on, passing on a sequel. When Independence Day came and left theaters in 1996, it seemed that the world had been sufficiently saved from a fictional alien invasion, and that was that. But, like a patient awakening from a 20-year coma, the folks at 20th Century Fox suddenly realized they forgot to make a sequel, and quickly rectified this outrage with this weekend’s release of Independence Day: Resurgence.

The story picks up 20 years after the “War of 1996,” now heralded as the major global event that shaped the world’s political and economic futures. The people of Earth have also repurposed alien technology to advance their culture, using their unwelcome visitors’ anti gravity and weaponry to boost defenses. It’s also apparent that the entire planet has coalesced into global community, bypassing things like culture, religion and economics to form one big, happy worldwide family. David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is now the “Director” of the Earth Space Defense (having moved up quite a bit since his gig as a satellite engineer for a cable TV network), and he’s on a mission to find the source of a strange beacon suddenly emitting from one of the old ships that was destroyed during the 1996 struggle. In the meantime, lots of people are haunted by images of a mysterious orb, including former U.S. president Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman), who is nearly driven mad. The young members of the ESD are Lt. Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie Usher) and others who are the second generation of 1996 survivors. Dylan is the stepson of Steven Hiller, played by Will Smith in the first film – whose character is killed off by some sort of test flight crash (or perhaps Will Smith had no interest in the sequel, perhaps for good reason). Another second-generation survivor is Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), the former president’s daughter and now a member of the current President Lansford (Sela Ward)’s staff (she’s also engaged to Jake). Another survivor is Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) who’s been in a coma since aliens attacked him in the first film. When the beacon goes off, he awakens and takes up his duties as resident eccentric scientist.

From here, the story goes pretty much the same as the first film. People of Earth use all their inferior technology to try and thwart another alien invasion, only bigger. A big battle ensues over Utah’s west desert, where someone has to make the ultimate sacrifice to save humanity. There a lot of silly details in the middle, but suffice to say they are of little significance, other than the chilling reality that this movie is an obvious setup for more sequels (let’s hope it takes 20 years to get that going).

Independence Day: Resurgence is an awful movie. Sometime around the first 20 minutes of the movie, you can tell that the team of writers (including director Roland Emmerich) kind of gave up and simply reverted to the 1996 script. This time, the characters are flat, less appealing and have nothing clever to say. It seems that the writers may have recognized the silliness. For example, as the bigger, new and improved aliens attack the Earth again, Jeff Goldblum’s character, referring to the destruction of iconic areas says, “They always go after the landmarks.” Yep. Thanks for pointing out the obvious. At another even more inane moment, President Whitmore begins to have a conversation about the looming alien threat with a few folks standing nearby. As the music swells, more folks drop whatever war preparations their supposed to be doing and gather to hear another version of “Our Independence Day” speech, followed by a chorus of patriotic cheers. 

What is more than obvious is what a terrible and half-hearted effort Independence Day: Resurgence turned out to be. Yes, there are some dazzling special effects, but nothing else that makes you root for the people of Earth.

This is one sequel idea that should have gone quietly into the night.


Independence Day: Resurgence trailer

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