June 26, 2016 by bck1402
Stars Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T Usher, Maika Monroe, Brent Spiner, William Fichtner, Sela Ward, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Deobia Oparei, Vivica A Fox with Judd Hirsch and Bill Pullman
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Sequalitis is when a movie decides to have a sequel by pretty much doing the same thing, just bigger and hopefully better. You can look to lots of movies through the 80s and 90s where the movie landscape is littered with sequels resulting in diminishing returns, be it in terms of box-office or, more often, the quality of the movie you’re watching, i.e. sequels were made simply to make sequels because the audience was clamouring for more of the same. Studios helped this along because when a movie goes big (like ‘blockbuster’ big), you kinda have a built in audience ready for more.
Nowadays, sequels do tend to be bigger than before and Independence Day: Resurgence falls into that same category. “They like going after the landmarks,” says David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) in this sequel, as if he actually saw the aliens blowing up other landmarks in the first movie (aside from the White House), but the destruction of landmarks is what we get because those are easy to identify a country by. And how would the aliens know what buildings or places are landmarks anyway?
So, yes, the aliens are back, bringing along a much much bigger mother ship, one so big it apparently has it’s own gravitational field – which is conveniently turned off once it settles on our planet practically occupying more than the span of the entire Atlantic Ocean. In which case, science be damned! This is a popcorn, b-grade disaster flick of an alien invasion movie with a massive budget. Actual true and pure science need not apply, everything just has to look as cool and feasible as possible. We have bases on our moon as well as on the moons of Saturn!
There’s less of the rah-rah-go-America this time around because the world has come as one over the last 20 years since the first invasion. We’re not so myopically focussed on only the America story as before. Among the newcomers helping out include the daughter (Maika Monroe) of the former president (Bill Pullman) who has followed her father’s footsteps into becoming a fighter pilot, her pilot boyfriend (Liam Hemsworth), the stepson or Captain Hiller who is also a fighter pilot (Jesse T Usher), a Chinese pilot (Angelababy, because it’s so important to capture the Chinese movie market these days), along with an African warlord (Deobia Oparei) and a French psychologist (Charlotte Gainsbourg). A more internationally diverse cast of characters this time around. We still have a few returning characters as the aforementioned former President Whitmore, former cable company service man David Levinson who is now in charge of the Earth Defence Force, and his dad (Judd Hirsch), as well as kooky Area 51 scientist, Dr Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner).
Most disaster films bank on their characters, and while it’s the new blood handling much of the action set-pieces, it’s the veterans who bring the charm and structure, led by Goldblum. The stars do well enough to keep the story going. The effects allow for more ridiculous levels of destruction and mayhem, not to mention the aerial chaos of the air-battles.
So. Much. Chaos.
And yet, director Roland Emmerich manages to keep a handle on it all with seasoned skill, crafting the set-pieces with aplomb, even recalling a little from Godzilla. Aside from scale, there is nothing much that is new though, but it doesn’t distract too much from the utter enjoyment one might derive from the movie. There are thrills and spills, and being 20 years removed from the first movie, it might get a pass. That is, of course, down to personal preference.
Rating: ***1/2 / 5