I was four when I saw Independence Day (ID). I remember watching it over and over because I love alien invasions and destruction when done right. Now I am 24 and I see ID as passable schlock with a patriotic spin. The notion that the world follows America’s lead to fight off aliens is charming and the practical effects are a joy. The idealism is off-putting, but I understand what the film was trying to do. How does Independence Day: Resurgence (IDR) carry on where ID left off?
On the 20-year anniversary of the War of ’96, Earth is invaded again by a more menacing alien threat. Using technology adapted from the aliens, the world fights back.
I understand that my politics tend to interfere with my criticism. Sometimes it just comes out and many people do not agree with what I have to say. However, my disdain for globalism and some liberal ideals does not change that IDR is just terrible. Jane Got a Gun was so awful I do not know how it was real, but at least it was watchable in comparison.
From the start I knew there was a problem based on how fast the movie went. It moves so quickly from one scene to another that you do not have time to absorb what it happening. Because of that you are beaten over the head with repeat exposition and visual indicators to remind you of things you were already told in a prior scene. The editing is worse because there is a cut every three seconds. Even when there is no action and the scene is calm, there are a billion cuts.
The lighting fast pace is such that you do not have time to like the giant cast of characters. Furthermore, they are written so simply to the point they are one-dimensional. The returning actors at least have the previous film to establish character, but all the new people are useless. I could not care less about their various plights. I do not give a shit about Chris Hemsworth being an orphan, Will Smith’s kid watching his mother die, and the Chinese girl losing her uncle. The only character I paid attention to was Maika Monroe’s Patricia, but only because she is a great actress.
While the last movie was not perfect, I still cared about the president losing his wife, Will Smith having ambitions, and Jeff Goldblum trying to save the planet. You had time to learn about these people and grow to like them. On top of that, ID was not cluttered with a dozen other characters that did nothing. It took time with a small ensemble to develop personality and make you understand those involved. I did not care about the characters in IDR because I did not have time to care and they were so sparsely written they were not worth the trouble.
Then there is the most Roland Emmerich thing ever: The pissants. These are “characters” that hang around with the cast to provide unfunny comedy. Most of Emmerich’s and Michael Bay’s movies have them because it is great to show contempt for your audience. IDR has a nerdy government clerk, a crew of sailors that did not have to exist, Goldblum’s father, and Hemsworth’s in-the-closet co-pilot. These “people” have maybe fifteen minutes of total screen that could have been excised from the film. Because Emmerich is too lazy to write better characters he relies on pissants to compensate.
The story could not be dumber. The inciting incident is a new alien ship, not like the previous invaders, showing up out of a wormhole. Instead of listening to Goldblum, who saved the world, the UN shoots it down. They did not try to communicate with the ship or wait even a minute to consider their options. Turns out, it was a good ship sent by a coalition of refugee aliens that have been fighting the invader aliens for years. The movie would have ended, but in better hands, the story could have gone in a better direction.
After the even bigger invader ship lands over the Atlantic, the first move by the military is to attack it with everyone at once from Area 51. It is no surprise they all die and apparently that was the extent of the UN’s air force. The strategy was poor to begin with, but why did the member countries not provide their forces to help the effort? Did the nations of the world feel so safe that they were fine with having one planetary defense force based in one country? Were they not allowed to have their own army because the UN could not trust its members with the advanced weapons and flight technology? I guess that is what happens when you set up a centralized global political bloc, idiots.
Aesthetically the human/alien technology and weapons look gaudy. For some reason the engines that allow for 3-dimensional movement are placed on the outside of the jets and not integrated into the body. The jets look fine except for these weird alien circle things that stick out on their bellies. The alien ships from the first movie did not even have visible engines or exhaust on the outside. Then the human/alien rifles are too big for humans and have this triangle motif that does not work. The aliens’ guns make sense because they are tall creatures, but all we did was add a carry handle with a rail system.
The only good thing I have to say is the performances were okay. The returning cast was great save for Vivica A. Fox who always sucks. It was nice to see Bill Pullman, Willian Fichtner, and Goldblum again. Hemsworth, to my surprise, was passable and actually made an attempt to act. Everyone else sucked.
Independence Day: Resurgence is not worth your time and money. The sparse few good things are overshadowed by the sum of its parts. I wanted it to end 15 minutes in and I wanted to leave. What ever you decide to do this weekend, stay home and watch the first Independence Day. Better yet, go see Neon Demon or Civil War. That is what I should have done.