Hey remember 1996? It certainly was a more innocent time back then; Sega still made game consoles, Pauly Shore was still a successful, if puzzling comedic phenomenon and there were only 150 Pokemon. The largest film of that summer: Independence Day (1996), a one-off riff on fiendishly clever 1960's alien invasion films. The film was built on the same reliable stock characters, buoyant, optimistic flag waving and simplistic them versus us story-beats as Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers (1956). Only this time it was done with an unheard of budget of 75 million dollars and came armed with a bevy of charismatic performances by actors who all seemed to be in on the joke.
With Independence Day: Resurgence, the joke is clearly on us. It's a boring, soulless oddity whose mere existence is an insult to remakes, reboots, flying saucers, alien invasion films and the sci- fi chops of Jeff Goldblum, William Fichtner and Brent Spiner. Anyone who has ever had a half-empty pizza box sit in their fridge and let it set there for a month; imagine it sitting there for twenty years, taking it out and putting it in the microwave. That's this movie.
Independence Day: Resurgence takes place in a parallel universe where the world not only survived the first global invasion of tentacled little green men, but has learned from their technology. David Levinson (Goldblum) the cable guy who took down the last wave with a Pepsi can and the power of computer magic, is now the head of Earth's defenses. You'd think that'd entitle him to an office and a placard but no, when we first meet him he's checking out the crash- zone of one of the saucers in East Africa. Meanwhile on the moon station (That's right we now have army bases on the moon), Will Smith replacement #1 (Hemsworth) and Harry Connick Jr. replacement (Tope) await the arrival of Earth Space Defense superstar Will Smith replacement #2 (Usher) and his crew ahead of the July 4th celebration. The aliens show up, stuff get's exploded, Bill Pullman makes a heartfelt speech.
What truly makes Resurgence not just bad but Wing Commander (1999) bad, is there seems to not be a single soul who gives a s either on screen or behind the scenes. New cast members all seem to be on autopilot while returning cast members Goldblum, Pullman, Hirsch and Vivica A. Fox all dodder through their scenes with an increasingly panicked sense of obsolescence. Director Roland Emmerich, the undisputed king of city-sized destruction and mayhem, seems to be having trouble hiding contempt for his audience. Every time we think the film is going to go in a new and interesting direction, the script (written by five different writers) wants to insert some nakedly obvious callback that doesn't add to the plot nor feels organic. Everything from the exposition, to the lighthearted moments, to the 24 (2001-2010)-like plot-threads all seem abysmally second rate.
And here's the sad part, everything about the first movie was already second rate! But it was the endearing kind of second rate that loosened willing audiences to revel in the brightly-colored chaos and not worry about the time-tested formula that's being regurgitated. Even before the summer of 1996, you could close your eyes and just imagine Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn and Randy Quaid playing those exact roles in other films or even in real life. Likewise the original story was so lean and gleefully formulaic that no one at the time even noticed the aliens had no reason to start a fight. They were a force of nature; something we all had to collectively work together to destroy. Who gave a damn about their motivations.
Well Resurgence apparently does. Despite having absolutely no cultural clout for the last twenty years, the producers of this exceptionally terrible movie not only saw fit to give the aliens an unnecessary mythology but bring in a second alien race for good measure. What results is one of those plot points that is simultaneously complicated and needlessly boring; like reading a Blu-Ray manual; or watching The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) without the welcome sight of John Lithgow.
The ONLY reason for this film's existence is to somehow haphazardly cash in on the trend of franchising which has given the studio execs of Disney untold billions and the execs of Warner Bros., Sony, and 20th Century Fox headaches. In my mind I can see Roland Emmerich and company reading the trades, scanning Marvel's profit margins and going, "That's the one thing we forgot to do!" Problem is you can't make a franchise out of a once-in-a-generation, cultural touchstone of a movie, whose contribution to cinema is limited to a place and time. Even when you're hedging your bets by casting Angelbaby in a flagrant attempt to appeal to Chinese markets.
Take away the cynicism of making a franchise after the fact and ignoring the total lack of Will Smith (yes I had to sneak in his name somewhere), there's no denying this film is a true-blue dud. The special-effects are embarrassingly shoddy, the acting poor all- around and the story is so excruciatingly clunky that I personally was one Independence Day callback away from throwing my drink at the screen. The film is left open-ended in a frenzied sequel-baiting finish so misplaced, it felt like the slowest kid on the track and field team was darting to the coach to see if he made the cut. No son, you didn't. Now go sit on the bench with The Golden Compass (2007) and the Green Lantern (2011) movie.
Review by bkrauser-81-311064 from the Internet Movie Database.