By Phillip Guy Ellis (Northampton, England)
Star – Jeff Goldblum
Genre – Science fiction > Action
Run Time – 2 hours
Certificate – PG13
Country – U.S.A
Awards – 3 Wins & 16 Nominations
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So Independence Day, the ground breaking special effects alien movie, pulling in $817.4 million dollars back in 1996, making it the highest grossing movie of that year. It wasn’t the greatest movie of that year and not the best special effects movie of that year but it was certainly a patriotic action bombastic disaster movie people enjoyed, director Roland Emmerich famous for the genre, he of 2012, Whitehouse Down and The Day After Tomorrow. But why a 20-year wait for the Emmerich sequel (the time gap that turned out to be its only saving grace)?
Soon after the success of the first film, 20th Century Fox paid writer Dean Devlin a large sum of money to write a script for a sequel. But Devlin gave the money back to the studio a year later, as he felt the story didn’t live up to the first film. There were originally five books in the series and the original film was supposed to set off the trilogy. Emmerich and Devlin fell out over that but 15- years later they met up, having felt that they had “cracked” a story for a sequel. The movie was green lighted with a $165 million dollar budget.
The first problem there was no Will Smith? He told the BBC he was too busy with his Oscar film shot Concussion and chasing a huge comic book salary cheque in Suicide Squad, which almost proved a near knockout blow to his career, if you can excuse the pun. In truth Smith wanted $50 million dollars to reprise Captain Steven Hiller for the two sequels and they said no way. Smiths’ career has been in the toilet of late for some reason so clearly needed the money. A lot of the previous stars did return, including Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum. Somewhat cruelly actress Patricia Whitmore (The Duff) was dropped from playing Mae Whitman as some say she was not pretty enough and Maika Monroe taking her part. In truth all these disaster movies cast Asian and Indian looking actors simply to sell the films around the world and so more likely the reason. For that $165 million this would do $389 million back, just enough to keep the final film in play of the trilogy.
Liam Hemsworth … Jake Morrison
Jeff Goldblum … David Levinson
Jessie T. Usher … Dylan Hiller
Bill Pullman … President Whitmore
Maika Monroe … Patricia Whitmore
Sela Ward … President Lanford
William Fichtner … General Adams
Judd Hirsch … Julius Levinson
Brent Spiner … Dr. Brakish Okun
Patrick St. Esprit … Secretary of Defense Tanner
Vivica A. Fox … Jasmine Hiller
Angelababy … Rain Lao
Charlotte Gainsbourg … Catherine Marceaux
Deobia Oparei … Dikembe Umbutu
Nicolas Wright … Floyd Rosenberg
So its two decades after the devastating alien invasion of 1996 and the U.N has set up the Earth Space Defense System (ESDS). It’s a global defense and research program that reverse-engineers the alien technology they captured and salvaged and serves as Earth’s early warning system against extraterrestrial threats, technology and weaponry placed on the Moon, and across the solar system to detect approaching threats. Captain Steve Hiller (Will Smith) is long dead and his son Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) the new hero of the U.N Airforce.
As the twentieth anniversary of the invasion approaches, ESD Director David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) meets with warlord Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei) and Dr. Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg) in the African state Republique Nationale d’Umbutu. T. After the war that devastated Earth new countries and zones were created and fought over and this is one of them. In this zone the only intact alien destroyer lays untouched and so out of the reach of scientists. But they soon discover that the alien survivors inside had time to send a continuing distress call. It is also revealed that former pilot and U.S. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman), Dr. Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner), and Umbutu are telepathically linked to the aliens somehow, following personal encounters with the aliens over the years on Earth, literality feeing their pain, and have visions of an unidentified spherical object, a portent to what’s to come. When the Saturn beacon goes down that maybe sooner than they think.
On the Moon and a black hole opens up near the base and an unidentified spherical ship emerges, and despite objections from Levinson, is destroyed on the orders of the United Nations Security Council as a threat. Defying orders, noisy and handsome American pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) picks up Levinson, Marceaux, Umbutu, and U.S. federal controller Floyd Rosenberg (Nicolas Wright) on a space tug and head out to have a look at the wreckage. They recover a mysterious white orb matching the visions some of them have been experiencing. But the vessel was merely a probe as a huge alien mothership follows through the wormhole and destroys the Moon base and begins to lay waste to Earth once again, parking itself on North America, and a hell of a lot bigger than the last one from 1996. Time to lock and load and kick some alien ass.
One of the good things about having a Now TV movie package is you can watch those big films that were set upon by the critics so you didn’t rent or buy them. Low and behold they are not that bad, Independence Day 2 an example. It was the same with films like The Accountant, Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman. Broadsheet critics that are not paid off by the industry to big up studio films tend to get rather too independent sometimes and wield their power and write a film review for a more middle class audience and so run down the cheesier but fun action movie genre for the masses. They forget films can be entertaining, rather than sublime, to be good fun. OK. I was expecting this to be bad but I sat back and enjoyed the special effects and familiar tropes from the previous film and fun to be had here. It’s good fun because of that relief and it’s not terrible.
The unintended twenty year break is why this film gets away with it. It’s the same way Jurassic World got away with it with their 14- year break. The Final Countdown movies were clever on that and released exactly three years apart so people forget the opening scene was always premonition of the horror to come, the key to the movies. The original Transformers film was excellent but noisy sequels quickly followed and it killed the enjoyment stone dead, the irritating Shia Lebouf driving us nuts every other years being chased by robots. The Pirates of the Caribbean films are also guilty of that. Sometimes you just can’t recreate the original magic.
The familiar macho chest bumping military stuff is back from film one although a breeze for Goldblum and co as the special effects take over. It’s a pretty silly storyline and a likewise ending but apart from E.T what alien disaster movie isn’t too greedy with the amount of special effects directors can play with these days? This type of film you just want the right amount of special effects, the square jawed dog tag hero for the girls and some token totty for the boys and away you go splattering the aliens and toppling the skyscrapers around the word. I expect nothing less from a Robert Emmerich movie and an in-joke about the aliens ‘targeting world landmarks’ just makes me want to celebrate his deliciously over the top movies even more.
IMDb.com – 5.2/10.0 (141,234votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 31% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 32% critic’s approval
The Sun – ‘I’m not going to sit here and pretend like Independence Day is some great movie-it’s not. It’s nonsensical trash like all of Roland Emmerich’s movies’.
New Yorker – ‘The first Independence Day had the gratifying slap of good pop cinema, harmless and weightless; the follow-up is twice as big and half as fun.’
The Week – ‘Resurgence isn’t a good movie, but if you’re trying to work out what Independence Day means in 2016, that isn’t the point’.
Time Magazine – ‘You can forgive Independence Day: Resurgence for being ridiculous — its predecessor was too. But you can’t forgive it for being boring’.
The Mail – ‘So much of what is going on in the third act is so ridiculous; it is hard not to find some enjoyment out of it’.