Movie Review – Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Deobia Oparei

Twenty years after humanity fought of the alien invasion, a signal is received. They’re coming back.

Like many others I was surprised when I heard they were making a sequel to Independence Day. However, I had the pleasure of watching a double bill of the two films this week and after I watched the first one I did find it interesting to think about what the ramifications of humanity would have been in the aftermath, and not to mention the fact that all those aliens were stranded on Earth. Resurgence answers these questions in satisfying ways yet doesn’t get bogged down in showing the intricacies of the world. It’s fast-paced, much more so than the original.

A few of the original cast members return, combined with new faces that have ties to characters from the first film. While it’s good to see Goldblum again his presence is fairly incidental to the main plot of the film and I don’t think the story would have had to change any without him. Same with Hirsch. Pullman and Spiner have good roles though. On a personal note I’m actually going through a re-watch of Star Trek: The Next Generation at the moment so it’s nice to see Spiner on the big screen again.

Perhaps the thing I most liked about Resurgence is how it shows that humanity continued to work together and didn’t fall back into old habits. One thing I also noticed about the film is that there’s very little conflict among humans. Some may complain about this, and say that conflict is the essence of drama, but I appreciated how everyone was working to a common goal and while they may have had different ideas of how to go about it, ultimately they were one people. I also appreciated the efforts made to make this less American-centric than the first, with Oparei’s warlord one of the more memorable characters.

But where the destruction in the original film is visceral and terrifying, somehow it feels less so in the new one. There are some heart-wrenching moments, but in this aspect at least it falls short of Independence Day.  I also felt that even though this film broadens the horizons to space and brings an even bigger threat, it still felt smaller. I don’t know if it’s because the threat is too big, almost too abstract for us to comprehend, or if it’s simply because the actors chosen aren’t able to bring life to their characters, lacking the natural charisma of Will Smith, but I felt more detached from this film than I did the original. However, it’s still enjoyable by any standards and there are some intriguing subplots that hint that they may be yet more stories to tell.

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