Movie Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

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After twenty years, the aliens that attacked Earth return, bigger and scarier than ever.

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Roland Emmerich, 2016

In the twenty years since aliens first attacked Earth, humans have made huge leaps in technology thanks to the remaining ships. The different nations of Earth have come together to develop an extensive defence system, and a station on the moon acts as an early warning system. Humans who had contact with the aliens begin to have mysterious visions on Earth, just before an unknown ship appears in space just outside Earth. The paranoid humans must decide how to react to this unknown ship…just before the original aliens return in ships the size of oceans, ready to decimate Earth’s forces. A team of heroes has to put aside differences and band together to save the world. As usual.

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There are no humans in this poster or my plot summary because the humans don’t matter.

This movie is garbage. It’s like someone took a book of tropes, a random script generator, and a lot of special effects, threw them in a blender and served up the garbage results in disguise as a movie. Every time you think Resurgence can’t possibly get any worse, it somehow manages to lower the bar even further. The film’s climactic scenes are a series of coincidences and tropes so ridiculous, so preposterous, so mind-numbingly idiotic, that all you can do is laugh at the absurdity on display. The film doesn’t actually start terrible. We have a female president in Emmerich favourite Sela Ward who leads a country with some really cool technological advances. There’s WAY too much expositional voiceover work, but at least the world looks cool. Some of the lore stuff is not horrible, and for a while there the movie seems just garden-variety silly. But when the underwhelming alien invasion starts, everything falls apart completely. The film’s intersection of sexism, racism, and agism really bring it down, but the social themes are the least of its problems. If bringing Jeff Goldblum back for this movie wasn’t bad enough, a storyline with his character’s father, played by Judd Hirsch, is painfully sentimental and awful. Between that, Bill Pullman delivering an underwhelming “inspirational” speech, and the detached wanton destruction on display, this movie feels more like a parody of Roland Emmerich movies than an Emmerich film in itself.

Roland Emmerich seems to have lost sight of the few saving graces that made his early special effects-laden disaster blockbusters so popular and watchable despite their predictability and lack of finesse. As ridiculous as films like Stargate, the original Independence Day, and The Day After Tomorrow are, they actually made us care about their one-dimensional characters. They tapped into something primal. Resurgence can’t even muster the energy to make us think a major character is in peril EVEN WHEN THEY ARE ACTUALLY DYING. The abject destruction of entire cities is committed with a shrug and a sigh. This is partially due to the film’s overstuffed roster, bringing back everybody but Will Smith and the unfairly dismissed Mae Whitman, who was replaced with a worse actress in the blonder, skinnier, perpetually average scream queen Maika Monroe as the president’s daughter. In addition to the familiar characters, we’re introduced to several dull as dishwater new characters, including the lesser Hemsworth as one of film’s least likeable protagonists. Bizarrely, of everyone, it’s Brent Spiner who gets the most development and who has the most fun, with a little Star Trek reference at the end. Thanks to the movie pitching hard at that China money, though, Spiner’s character never once kisses his husband, despite that being arguably the most important romance of the film (some might argue that it’s the President’s daughter and the lesser Hemsworth, but some might be wrong). The only thing I can say to recommend Resurgence is that I’ve rarely laughed so hard in a cinema in my life.

Independence Day: Resurgence on IMDb

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