Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give Independence Day: Resurgence is that I expected to be even worse. But that said, it still sucks.
To be fair to director Roland Emmerich, I didn’t step into the theater thinking I’d be seeing a shadowy, Blade Runner-esque masterpiece, a brooding psychological thriller like Ex Machina, or even an outrageous, thoroughly enjoyable popcorn romp like The Fifth Element. Because I was going to see the sequel to Independence Day, the movie that launched modern disaster porn, and I knew that most screen time would likely be devoted to shit getting blown up.
When Independence Day debuted two decades ago, shit getting blown up on a huge scale was actually kind of impressive. And the sheer amount of shit getting blown up made it easy for audiences to ignore that the movie’s most interesting plot points would fit on one side of a 3×5-inch index card. But from a technical standpoint, I can’t say the large-scale shit getting blown up scenes in the sequel looked measurably better.
To allude to one of the dumber elements of the story, if you’d just come out of 20-year coma and immediately watched Resurgence, you’d likely think movie-making technology hadn’t progressed at all, and that script writing had devolved significantly.
You also might wonder what happened to Will Smith, because he wisely skipped this stinker to shoot Suicide Squad.
For me, the most interesting part of Independence Day was the revelation that an alien craft had crashed in Roswell back in 1947, and it was frustrating to see that element of the story explored so feebly. On the DVD, there’s a deleted scene which attempts to explain why Jeff Goldblum’s character is able to infect the alien mothership with a virus, and while it’s actually pretty weak, watching that bit of exposition makes me feel like, just maybe, the writers were trying. A little.
Clearly, they aren’t trying this time.
Because in the 20 years post-invasion, we’ve learned virtually nothing about the alien species which invaded our earth, even though the battles left piles of their machines laying derelict, and we have a prison full of them. Humanity hasn’t even bothered to come up for a proper name for these evil bastards. For 90% percent of the flick, they’re still just “the aliens,” which seems just dumb.
The most interesting plot element in Resurgence is the reference to a battle on the plains of Africa, where a local warlord fought stragglers for a decade, but there’s virtually no detail about it. Some flashbacks and war stories might have gone a long way toward giving this retread a reason for being, but apparently, blowing shit up is far more important.
Toward the end, there’s an obvious play for another sequel, but given how straight boring Resurgence is, the chances of that happening are fortunately slim.