Independence Day: Resurgence is the latest legacy sequel, expanding a beloved property into a new generation. Unlike most others (Creed, Jurassic World), this is also the only sequel to Independence Day. While the first film was wildly successful in 1996, it is an open question as to how many people have strong enough feelings for the original to make this film a success.
And that’s because this film completely fails on its own merits. It never develops any of the characters well enough to actually establish any sort of emotional stakes, and despite having (very literal) a bigger threat than the first film, it actually feels smaller scale. Mostly this is due to the film only focusing on a few locations and characters, while the original spent valuable time establishing both the characters and the threat, and then connecting them organically within the story. Additionally, all the characters in the film are already connected at the beginning, so the film does not capture the feeling of an unlikely band of heroes uniting against a common enemy, nor is the existing drama in their relationships compelling in the slightest.
The lack of grounding in character or story also underlines the film’s struggle to reconcile mass destruction with summer popcorn entertainment.
Actual dialogue from the film:
Patty (Maika Monroe): I looked at the houses you sent me. Harrison Street.
Jake (Liam Hemsworth): We’ll buy it, if it is still there.
By itself, it is fine, but this couple ending this conversation with a light chuckle resembling an inside joke rather than a somber assessment of their situation that millions of people have just perished horribly is emblematic of the film’s inconsistency. Director Roland Emmerich’s filmography is full of this push pull, of course, but the performances throughout are so flat that it barely registers as anything other than absurd. All of the actors feel like they are sleepwalking through the film, making me long for the Gerard Butler of Gods of Egypt. These people treat an alien invasion like doing laundry.
The most impressive thing about Resurgence is that the ideas in the film are actually interesting and worth exploring (even if it does set up potential future films in the least elegant way since Back to the Future). Transforming this franchise from an alien invasion disaster film to a science fiction military story is chief among them, but is largely wasted due to the flat performances.
Independence Day: Resurgence is the kind of movie that gives popcorn a bad name.
Independence Day: Resurgence opens in Philly theaters today.
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights
as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.