Josh and Violet share their male vs. female perspective reviews of Independence Day: Resurgence, directed by Roland Emmerich, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Liam Hemsworth, and more!
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Violet’s Movie Review of
Independence Day: Resurgence:
It’s been 20 years coming, but Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster hit Independence Day, has finally hit the big screen. Roland Emmerich, who directed the first film, returned to direct the sequel, and also had a hand in writing it, which he also did with the first. Independence Day: Resurgence sees the return of familiar faces from the original, including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and Vivica A. Fox (noticeably absent is Will Smith, who decided not to return), while also welcoming in some new faces, such as Liam Hemsworth, Jesse T. Usher, and Maika Monroe.
Independence Day: Resurgence takes place 20 years after the events of the first film. Thanks to the technology that we obtained from the alien invaders, our technology has progressed immensely, and we even have a base on the moon. What’s more, the world has been at peace all this time, having previously united against the alien threat. But we always knew that they’d be back, and we’ve been preparing for it with the formation of the ESD (Earth Space Defense), of which David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is the Director. The aliens ultimately make their inevitable return, this time in a much bigger way, and it becomes a question of whether we prepared enough, as Earth once again finds itself fighting against annihilation.
Let me preface this by saying that words cannot express how much the original Independence Day means to me. My 12-year old self adored that movie. It was one of the rare movies that I got to see on opening day (usually we were only allowed to go to the dollar theater), and on Christmas in 1996, one of the presents that my siblings and I received was a VHS copy of Independence Day. I set myself to memorizing the President’s speech, which I can still recite to this day. It quickly became one of those movies that we watched over and over again, and can recite all the lines to. I also often quote the movie in everyday life. Lucky for me, my husband also knows the movie just as well as I do, so he totally understands what I’m talking about. I guess I didn’t really consider that there would be a sequel, especially after so much time had passed, but then a few years ago I heard rumblings about it being a possibility. Then it went back and forth as to whether Will Smith would be in it. I started to get really excited, looking forward to seeing these characters I knew and loved embarking on a new adventure. Ultimately, Will Smith bowed out, which was a huge disappointment, but I was still excited. However, I went into Independence Day: Resurgence with relatively low expectations, as I had to be realistic about the sequel, knowing that there was no way it could ever live up to what I had built the original up to in my mind over the last 20 years.
That being said, let’s start off with the good. Considering that the original was made in 1996, it’s a given that the CGI and special effects in Independence Day: Resurgence are much improved and greatly superior to that of its predecessor. So, yes, visually, it is quite pleasing to the eyes. Additionally, being such a big fan of the first film, I noticed quite a few little Easter eggs that were subtle references to the original, which I enjoyed. As for the storyline, it wasn’t merely just a repeat of the original storyline but on a bigger scale. There were new and different aspects to discover about the aliens and their history, and there was a mystery to solve that kept me intrigued.
Now for the bad. It was evident that there’s been a lot going on with researching the alien civilization over the past 20 years, and while there were some interesting elements, it felt like we weren’t getting the whole story, and like they were throwing too much at us at once without giving us a proper explanation. I previously mentioned that the visual effects were superb, but maybe the movie concentrated too much on the visuals instead of developing likable and memorable characters and relationships. While I enjoyed seeing so many of the characters return from the original, for many of them, I was disappointed and felt let down about the purpose their characters served. I felt like some of them had been paid a huge disservice. This also goes for certain characters who did not make a return, as their absence was either barely explained, or not even mentioned at all. I understand that the film probably wanted to make way for a new generation of characters rather than dwell on the old ones (the ending of the film makes a strong suggestion of there being a sequel), and I might have been able to get behind that notion if I felt like these new characters were capable of carrying on the franchise. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like they were. With the absence of Will Smith, the film tried to replace his character with a similar one, and this is the role that Liam Hemsworth’s character played. Although Hemsworth showed slightly more personality than I expected, he fell far short of filling the shoes of Will Smith. He had nowhere near the charisma, charm, and comedic delivery that Smith did. Had a different actor who could pull it off have been cast in that role, maybe I would have a different opinion. In any case, throughout the film, I felt like they were trying to make parallels between certain new characters and scenarios and echo that of certain characters and scenarios from the previous film. But it just wasn’t working for me. It felt like the movie made feeble attempts at trying to establish the dramatic and emotional elements of the first film, but failed in doing so. By the end, I realized one major thing Independence Day: Resurgence lacked: heart.
Was it worth the 20 year wait? Let’s put it this way: I would have preferred to wait longer if it meant a more heartfelt story and the return of Will Smith.
While I did have fun watching Independence Day: Resurgence, and enjoyed it for what it was, it fell far short of the charm and lacked the emotional connections found in the original. Ultimately, when all was said and done, I found myself yearning for what it could have been. Instead, it was just another forgettable alien movie. Fun, but forgettable.
