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June 26, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

by Franz Patrick


Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
★ / ★★★★

Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day: Resurgence” is a limp sequel to a mediocre predecessor that just so happens to offer a few memorable lines. Heavy on visual effects but light on creativity in terms of story, characterization, and action sequences, there is not much to experience here other than to waste one’s money, energy, and time.

The exposition shows some promise. I enjoyed that twenty years after the extraterrestrial attack which reduced major cities across the world into ashes, humans have found a way to weaponize alien technology. There is intrigue because the 2016 shown here is far more advanced than our reality; I looked forward to possible nifty surprises in terms of how the previous attack changed the course of humanity’s trajectory. In a way, one can make a solid case that the sequel is more of a science fiction picture than its antecedent.

While it is fun to encounter familiar faces such as Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, and Brent Spiner, the younger generation introduced do not hold a candle against or alongside these effortlessly charming and inviting performers. For example, Liam Hemsworth who plays a UN space pilot often comes across as very flat. The jokes that the script requires him to say do not land on a consistent basis partly because of his limited range. Sound of crickets after a joke is deafening. Travis Tope, portraying the co-pilot, is the best of the young cast but he is not given enough to do.

Barely any excitement or tension is generated during the alien invasion. This can be attributed to the images looking too much like they are generated using a computer. (Which they were.) Numerous times we recognize laws of physics broken. When a person or an object makes violent contact against another, there is no convincing impact—whether it is through the utilization of images or sounds. Many of those who die are only extras or tertiary characters. There is no element of wonderment or surprise.

Only one marginally effective action sequence is created but this is only due to the fact that it is a direct reference to the first film. The reason why it works is it manages to turn our expectations inside out. We wonder if luck would be able to strike again from using a similar strategy to defeat an intergalactic enemy. However, a viewer who has not seen the predecessor—or doesn’t remember much of it—will likely miss the nod and therefore will not be receptive of what the scene seeks to accomplish in terms of entertainment value.

As I sat in my chair feeling desperate to be intrigued or entertained on any level, I tried to grasp at all the possible more interesting avenues the screenplay could have gone. There are five writers who helmed the screenplay but I got the impression that each of them had only a tenth of a brain—thus producing a movie with only half a brain.

They could have explored the American mentality of militarization and implications for fusing man-made and alien technology. They could have delved deeper into international relations and the complex politics that come into play when beings outside of earth come in and do not abide by any of the rules. They could have compared and contrasted two generations’ approach to war and warfare.

Instead, creators of “Independence Day: Resurgence” chooses to traverse the path of least resistance instead of making the effort to provide an engaging mainstream summer blockbuster. It is pessimistic filmmaking and I found the work to be distasteful, completely unnecessary, and its title should be cemented underneath the term “cash grab.”

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