I love the first Independence Day. In fact I named it as my favourite film of 1996 and genuinely consider it to be one of the greatest popcorn flicks of all time. Roland Emmerich delivered, cheese and insanely fun action. So I went into this sequel slightly apprehensive. Taking this long over a sequel hasn’t historically boded well. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece of cinema, but I was expecting it to be a great time.
And well this film is far from a masterpiece, but at the same time it’s not horrendous. Like so many of the big summer blockbusters that I’ve seen in the last couple of months, Independence Day: Resurgence is such a generic and clichéd film, that can only be labeled as ‘meh’. The story is much the same as the first, except this time the human race has been preparing for 20 years and the alien invasion is much bigger. It even follows a lot of the same story beats as the first, but just doesn’t offer anywhere near the same level of fun as the original.
Resurgence does have a lot of the returning cast and characters to it, principle amongst which is Jeff Goldblum. And he is by far and away the best thing about the film. But the film is seriously missing his costar in the first, Will Smith. I don’t think any of the new actors are awful, but they lack the charm and charisma that Will Smith generally manages to bring to films. Liam Hemsworth tries to fulfill that role, and is actually quite likeable, but just cannot feel the hole that Smith left. The other new characters all feel fairly one-dimensional and aren’t interesting.
I think the main way that Independence Day just completely falls short of the first is lack of any great, iconic, or memorable moments. Nothing in this film is going to stay with me like president Whitmore’s speech, or Will Smith punching an alien to death in the first. Instead it’s a film that I will forget pretty quickly after leaving the cinema. The action on a whole just isn’t engaging. Haven’t studios learned that people are getting tired of the same repetitive, CGI flooded, hard to follow set pieces? Well if not then the generally underwhelming box office numbers may just convince them.
As I said at the start there will be far far worse films than Independence Day Resurgence this year, this film is fine. I think its problem is that this is a sequel to a hugely beloved movie, and people are going to judge it far more harshly because of this. And I absolutely get that. I was hoping for a lot more, and did find myself getting a little bored at times.