Sunday, June 26, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

Year: 2016
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Maika Monroe, Bill Pullman, Jessie T. Usher, Judd Hirsch, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Brent Spiner, Travis Tope, William Fichtner

Plot: Twenty years after President Whitmore, David Levinson and Captain Steven Hiller stopped aliens from destroying Earth, the planet has thrived on upgraded technology and peace among mankind. But the aliens have now returned with a bigger ship, to finish what they started.

Review: In 1996, Independence Day became a worldwide hit, and despite being pretty much a popcorn flick, is still considered a top notch blockbuster by movie fans everywhere.

Director Roland Emmerich takes us back to this world twenty years later, where Earth has thrived after defeating the aliens. Captain Hiller has perished in an air tragedy, and his son Dylan is now a pilot. President Whitmore is now an old man who still has nightmares from his encounter with the aliens, with his daughter Patricia as the current president's aide. David Levinson is now the director of the Space Defense program, monitoring any and all alien activity around the globe and in space. Trouble brews when the aliens return with a mega huge ship and squashes their defense systems easily. Levinson, Whitmore and a handful of brave young people have to team up and save the day.

Let's start with what's good about IDR. The special effects are awesome, as it was back then. When the big bad mothership arrives, the level of destruction you see is just like in Emmerich's 2012, and while it looks familiar, it's still no less exciting. There's a new subplot here involving a new alien entity that was one of many victims of these hostile ones, who offer our heroes a possible way to defeat them. Admittedly, this plot could have been played out better as the film makes it look too easy, but it does present a fresh angle to an already familiar story. Lastly, the returning cast members all seem game for the film, with Brent Spiner getting more screen time here and Vivica A. Fox and Robert Loggia making brief appearances as well (Loggia's final role before his recent death), though Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch and especially Jeff Goldblum all fit right back in like they never left. 

Now for the downsides. If you recall the original's plot, it's really not that much different here. Aliens arrive. Aliens make a big impact. Earth responds and fails spectacularly. Earth finds another way to win. Someone makes a grand speech. Earth fights back and wins. So if you're expecting any surprises, there aren't any. The new cast don't seem to match the old cast's enthusiasm for the material, though they do try. Maika Monroe and Liam Hemsworth do alright but their romance is not convincing. Jessie T. Usher fares slightly better as Dylan Hiller. Sela Ward doesn't get much to do as new President Lanford, with William Fichtner doing much better as her replacement later on. There are also a couple of unnecessary elements here, like Judd Hirsch's subplot of finding a group of kids to babysit during the attack, and an auditor played by the same guy playing the tour guide from White House Down (another Emmerich piece) as the film's comic relief, which misses more than hits. Lastly, despite the final battle sequence looking good on screen, it all looks like one big video game where you have to beat a final boss to succeed.

In summation, I'd say Independence Day: Resurgence is just like the original as far as popcorn flicks go, but not quite as memorable. It's a fun way to spend 2 hours, but that's about it. (7/10)

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