Independence Day: Resurgence baffles in B-grade

Liam Hemsworth.
Liam Hemsworth.

INDEPENDENCE Day: Resurgence would surely be the least necessary and least anticipated sequel of 2016 were it not for the frankly baffling release of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 earlier this year.

It has been 20 years since Independence Day burst on to screens with a lot of hype and ground-breaking special effects, but history has not been kind to it; the threadbare plot, two-dimensional characters, cheesy dialogue and unironic American jingoism made it B-grade at best rather than a sci-fi classic.

But Hollywood is all about nostalgia and name recognition these days, so the Independence Day brand has been dusted off in the hopes of creating a sci-fi franchise to compete with Star Wars and the plethora of superhero movies from Marvel and DC.

The plot, what there is of it, is unchanged from the original: aliens land (again) on Earth and destroy many of its landmarks (again) before a group of plucky Americans rise up against them (again).

Most of the original cast have returned, including Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson and Bill Pullman as former President Thomas Whitmore, with many of the younger characters recast in key roles, including Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) and Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe).

Crucially, Will Smith has not returned, with two characters required to share his personality traits (son Dylan and Jake Morrison, played by Liam Hemsworth).

Resurgence hits many of the same beats as the original, with many of the same two-dimensional characters, cheesy dialogue, average quips and even going so far as to replicate some of the scenes.

It is at its best when the alien mother ship lands, destroying landmarks in America and London, with some thrilling destruction.

Likewise, the dogfights that take place later are frenetic and fun. But it is nothing we have not seen before in Independence Day or any of the other films it spawned that thrived on scenes of global destruction (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, San Andreas).

Any time it tries to develop characters or build relationships, it grinds to a halt. Even Goldblum appears to be coasting, though Goldblum coasting is still better than all the other performances.

Resurgence seems unsure of what it is – sequel, remake or reboot – except that it wants to be the start of a new franchise.

But if it seemed like an unnecessary sequel before, watching it only seems to drive home that point.

Watch the original again, complete with Will Smith punching an alien in the face while screaming “welcome to Earth”.

Independence Day: Resurgence (M)

2.5 stars

Directed By: Roland Emmerich

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman

Reviewed by: Dave Friedlos