Some things are better left in the past.
Having obviously noticed that audiences still flock to a lot of style-over-substance flicks, Roland Emmerich’s gone back to the “Independence Day” well – drowning a tired, seen-it-all-before (in 1996!) yarn with endless special effects sequences.
Considering, like the characters in the film, he had 20 years to prepare it’s a mystery how Emmerich could so royally have screwed up here. What could’ve happened is 20th Century Fox requested he “bring the magic of the original back” – only he’s mistaken the ‘magic’ of the 1996 film to be. As such, the studio’s left with something more “Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen” and less “Titanic”.
What made “Independence Day” – which featured a great cast including a then up-and-coming Will Smith – such a bravura success back in the day was its effective mix of human emotion, thrilling but simplistic storytelling, and well-used effects sequences. The sequel, on the other hand, inexplicably believes an only mildly intriguing storyline, humorous throwbacks to the original and a Godzilla’s worth of sfx is enough to keep the “ID4” brand going a bit longer. Box office will ultimately provide the answer to that.
You’ll see more build up on teeth after a glass of grape juice than Emmerich and co-writer Dean Devlin serve up here : It’s an alternate 2016 where humanity has banded together ready to go if there’s ever another extra-terrestrial attack. While working at a space station on the moon, our young heroes get wind of that tardy, impending rematch. Down below, Jeff Goldblum’s exposition-spewing technician, Bill Pullman’s battle-scarred ex-President, and Brent Spiner’s ‘wasn’t he dead!?’ loopy scientist regroup to horde of the E.T’s.
With Will Smith (sensibly) sitting this one out, his character has magically morphed into the obligatory ‘son of Big Willy’ – with Jessie Usher playing the part.. .and with far less snap, crackle and pop than was needed to fill such shoes. While Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe fare slightly better, playing the two other young leads, there’s nothing relatable or very interesting about their characters.
He started out strong, what with the original “independence Day”, as well as biffo classic “Universal Soldier”, sci-fi fave “Stargate” and those back-to-back ‘disaster’ flicks he’s become somewhat typecast for (“The Day After Tomorrow”, “2012”), but these days you’d need a poke, plunger and pack of fifties to get most moviefans into a Roland Emmerich movie. The filmmaker’s last few movies have been, for lack of a better word, boring and much like his latest, Emmerich’s lost the ability to balance a libretto choc with heart and character with pyrotechnics. He doesn’t care so much about who is doing the banging, just that it goes off. And therein lies one of the main injustices of the “Independence Day : Resurgence” script – there’s no heart in it. Unlike the original film, this one has no real relatable characters, no real motive for the audience to care about anyone or anything, and quite simply, nothing in the film rings true – shame considering this is the sequel to a film that had us pooping our pants when the alien mothership hovered over the White House and set it phasers to smash.
“What goes up… must come down”, Goldblum’s mutters at one point through the film. On the money there, buddy.
At the risk of being thrown into the back of an ambo headed straight for a session with Nurse Ratched, never have I longed so much for Will Smith.
Blu-ray : Super looking AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1 with a truly pulsating TS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix accompanies deleted scenes, featurettes, a gag reel, concept art, trailers, and a fairly informative commentary from director Emmerich.