Review: Independence Day: Resurgence – The mothership of all battles

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Independence Day: ResurgenceIn 1996, the epic alien invasion flick Independence Day was the don’t-miss blockbuster of the summer. I don’t think I’ve seen the movie since then, but I still remember it fondly. Now, as the Independence Day: Resurgence poster reminds us, we’ve had 20 years to prepare for the sequel, but I don’t think there is any amount of advanced technology that could have readied us for the fiasco that is this new film.

In the Independence Day universe Earth has spent the past two decades getting ready for the inevitable return of the evil aliens they defeated (or at least began to defeat) in the first movie. The world has come together against its common enemy and has researched and adapted the enemy weaponry so that it can be used against them.

An array of space satellite defenses have been set up and a multi-country military base has been established on the moon; but as the human race is celebrating the anniversary of its initial victory against the invaders, the mothership (complete with alien mother) takes advantage of the distraction and strikes again — this time attaching its 3,000-square-mile structure to the Earth’s crust and drilling into its core in order to suck out the molten magma.

Now, imaging that your brain is the Earth and this movie is sucking all logic, reason and storytelling sense right out of it – and there you have the film, Independence Day: Resurgence.

While hundreds of thousands of people die we are not so much on the edge of our seats as we are at the end of our patience, as cars, boats, people and buildings are sucked up into the air in what is quickly becoming Hollywood’s most “meh”-inducing hat trick. I’m so tired of seeing this apocalyptic visual effect that if the real thing ever occurs I’ll likely be lulled to sleep by it (see Tom Waits’ Earth Died Screaming).

This action-packed yet, somehow, still mundane trip down memory lane has Jeff Goldblum returning as the quirky scientist, David Levinson, and Judd Hirsch as his wacky Dad, Julius; Bill Pullman as a deranged (former) President Whitmore; Vivica A. Fox as Captain Steven Hiller’s widow (that’s right, Will Smith does NOT return); and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner as the mad scienest, Dr. Brackish Okun.

Independence Day: ResurgenceThe new cast includes Liam Hemsworth (the one that’s not Thor) as hotshot pilot Jake Morrison; Maika Monroe (replacing Mae Whitman) as Patricia Whitmore, the former president’s daughter and girlfriend of Jake; Jessie T. Usher as Dylan Hiller (the son of Captain Hiller); Sela Ward as the female President Lanford; Deobia Oparei as the African warlord, Dikembe Umbutu; and, for the Chinese audience where I assume this movie is going to do great, Hong Kong actress Angelababy plays a Chinese fighter pilot, Rain Lao.

There is so much about this film that is simply unexplainable (and I don’t mean just the UFOs – but this is what one expects when a film has as many different writers as this one does). For instance, we know that the Hemsworth and Usher characters have a history that makes them dislike each other, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you why. And then there’s the big issues with the film not even following its own pseudo-science rules – and don’t even get me started on the real laws of physics that the story breaks.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away (if you are concerned about spoilers, you might want to skip to the next paragraph), but the end of the film turns into a pretty cool giant monster movie with some legitimate suspense (in a kind of reverse 10 Cloverfield Lane); and it had me wishing the whole film had been as good as those few fleeting moments. This one quick change-up of genres is really the only good thing this film has going for it.

Independence Day: Resurgence is undoubtedly a big film, especially when it comes to being a disappointment. Writer/director Roland Emmerich typically delivers, at least, some campy fun in his end-of-the-world movies; but with IDR the best you can hope for is to resurge into consciousness at some point. Grade: 3.5/10

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.