Film / Reviews

'Independence Day: Resurgence': Did the aliens wait too long to attack?

If you were old enough to enjoy the first “Independence Day” in 1996, then “Independence Day Resurgence” may scare the daylights out of you — and that’s not meant as a compliment to the movie.

Watching “Resurgence” is a bit like living a familiar high school reunion nightmare. You know the one: You get dressed up, wonder what everyone will look like, then arrive at the venue only to discover that your old friends are absent. You flee to a corner with a glass of wine, until a bunch of sleek, beautiful young people come up to you and introduce themselves as your friends’ offspring. Then they promptly inform you that your reunion has been cancelled and this is their party. Cue anxiety attack. You feel aged more than your years. The wine glass slips from your hand and shatters on the floor in a perfect, slow-motion Kubrick-esque sequence. That nightmare.

On the other hand, if you’re one of the so-called millennials who gets excited about “Star Wars” but hasn’t gotten around to watching “Independence Day” just yet, relax. You can enjoy “Resurgence” as the kind of summer blockbuster that goes so well with caramel popcorn, cold beer and your three-day stubble. Lucky you — you’re unencumbered by the realization that when it comes to sequels, like reunions, 20 years may be too long a wait. A lot can change, and generally not for the better.

Independence Day Resurgence
Rating
Run Time 120 mins
Language English, French (Subtitled in Japanese)
Opens JULY 9

During this time, certain people have disappeared from the scene, and those who have remained are much older and far stiffer in the joints than anyone really cares to know. But the aliens are back. And this time, they bring a “queen” commanding mother ship that is so immense, it overshadows the entire planet. With such technology at their disposal, and so much of it, it’s a wonder why they don’t just destroy Earth and be done with it.

As with the first film, Roland Emmerich is in the director’s chair for “Resurgence.” One of the towering masters of the Hollywood disaster genre, Emmerich is a man who lives by the maxim “The more explosions and mayhem crammed into a movie, the better.” He always goes for huge, grand-scale, ear-drum destroying special effects and a body count of spectacular proportions. In the first “Independence Day,” he even annihilated the White House and killed off the first lady. You can’t say the man is an elitist — in his scheme of things, everyone is in the line of fire in the event of an alien attack.

Still, 20 years …

Will Smith is gone but his son Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) has matured into a wise-cracking ace pilot just like his dad. His mom (Vivica A. Fox) returns, but only for about two seconds of screen time. Former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is back, sporting a gray beard, portlier and now a little gaga, fussed over by his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe). She is an aide to the current president (Sela Ward — yes, a woman!) and engaged to Jake (Liam Hemsworth) who’s on Earth’s defense force, which was established after the last alien attack. Scientist David (Jeff Goldblum) is still the alien expert, except this time he has solid support from love interest Catherine (a badly miscast Charlotte Gainsbourg).

We are frequently reminded of what went down the last time: “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years” and “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” and so on, but the lines feel insincere and only serve to remind us how hollow this sequel is. While Emmerich stubbornly sticks to his MO, the new and youthful cast can’t seem to muster the gravitas needed in facing a situation that is essentially the end of the world, or even match the darkness that surrounded the 1996 storyline. Only Pullman as Whitmore seems to have a full grasp of the director’s intentions — a lone relic from the past who gives his all to relive the line from his last, glorious alien-busting speech: “We will not go quietly into the night!”

His is the friendly face at the “reunion” party full of strangers.

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