There have been several movies in recent years looking to recapture the magic felt by those who attended movies in the 80s and 90s, either by creating a new experience or by playing on the nostalgia felt by the movie goer. Two movies that capitalized on that nostalgia by creating new stories in familiar worlds were ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens’. Both of these movies take their tasks seriously, using a familiar story or environment to forge a new path, sometimes with familiar characters and other times with new ones. Both movies did well at the box office and among fans who went to see them both casual and dedicated. It is with this in mind a movie goer could hope that the newest iteration of Independence Day would be an enjoyable or at least fun film. Unfortunately it was not.
A few thoughts about ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’:
- The pacing in this movie (which had a two hours and nine minutes run time) was poor. In the first act it seemed as if the film hoped to just catch the movie goes up to speed in the quickest and not necessarily most efficient way possible. Many jump cuts from one scene to the next and in some cases from space to earth without much explanation. By the time action is taking place, new characters have been introduced and characters from the previous film reintroduced without much in the way of an actual introduction.
- Poor character development. While there are familiar faces in many ways those faces are completely foreign as the choices they make and gravitas they had in the first film has been squandered through the writing and direction. Some characters that have grown up since “The battle of 1996” are portrayed by lesser known and unfamiliar faces which creates a sense of separation between the viewer and the characters. The feeble attempts to create a backstory fall victim to the normal tropes of any movie in the alien/military genre. (in at least one case a character from the first film has made a complete and inexplicable career change) Also there are some brand new characters introduced in the movie who are shown to explain more of the world as the viewer should see it, but are then relied on heavily to advance the plot in a way that seem to stray the film from familiar yet again.
- Too many aliens. In this iteration of the movie the aliens are out of the ships and on the ground fighting in some cases. This takes away from the feel of the original movie and even changes the genre from a more disaster oriented science fiction film, to a full science fiction film. The words “intergalactic” are uttered which for some reason felt out of place.
- No real decision made on tone. This movie at times wanted to be funny, and at other times wanted to have heart. All in all, the jokes felt tired and because of the aforementioned lack of character development the stakes for the danger felt ultimately too low.
- Poor use of minority and women characters. While this movies boasts diversity among both minority and women many of their roles add no real value to the movie. Eventually white men are called upon to do the majority of the thinking and the saving of the world.
- Silly Plot. Now for the actual story, the motivation of the protagonists, the motivation of the antagonists, it all seemed very silly at its core. This may have to do with the fact that when the plot zooms out wide from the original film expanding on the universe reveals the many plot holes that went previously unaddressed. Simple things like why after twenty years would they not have some sort of unofficial name for the aliens, they were still literally calling them “the aliens”. The world building was rushed with every advance in technology being explained by saying they used the alien technology to enhance their own. The fact that of course despite that the world was working to together against the “aliens” the US was still the head of the global government, which came off self serving. At one point in the movie, a character refers to it being the 4th of July (“It’s the fourth of July lets give them some fireworks” a poor attempt to reference Will Smith whose absence is felt for the duration of this movie) which is off putting because the date (besides it being 20 years after the first incident) is not really addressed, in general the passage of time from day to day in the present period of time is basically ignored. This seems odd when in the first film they clearly give parameters to the time period in which the events happened setting up events on each day. By not adhering to this tactic in the sequel (going back to pacing) the film seems lost in establishing the high stakes vs. the ever changing timeline.
- Visually appealing. This movie clearly spent its budget on CGI which looked very good on screen. From the mother ships, to the fighter ships, weapons and even the aliens themselves, visually this movie was fun to watch.
With the visual aspect this movie is worth seeing as a respite from the summer heat, however the poor everything else about it puts in on the low end of films worth seeing this summer. 2 of 5 stars.