We Always Knew They’d Come Back
I was twelve years old back in 1996 and was enamoured with the scope, scale and stupidity of blockbuster hit Independence Day. It was dumb, charming, funny and thrilling, combining cutting edge model work and visual effects. This sequel is none of those.
Twenty years after an alien invasion crippled the Earth, killing off three billion plus people, mankind has bounced back. With the help of David Levinson [Goldblum], we have formed a union of nations and harnessed the alien technology to rebuild and expand. As the anniversary of the attack approaches, the only alien ship to actually make land has activated and those who have experienced a direct link with the aliens have been suffering intense visions; one in particular is ex-President Thomas Whitmore [Pullman]. With a strange vessel appearing above a base on the moon, it would appear history is destined to repeat itself.
It took five writers to produce this convoluted dull mess and despite being a rehash of the first film, it somehow manages to retain none of the magic that convinced us to excuse the blatant flaws. So how did we get here? The first trailers made a logical sense, showing how humanity had recovered after the thwarted alien invasion and hybridising our technologies to advance our race but everything else was flat. In order to answer that question the first thing we need to establish is that nostalgia sells. I appreciate that plans have been in place for an Independence Day sequel for years but with the success of other countless reboots, remakes and majorly-delayed-sequels, there is a studio confidence that a film of this nature will earn huge revenue based on people’s fondness for the franchise. In truth, this blandness is just stifling cinema as a whole and pissing on the memory of the original/s.
Interestingly Jurassic World managed to succeed despite casting only one returning actor and while there are many familiar faces in this film, it’s the absentees that stand out the most. First and foremost, the death of Will Smith’s character is actually acceptable but rather poorly executed. The first glimpse we get is an “oil painting” in the rebuilt White House which looks more like a production still with a blurry Photoshop filter, blown up and printed out.. because that’s exactly what it is. Then there’s the absence of David’s ex-wife Constance Spano [Margaret Colin] which is probably explained somewhere but I didn’t pick up on anything noteworthy. Not to mention all the other supporting roles who played large parts in the original but didn’t warrant a mention this time round. Most annoyingly is the replacement of Ross Bagley and Mae Whitman as Dylan and Patricia respectively; I understand the logic for it but as the replacements brought so little to the role, you wonder what the point was.
With that to one side, let’s take a quick look at the ‘surviving’ cast members. The selection of veterans is a bit of a weird mix of cameos and feature roles. Goldblum sinks right back into the role of David well but that could largely be because it’s Goldblum playing Goldblum. Pullman’s character has the most notable transition from hero President to jittery, nightmare-riddled wreck. It’s a bold choice and one he plays well but then shakes off all-too-quickly once he’s had a shave. Brent Spiner’s eccentric Dr Okun is given a lot more screen time and uses it to inject some genuinely humorous moments – even detrimentally when the scene called for seriousness. But the new additions are so banal. Hemsworth as the cavalier jock douche, Travis Tope playing said jock douche’s comic-relief childhood friend, a frankly unrecognisable Charlotte Gainsbourg as stubborn.. psychologist I think? and a whole host of dismissible expendable nobodies.
**Huge spoiler in the last line**
Defenders will always state that a film like this shouldn’t be graded on its script (these people are obviously wrong) and we should focus on the accomplishments of the visual spectacle. With that in mind, the visual effects present are technically impressive but wholly uninspired. The once unique look is now horribly generic; I lost count as to how many times we cut back and forth between a VERY CGI ship flying through a VERY CGI narrow gap and an actor making guttural screams – as we all know this is how you activate a vessel’s turbo boost. Thus we’re left with something that continually hammers you with flashing imagery yet still manages to be incredibly boring. That and I’m quite amazed there were any landmarks left standing after the first attack. No tension, no thrills, no suspense. And to top it all off, Emmerich pulled the same stunt from Godzilla by revealing the queen wasn’t dead after the giant film-ending explosion.. I mean, they both stole that from Aliens anyway but you get the point.
What could have been a really clever and novel sequel boiled down to little more than a rather expensive cash-grab which will inevitably fail thanks to its complete lack of awareness as to what made people fall in love with (or at least enjoy) the first film: cutting-edge visual sequences, charming performances, a stirring score and a lack of competition at the box office. Not to mention the fact Resurgence also ends on such a heavy implication for a sequel that it manages to rob the audience of any closure. A sequel, which I can’t imagine being greenlit any time soon.
24th June 2016
The Scene To Look Out For:
Every scene feels like a glorified, SyFy Channel b-movie with an actual budget. If I had to pick something in particular as a positive standout, it would be a genuine task. Crap, on the other hand, is another matter entirely; the whole film is chock-full. I think I’m going to have to go for a bit of an abstract concept here and say, the thing of note was any time Resurgence tried to really hammer home that nostalgia and recycled lines or scenarios from Independence Day. From Pullman’s underwhelming speech (which was pretty amazing last time, they even played it twice here) to fathers sacrificing themselves for their kids, to kooky scientist nonsense, to more of that “humans are the best” bullshit. Anything that worked last time is brought out, paraded around and feels like a dying circus elephant from your childhood and if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, it bloody well should.
**The first half is a bit spoilery**
Two of the new additions pissed me off so much. First we have the current American President, Elizabeth Lanford [Sela Ward] who is amazingly useless, continuing to hold a celebratory ceremony despite an alien presence on the moon then has no real plan of action and gets killed while muttering to a roomful of aliens “there will be no peace.” And then we have Nicolas Wright as Floyd Rosenberg. Floyd is such a painfully awful character; every line of dialogue woeful, every situation cringeworthy and the fact he survives the whole film is an incredible insult when so many other random supporting roles died for literally nothing. And to make matters worse, Wright is one of the men responsible for the script – which should really explain everything.
“It speaks.. hehe.. in English”
In A Few Words:
“An absolutely shocking film, rich in commendable computer generated imagery, void of pretty much everything else”