Doug Reviews: Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Hey kids, remember Independence Day? It was the original turn-off-your-brain mass destruction flick. Well, it’s been twenty years and we’re getting a sequel in Independence Day: Resurgence. My only question: Why?

I’m not going to delve into the “plot” of this garbage. Aliens invaded twenty years ago. Humans won and used the left behind technology to enhance their military—and little else, it seems. Aliens return to finish the job. Bland cardboard-cutout characters talk. The End.

I’m going to put this out there right away—I’m not the biggest fan of the original Independence Day. It’s fun schlock, but it loses me once that dog outruns an explosion. From there, it devolves into dreck, but well-meaning dreck. Resurgence doesn’t even have that going for it. It starts out as dreck and stays that way throughout its two-hour running time. Answer me this, how can there be FIVE credited screenwriters on this thing, but not one real character amongst twelve major roles? Every single one is a placeholder for the terrible dialogue to spill out of their mouths. I get it, disaster films are supposed to be schlock, but at least the original film had some charm. This piece of crap is soulless and unnecessary.

The sad part of it all is, if you take what Director Roland Emmerich is giving us, you might be able to cobble together a decent sci-fi movie from it, but the five screenwriters hit every wrong note on the way there. The plot is a worse version of TNT’s Falling Skies, which wasn’t all that great itself. There are some good effects, but they all go to waste in service of a movie that has no memorable characters or anything we haven’t seen before in other movies, including the original Independence Day. The first film was full of iconic shots, especially of the alien ship destroying the White House, but there are no such scenes in Resurgence. We’ve already seen the alien invasion of this movie universe and Resurgence gives us nothing new. None of the mystery that made up the first forty minutes of the first film exists in this one—neither does the character development. I’m never going to say that Independence Day had great characters—it didn’t, they were all pretty stock—but at least that film took some time to try and develop them. Nothing like that happens in the sequel. The filmmakers don’t put in any time to build up these terrible characters, nor the world in which they inhabit. And don’t get me started on all the implausibilities and plot holes in this thing—it’s a minefield.

Like most sci-fi films since 1977, Independence Day wants to be Star Wars in the worst way—by the way, stop bastardizing the Star Wars film score at every opportunity, ID4! Unfortunately, what Emmerich doesn’t understand is that what makes Star Wars so great is its characters. All the “characters” in Resurgence are basically distilled down to one trait and then that becomes their character. Liam Hemsworth is impulsive! (And Hollywood, please stop trying to make Liam Hemsworth a star—it ain’t happening). Jessie T. Usher is dead Will Smith’s son! Maika Monroe is Bill Pullman’s daughter! Brent Spiner—who should have been dead after the last film—is crazy! Jeff Goldblum likes exposition! It’s ridiculous. Also, why did the filmmakers feel the need to shrink this movie universe so much? Yes, this is something that Star Wars is also guilty of, but at least Star Wars tries to tell a coherent story. Why, after twenty years, in an event that involves the entire world, are we still focusing on relatively the same small group of people? Did we really need someone to play Will Smith’s kid? Did we need the old President’s daughter in here? It’s like the film is trying to build up the legacy of the first film where there really is none. People like Independence Day because it was a decent disaster film and had good effects at the time. No one loves those characters. So, it’s kind of ridiculous to build the sequel around legacy characters from a movie where the characters were the least memorable thing. Again, I’ll draw the Star Wars comparison. The Force Awakens made almost a billion dollars domestically because people love to see Harrison Ford as Han Solo. No one was clamoring for Jeff Goldblum’s Independence Day character’s return. Ian Malcom in Jurassic World 2, maybe, but not Independence Day. It also doesn’t help that all the actors basically sleepwalk through their parts here, except Brent Spiner, who goes too far in the other direction. The only person who does a decent job here is Bill Pullman, but the script does him no favors at all.

Clearly, Independence Day: Resurgence is a terrible movie. I wasn’t a diehard fan of the first one either, but at least I’ll admit it was dumb fun and watchable. This one is just full of unintentional hilarity and eye-rolls galore as you watch one implausibility after another. Unless you’ve got a crackerjack plot with a lot of twists, you need characters people care about and Resurgence has a whopping total of zero. If you don’t care about the characters, you won’t care about the film. The most frustrating part is that the opportunity was ripe to make a creepy, action-packed sequel that had a modicum of character depth, but like Michael Bay before him, Roland Emmerich doesn’t know the meaning of the word “subtlety.” He just wanted to get to the boom-boom explosions as fast as possible without taking the time to make the audience care about what the fuck was happening. Oh, and one more thing, I think the world owes Will Smith an apology for getting on his case after he turned this turd down. Clearly, it was one of the best career moves he’s ever made. Now, screw this Independence Day crap, where the hell is my Mars Attacks sequel???



Rating: D-


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