Independence Day: Resurgence proves that delayed sequels can’t rely on Nostalgia alone. It’s as if the filmmakers watched Jurassic World and drew the conclusion that its success was a result of pure repetition. Sure, Jurassic World shared a lot in common with it’s over twenty year old predecessor, 1993’s Jurassic Park, but it also brought something new to the table; upping the ante with a fully active park with the dinosaurs you already loved like velociraptors, as well as a bigger, scarier monster (Familiar, but New!). Most importantly, Jurassic World gave us new endearing characters you fell in love with, upping the stakes and making for some great interactions. Independence Day: Resurgence, another sequel following a full twenty years after the original, goes bigger, if more destruction really qualifies, but lacks any new interesting characters or any twists that keep it from being an unnecessary, disjointed rehash of what we saw in 1996. If Jurassic World is a study in how to make a rewarding, delayed sequel, then Independence Day: Resurgence is a lesson in what not to do.
Minor SPOILERS ahead. Basically everything I will reference is already in the trailers.Yes, director Roland Emmerich (ID4, Godzilla (1998), The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), attempts to go bigger, with an alien ship the size of the Atlantic Ocean, and we get one scene of London buildings and vehicles being lifted into the air (the ship has its own gravity… or gravity guns… or something) as well as some “Moon Base Destruction” (I’m stealing that for my band’s name), but the stakes somehow feel… lower than the 1st film? There was something mystifying about all the ships parked over landmarks across the globe in the original, while this one feels almost, more local? This extends to the finale where there is no world-wide effort to fight back like in the 1st Independence Day; all the action is limited to the desert wasteland around Area 51.
Everything about this sequel just feels less clever and more-or-less simplified. Instead of using technology to give the Mothership a Computer Virus like in the original Independence Day, this sequel uses a more direct, “Just Blow It to Hell” approach. No strategy… just alien tech on alien tech warfare. Sure, there is the idea of the Alien Queen, but it just feels like an Aliens rip-off crossed with one of the monsters from Gareth Edwards’ (NOT Roland Emmerich’s) Godzilla (2014). The aforementioned Alien Queen is the most original part of the film, making for the best action sequence, which really isn’t saying much because it’s still not a very worthwhile scene. The biggest twist in the plot (which I WILL NOT SPOIL) seems misguided and sets up a sequel I really don’t want to see.The lackluster destruction, action, and plot aren’t the films biggest shortcomings, the characters in this movie just suck, especially the new ones. The new young cast of heroes, Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), the late Captain Steven Hiller’s (Will Smith in the 1st film) son Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), and the still living President Whitmore’s (Bill Pullman) daughter Patricia Whitmore (Maiki Monroe) all share a backstory that seems like it was rejected from Top Gun, with no chemistry between the characters. William Fichtner plays the criminally underdeveloped General Adams, a character who could have been this film’s President Whitmore, had he any motivation or personality. Finally, including an African Warlord and a “Government Pencil Pusher” as supporting characters just seems like a questionable choice at best.
The returning characters don’t fare any better. David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) has become the one note scientist who is the resident expert; a watered down version of his cynical return as Ian Malcolm in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) seems to just be here to deliver the worst inspirational speech ever (seriously, did the Aliens kill the member of his staff that wrote his rousing speech in the 1st film?) and look worried. And I don’t know why the bothered bringing back David’s father Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch), Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner), or Jasmine Hiller (Vivica A. Fox) at all, except in an attempt to fill the void left by Will Smith.Independence Day: Resurgence is an uninspired retread, recalling other lazy sequels like The Hangover Part II, Jurassic Park III, and Dumb and Dumber To. It tries to repeat what made 1996’s Independence Day such a summer smash, forgetting what actually made that film great (note to director Roland Emmerich… it wasn’t just the destruction!). Dumb plot and dumber characters make for… you guessed it… a dumb sequel.