By Thomas Simpson
Whereas the usual trend is for Hollywood to churn out sequels at an alarming rate, fans of Independence Day have had to wait two decades for a follow-up, Independence Day: Resurgence. Revisiting a story 20 years later is risky. The original audience may have moved on while new audiences may not care for what came before. It’s also worth noting that Independence Day wrapped up the story neatly and didn’t warrant a sequel. Yet here we are.
Earth has taken advantage of the technology it has salvaged from the alien war, using it to create advanced spacecrafts that make traveling to the moon as simple as a short domestic flight. Former President and deliverer of great speeches Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) fears that the aliens are coming back to finish what they started. He’s not alone, Earth’s governments have built terrifying weapons tactically assembled on our nearest planets to ward off any threat. It wasn’t enough. We may have had 20 years to prepare, so have they.
Independence Day may not have boasted the most original story (it’s essentially an adaptation of The War of the Worlds) it did feature a great cast and a witty script. Resurgence falls short with the latter. Many of the original heroes return, including Whitmore, David (Jeff Goldblum), his Dad Julius (Judd Hirsch), Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox) and Dr. Okun (Brent Spinner). There is one notable exception from the list and it creates a massive vacuum in the film.
Contract negotiations with Will Smith broke down due to money, which resulted in his character Captain Hillard being killed off between movies. The cocky yet noble hero is split across two characters in Resurgence; Jess Usher is the grown up step-son of Hillard, embodying all of his father’s bravery while Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) showcases his lovable bad boy side complete with cheekbones and a grin designed to make you sigh. Their characters are undeveloped and quite frankly, not that interesting despite fine performances from the actors.
Therein lies Resurgence’s biggest problem – it just isn’t that interesting. It’s a watchable blockbuster but falls flat when it matters. It’s not a bad film, it’s enjoyable enough for the most part, however there isn’t much to care about. There is no emotion invested in the wanton destruction of the planet leaving an empty feeling to much of the carnage and lacks the characters to carry us through to the end.
Director Roland Emmerich intends to use the sequel as the next step in his eventual trilogy with an ending that is hammered home with the message “we will be back.” Like the aliens this time round, it’s up for debate if they should bother returning.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.