Written By: Mike Agostinelli
You ever go into a movie expecting to hate it but then you see it anyway?
It takes a special kind of person to do this. Why does one do it? Do we enjoy punishment? Or are we just so hopelessly in love with film that we enjoy even the most bottom-level cinematic expereinces, solely because we even see some merit in those? I’d like to think I fall into the latter category. But hey, maybe it’s a little of the first as well. Because simply put: I never really liked the original Independence Day. I saw it on opening day back in 1996, filled with childlike wonder and hope, only for both to be dashed upon seeing it. Was it horrible? Certainly not. But even at that young age I couldn’t help but walk away with a pervading sense of: thats it?
Flash forward twenty years and we get the sequel that nobody really wanted but will likely see anyway. So color me surprised when Independence Day: Resurgence turned out to be nowhere near as bad as I had assumed it would be. There are flaws, in some cases massive ones, but none big or bold enough to derail the entire movie. Or maybe I just have a high tolerance for bullshit.
Everyone in this movie knows what the deal is. They’ve seen the script. they are keenly aware the dialogue is awful and that this clearly isn’t high caliber filmmaking, so they act accordingly. There is a certain charm to that. It can make even the worst films highly watchable, like those Saturday night Syfy channel stinkbusters. What this movie essentially ends up being is one of those, but with millions of more dollars in the budget. Director Roland Emmerich excels in overblown two hour chunks of cinematic idiocy, and he pulls out all the stops here. The man has no meter for gauging how corny or childish things might be; he just simply blows his load all over the screen and assumes something will stick.
The returning cast members from the first act as torch passers, handing the reigns over to a group of new “young blood” cast members. Bill Pullman looks lost and confused, but in an endearing way. Jeff Goldblum mumbles and displays his usual neurotic sensibilities. There’s also a random African warlord dude who looks like a discarded side character from Predator, wielding double machetes and uttering lines like “you have a warriors heart.”
Beyond all the fun there are issues. Everything is way too futuristic. I get we used Alien tech in the twenty years since the original in this timeline, but everything looks like something you’d see in a Blade Runner sequel as opposed to anything even remotely resembling reality in 2016. False climaxes also become a problem. You know, when the movie appears to be over and the threat averted, only to find out you were wrong and there’s still another action scene. The climax also has Jeff Goldblum riding around aimlessly on a yellow school bus like a fool with his bumbling dad and a bunch of little kids while all the real action goes on around them. There are even shoehorned-in homosexual characters in an effort to appear progressive, as they make Brent Spiners Dr. Okun into a gay man randomly and act like it was always like that.
The score from Thomas Wander and Harold Closer uses the theme from the original, but also adds in its own new theme. The overall package is surprisingly solid and rousing enough to generate emotion out of you even when the acting can’t exactly do that on its own. Nothing beats David Arnolds work on the original though, which had the perfect feel of a mid-90’s Summer blockbuster and still finds itself entering my brain at the most random times.
So what can you really expect when going to see a movie like this? Destruction, corny acting, and patriotic badassery. You get all of that here in spades, despite some small little missteps. So really, what much more is there to say? There’s something to be said of movies that allow you two hours of brain death, where you can simply sit and tune out the world around you and lose yourself over to some stupidity for awhile. To me, that feels good. And its just as necessary as a showcase Academy Award film which is showered with accolades.
I give Independence Day: Resurgence a 7 out of 10.
Next review: The Legend of Tarzan