Review by: Dave Griffiths
Has there ever been a film that you loved when you were younger that you have revisited as an adult and been bitterly disappointed? It happened to me recently with Independence Day. As a kid this movie blew me away, the special effects, the idea that aliens could blow up the White House… and yes even Will Smith (I was addicted to the Fresh Prince Of Air). Going back to watch it last week though I realised that the film was not as great as I remembered, aside from the special effects it was actually a bit of a cheesy film and probably shouldn’t be considered a classic.
Still I didn’t let me truth defining moment about the original dampen my hopes for Independence Day: Resurgence, after all I kept telling myself it’s twenty years later, Roland Emmerich has grown as a director and I guiltily kind of enjoyed White House Down. Well as it turns out I was horribly wrong, yes it may be twenty years on but Emmerich hasn’t learnt anything new and he is still making the same mistakes that made Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow films that might have impressed the masses but had serious film lovers shaking their heads over what they have just seen.
Emmerich’s new storyline has been put together by a team of screenwriters that sees the world as a very different place to what it was 20 years earlier. Humans have embraced the alien technology that was used against them in the previous war giving a very new look to things even as basic as a helicopter. Our old heroes are also very different people as well. Former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman – While You Were Sleeping) is a depressed mess, his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe – It Follows) works at the White House, Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner – Star Trek: Generations) has been a coma for 20 years, while David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum – Jurassic Park) travels the world and is considered an ‘alien expert.’ He now answers to the likes of President Lanford (Sela Ward – Gone Girl) and General Adams (William Fichtner – The Dark Knight) who have developed a pretty impressive defence system for Earth.
Then there are the newcomers – the likes of bored fighter pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth – The Hunger Games) forced to live in the shadows of the likes of the famous Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher – Teeange),Charlie Miler (Tarvis Tope – The Town That Dreaded Sundown) and Dr. Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg – Antchrist) a former rival of Levinson’s who now wants to help him. Somehow this mixture of people all have to bring it together and help fight when the aliens return, once again hellbent on destroying Earth.
Perhaps the scariest thing about Independence Day: Resurgence (is certainly not the aliens) is the fact that it becomes painfully obvious early on that despite it being twenty years later Emmerich seems to have learnt nothing as a filmmaker. Still there are the bad attempts of humor throughout the film, the awful over-writing of characters that makes them so clichéd and these repetitive tropes that keep turning up in Emmerich films (like a computer telling the characters of the impending danger).
Even worse this time around though are the facts though that Emmerich seems to have borrowed so much from other films, especially the Star Wars franchise for this film, and just how unbelievable this film is to its audience. Yes, of course, a story about aliens attacking Earth is supposed to be a believable drama but can anyone buy the fact that two characters that are emotional and physical wrecks after the events of the first film are suddenly able to swing around and be battle ready this time around… one was even in a coma for 20 years but is suddenly able to do his work like nothing has happened.
The other area in which Emmerich manages to lose his audience with this film is the over saturation of characters and the even worse habit of introducing characters well into the film, far too late for you to ever care what happens to them. The result is a film where it is virtually impossible to connect with any of the characters, which in turn means the suspense that should be there in a movie like this is just non-existant. Add that to the fact that you find yourselves laughing at a lot of the dialogue littered throughout the film, or groan at ‘you have the heart of the warrior’ and this soon becomes a film that should be referred to as a let-down of a blockbuster.
The poor screenplay also lets down its cast badly. The likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lima Hemsworth are sadly given nothing to work with and it’s likely people will quickly forget that they even made this film pretty quickly. Likewise if Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman thought this was the film that would resurrect their careers then they are very sadly mistaken. And as for the newcomers… well they barely even create a blip on the screen.
With a dreadful screenplay and nothing new when it comes to special effects Independence Day: Resurgence ends up being one of the biggest disappointments of 2016. Even worse is the fact that we know another one is on the way… it’s like looking forward to a dentist’s appointment. One to avoid.