0580 | Independence Day: Resurgence

Well, I suppose if anyone can claim to be the originator of all this wanton city destruction we now have to sit through year after year it’s Roland Emmerich, and this summer he’s back to up the stakes. This sequel to his 1996 blockbuster Independence Day hits most of the same notes as the original – good and bad – but it’s altogether bigger and louder and smashier, with a giant 3,000 mile-wide mothership rudely touching down over the entire Atlantic Ocean and carrying a fresh threat to humanity’s existence, partly from its cumbersome landing and partly from the intelligent alien queen on board (a great, hulking kaiju who’s here to kill everyone and mist up Jeff Goldblum’s glasses). Joining Goldblum from the earlier film are Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch, while there are brief returns for Robert Loggia and Vivica A. Fox, the latter appearing for one scene only which sadly also happens to be one of the most cringeworthy in the entire movie. There are several new cast members, too: William Fichtner dons military fatigues for the 4,000th time in his career; Jessie Usher plays the son of Will Smith’s now-deceased hero from the first film; charisma vortex Liam Hemsworth plays a cocky and insubordinate young pilot (sheesh); It Follows star Maika Monroe is a fellow pilot and also the daughter of Pullman’s former President Whitmore; Deobia Oparei is a Congolese warlord who is shoehorned into the story as a concession to international diversity; and likewise the Chinese singer, model and actress Angelababy, who plays yet another good-looking ace pilot. Otherwise, much like the first film, it’s all Americans saving the day as nomads and Buddhist monks gather round CB radios in hope that a few people with shiny teeth and good complexions can kick some alien butt. Oh, and did I mention that it also stars Charlotte Gainsbourg? No? Independence Day: Regurgitation stars Charlotte Fucking Gainsbourg!

Sadly no-one – except for the dependably-witty Goldblum – comes out of the film with any credit, but the quality of performances seems somewhat beside the point in a film that’s so reliant on fantastic spectacle to the detriment of…well…everything else. You know exactly what you’re going to get. Emmerich’s film is full of portentous, rumbling basslines as the giant alien ship moves into view, its arrival on Earth causing a flurry of CGI tsunamis and exploding buildings (Singapore and London draw the short straw and are wiped out, which is Emmerich’s equivalent of leaving a poor review on TripAdvisor). The aliens duly hand us our asses on a plate, but when all looks to be lost – as per the first film – the screenplay unleashes the spirited ‘Murican fightback via the magical means of motivational speech. Humanity goes for broke, lots of lasers go pewpewpew, Liam Hemsworth shouts ‘whoah!’ and ‘hang on!’ a lot as he flies around, and the director finds plenty of time for quips, jokes and sentimental moments as Earth’s time runs out. It seems as if almost everyone involved in the final stand at Area 51 in Nevada is either related or in love, and though the preponderance of unrealistic occurrences and coincidences that brings them all together is utterly ludicrous, one only has to remember that this is a world in which mad scientists can defeat entire advanced alien races with malware, so I guess it’s just something you have to go with. As an old hand at this kind of thing Emmerich knows what pushes the buttons of audiences containing a healthy portion of dimwits, and he’s not averse to throwing the age-old cliche of a busload of cute kids and a loveable dog in distress into the mix, in an attempt to up the stakes or the audience’s emotional response (this after seeing London, Singapore and much of the eastern seaboard of the US wiped out in around five minutes flat). It’s as dumb as it is ridiculous, of course, and countless plot holes appear before we arrive at an ending, but whatever: people will go in their droves to watch the smashy boomy loudy spaceship blow everything up, and so there’s that.

Directed by: Roland Emmerich.
Written by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, James Vanderbilt.
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Bill Pullman, William Fichtner, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Travis Tope, Deobia Oparei.
Cinematography: Markus Förderer.
Editing: Adam Wolfe.
Music:
Harold Klose, Thomas Wanker.
Certificate:
12A.
Running Time:
129 minutes.
Year:
2016.

Comments 19

  1. ckckred July 3, 2016

    Nice review Stu. I thought this movie was an absolute mess, and it’s one of the most mind-numblingly brainless pictures I’ve seen. I don’t think Emmerich and co. put any energy and effort into making this film: the action is incoherent, the special effects look cheap, and all of the actors, especially Goldblum and Pullman, phone in their performances. At least the original was pretty entertaining but this was laughably bad.

    • Stu July 3, 2016

      I thought Goldblum was OK – exactly the same as we’ve seen from him before, although he looked weary when delivering the exposition. But otherwise I agree – poorly-written dross. Brainless is the right word!

  2. The Vern July 3, 2016

    I had zero interest in seeing this until I saw that Charlotte Gainsbourg and Maika Monroe were in the cast. It just doesn’t have any of the same fun the first one did and everyone was just going through the motions

    • Stu July 4, 2016

      It’s a shame both of the characters they play have little in the way of agency. Charlotte Gainsbourg as love interest in a blockbuster is weird! I agree there was much less fun here than in the first one, and lots of attempts to replicate it fell flat.

  3. Todd B July 3, 2016

    Since I wasn’t that big a fan of the first one, your review helps cement my decision to skip this second one. If I need a Jeff Goldblum fix, I’ll watch ‘The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai’.

      • Todd B July 4, 2016

        You know, that one movie you watched for the blogathon and loved so much. I forgot what you called it out there in the UK…Wallaroo Batzoid? Huckleberry Hundai? Toshiro Mifune?

        • Todd B July 4, 2016

          That’s it! And speaking of which: I’m wondering if maybe you watched ‘Eegah’ and really liked it, and now you’re afraid to post a review out of sheer embarrassment.

  4. Keith July 5, 2016

    I watch a fair amount of dumb stuff, but even I couldn’t bring myself to see this thing. The trailers looked so bad. Maybe on DVD but as for now I’m gonna pass.

    • Stu July 6, 2016

      Wise move. I only went to see it as I have year’s pass at the local multiplex, so figured I may as well watch it on the big screen. It’s the second-worst film I’ve seen this year.

  5. Three Rows Back July 5, 2016

    I’m still confused as to how a civilisation practically wiped out 20 years earlier can be quite as advanced as they are – with a moon base no less! Mind you, this is Independence Day we’re talking about here…

    • Stu July 6, 2016

      Haha. True. It doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, does it? Why didn’t they just send the big mothership in 1996 anyway? Plus I can’t believe (spoiler alert) they just kind of gave up again! Worst. Aliens. Ever.

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