Will I see the next sequel, assuming there is one? Probably, but only out of allegiance to and nostalgia for the original Independence Day, and in hopes that it can somehow get back on track with what made me fall in love with Independence Day in the first place.
My rating: 6.5/10
Josh’s Movie Review of
Independence Day: Resurgence:
Independence Day: Resurgence was a film I had tepid feelings about. I actually really enjoyed the first movie for what it is—an over-the-top action/sci-fi film that is meant to be as cheesy as possible while provide a reasonably interesting apocalyptic story. But there was going to be a sequel to this film? Could this be any good? Will Smith wasn’t returning, which really put a damper on my feelings on the sequel. They swapped out some of the child actors for other actors rather than having the original children return. It all seemed a bit odd.
The film had Roland Emmerich return as director, and did bring back much of the previous cast, including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, and Brent Spiner. There wre also several new cast members added to appeal to the younger crowd, including Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, and Maika Monroe.
Independence Day: Resurgence centers around these characters in a new society, 20 years after the aftermath of the alien war in 1996. The nations have united, and technology has made great leaps forward, but as the reason for this film being made—there is another pending threat, and in the words of Jeff Goldblum’s character, this one was supposed to be, “bigger than the last one.”
Unsurprising to me, this film has a meager 33% on Rotten Tomatoes by critics and a 39% audience score. What was surprising to me was that I am a part of that 39%.
No, this movie is not an Oscar movie, or even on the caliber of a superhero movie. Many of the characters feel pretty wooden, and one-dimensional. The movie is clearly hoping to tug at the nostalgia of fans of the first film, quite unsuccessfully, I think. But why did I find this film entertaining?
One reason is my tepid expectations in the first place. I did not plan on walking into this and being blown away as I was with something like Captain America: Civil War or The Dark Knight. I thought this was going to be a pile of garbage, in all honesty. And to be fair—it sort of is. But it is the kind of garbage that I am willing to deal with.
I think the best part of this film was the unique twist the film had. I don’t want to spoil what that is, but it certainly, for myself, made me feel that this film was trying to separate itself from the first one, and not simply rehash the same plot we already had dealt with. Of course there are some elements that are rehashed, which is inevitable considering the premise of the movie is the same as the previous movie, but I think it tries its best to separate itself.
I thought the old cast also did really well in the movie for the most part. I actually found Jeff Goldblum less compelling this time around, but I really enjoyed the parts played by Bill Pullman and Brent Spiner. There was something compelling about them this film. I found Bill Pullman particularly intriguing, whose story was the crazy old man veteran of the alien war.
There were a lot of things to not like about the film though. I don’t know if it is because I am getting older, but the new cast brought in was very un-entertaining. Liam Hemsworth was probably the best of the new group, but I felt even he was mediocre at best. Anytime these characters were on screen, I felt really disengaged from the film.
But looking at the nostalgia strings the movie tried to pull, unfortunately I thought this was not done very well. Probably one of the most iconic moments of the first movie — the President’s rallying speech — is attempted to be integrated into the movie. Unfortunately, it does not really have the effect I thought it would. Also, some storylines from 20 years ago are not addressed, at all, so you are left wondering where certain characters are, which is very disjointing for a movie trying to appeal to our childhood/teenage memories. Many of us know the film by heart, and even watched it recently to make sure we didn’t forget anything. So when something is missing, and nothing is brought up about it, it feels “wrong.”
This movie really lacked any charismatic characters, such as the Will Smith character, or Henry Connick Jr.’s character, The new President lacked the draw that Bill Pullman provided in the first movie, despite me really enjoying William Fitchner as an actor.
One thing the 20 years given to make this sequel has done, is allowed for our technology to get better, when it comes to movie making. This allowed for the much bigger, grander spectacle. But I am finding myself not really enjoying these big budget films that simply use CGI to take care of the special effects. Don’t get me wrong, CGI is a great tool, but I am finding myself wanting to see it blended more into the film, so that it is not so obviously noticed.
There were also some really silly things, like the scene when we first meet Liam Hemsworth’s character, which was completely ridiculous and unbelievable. There are also some rather strange scenes that don’t make sense regarding some characters, that just really didn’t work, I thought.
So overall, I guess with tempered expectations, I was able to find some entertainment in the movie. I think the problem that really comes with this movie is that it is a movie out of its time. Back in the 90s, these big sci-fi epic stories were the big blockbusters for summer. Now we have all of the superhero movies, and these movies just feel odd and out of place now, which is why I think it has received such a low score.
Grading this movie is tough. I know it is not a good movie, but my personal experience with the movie was not bad. I will give the movie a 7 out of 10. It probably should be closer to a 5 out of 10, but again, I had some weird, guilty enjoyment watching this movie. It is too bad it was not as impactful as the original film, but it was not as horrible as I think everyone is making it out to be.