Just last week I wrote an article/think piece about the production of Alice Through the Looking Glass questioning the decision to churn out a sequel six years after the success of the first film and how, with any fanfare for the first Alice film long since vanquished, it’s delayed production may be one of the reasons it imploded at the box office like a building made of wet Weetabix. Now we have the long awaited sequel to Independence Day, one of the most successful blockbusters of the 1990s, released twenty years after the original. Talk about taking your damn sweet time.
Its twenty years on since the aliens assault on earth and David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) continues to research the wreckage of the ships they left behind. In Africa he comes across a crashed vessel that has sent out a distress beacon calling for help. Meanwhile former President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is plagued by visions of the extra-terrestrials and believes they are coming back. When this turns out to be the case a new team of young fighter pilots made up of Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), the one who doesn’t follow the rules, Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), daughter of former President Thomas and Jake’s fiancé, Charlie Miller (Travis Tope), the nerdy one, Rain Lao (Angelababy), the woman the nerdy one has a crush on and Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie Usher), the one with the unenviable task of having to try and replace Will Smith. Teaming up with a frankly ridiculous number of characters, some new and some returning, they attempt to stop the Alien queen from conquering Earth.
From the off Independence Day: Resurgence is bombastically ridiculous, which isn’t necessarily a negative, it happily positions itself in an anti-logical realm where worrying about plot contrivances is pointless and as long as things are going boom and everyone times there one-liners correctly we’ll get through this without too much pain. It’s not as good as its predecessor, with twice as many characters diluting the screen time of the ensemble it’s difficult to grow particularly attached to most of the newbies that are introduced. Goldblum’s manic weirdness continues to be fun to watch but what the film really lacks is Will Smith’s charismatic presence. You would happily swap all of the new characters the film introduces for Smith’s character to put in a reappearance. Hemsworth gets the most screen time out of the newbies and as much as I wanted to appreciate his performance the macho I don’t follow the rules attitude and stoic delivery left a lot to be desired. The first film balanced its tone more effectively and there’s a criminally lacking amount of fun to be had with this feature. I get it’s the end of the world but a lighter tone would have been more effective, especially in a film as bombastically ridiculous as Independence Day: Resurgence. On a more pleasing note it was a welcome return from Bill Pullman, and Maika Monroe continues to enhance her reputation as a fine young actress with a compelling display as his daughter. However the scene stealer of the movie is Brent Spiner returning as Dr Brakish Okun, the eccentric doctor from the first film, his zesty display imbued the film with the kind of comic tone that the rest of the feature lacked and strangely his characters journey is undoubtedly the most fascinating of all the characters, which is bonkers considering the absurdly large size of the ensemble.
With a screenplay that doesn’t quite pack the punch of the original Independence Day this sequel isn’t quite what we would have hoped for, but as a light entertainment destruction-a-thon it contains enough raw energy and appeal to just about tip the scales as a fun summer blockbuster. They clearly wish to turn this into a franchise because, well obviously they do, which I can’t say I would mind as long as Roland Emmerich and company learn to lighten up a little.
Review wrought down by Alexander Halsall