There’s a moment early on in Independence Day: Resurgence where Jeff Goldblum’s returning David Levinson – now the director of the Earth Space Defense – is examining a downed spaceship on the moon, when he spots an approaching Mothership heading straight toward Earth. “It’s definitely bigger than the last one” he quips in typical Goldblum fashion; a not so subtle hint that this sequel to one of the best blockbusters of the 90s is going to be on a whole other level than its predecessor.
He’s right. Here, Roland Emmerich, a director who knows how to do spectacle, turns up the CGD – Computer Generated Destruction – all the way to eleven and, in the process, makes the original film look restrained and miniscule. Not content with simply blowing up landmarks this time around – a trope that is also slyly referenced – Emmerich decides to take it one step further and have them crash into each other after being dropped from the sky by the aliens’ anti-gravity device. But that’s just the beginning. What follows are huge tidal waves, clouds of fire, dogfights between two different kinds of spaceships, lasers, moon bases and an encounter with a creature that is best described as Godzilla with tenticles.
Whilst there’s certainly no denying the film’s scale, bigger doesn’t neccessarily mean better, and whereas the film is an eye-widening, visual treat, it suffers in almost any other way imaginable. Considering just how fun the original Independence Day was and the potential of this sequel’s plot – the aliens are back, but now we have cool space weaponary too – there’s something surprisingly dull about Resurgence, which undoubtedly stems from the fact that we’ve seen this kind of thing done before – this literallty rehashes some of the film’s original scenes – and done considerably better.
Often, there’s some fun to be had. As well as some entertaining sequences which take place on the Mothership, Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch manage to create a few laughs with their character’s father and son relationship. In the small time they share the screen together, they effortlessly manage to steal the show from the fresh faces that are brought in as the new generation of alien-killers; fresh faces such as Liam Hemsworth and Jessie T. Usher who are less charismatic than their alien apponents – I especially feel bad for Usher who is just a constant reminder of how much this film needed Will Smith.
It may be entertaining in places, but it’s difficult to shake the sense that something just doesn’t feel right this time around. Whether it’s the overuse of painfully obvious CGI – technology may have improved since the first film, but this somehow looks worse – the lack of Will Smith, or the fact the plot seems to serve no other purpose than to set up another film, Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t the sequel you may have hoped for after a twenty-year wait. It may be a bigger and dumber sequel, but it still remains vastly overshadowed by the original.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com