Movie Review: ‘INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE’ – A cornball invasion feature that’s unavoidably entertaining

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Jared McMillan // Film Critic

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE | 120 min | PG-13
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill PullmanJessie T. UsherMaika MonroeSela WardWilliam FichtnerJudd Hirsch and Vivica A. Fox

We are well underway with the Summer movie season, and, so far, there is yet to be anything that’s just good action fun. Most summers have that one movie where you can just turn your brain off and enjoy the pretty lights and sounds. Those efforts, at least in the action genre, have been next to nothing in 2016.

Well, wait no longer, because we have been gifted the wondrous mess of a spectacle that is INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. The sequel to the 1996 blockbuster is a cacophony of special effects, laser show, destruction, and B-movie editing and dialogue. Make no mistake, this movie knows exactly what it is.

Taking place 20 years after the original invasion, Earth has drastically changed for the better. Everyone is living together in harmony, while civilization has become a mixture of alien and domestic invention. We see that the Battle of 1996 has also made Earth become more defensive in case of further unwelcome visitors. From building cannons that resemble alien weaponry to the defense system orbiting the planet.

We are introduced to several characters who do or say things that give the audience a picture of their personalities: Capt. Dylan Hiller (Jessie Usher) is the poster boy for the world military; Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) is the hot-headed pilot, grounded by his straight-laced genius co-pilot Charlie (Travis Tope); President Lanford (Sela Ward) relishes in grandstanding and popularity; and Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) is there to provide balance, whether it be Lanford, Jake, or her father, Earth’s hero President Whitmore (Bill Pullman).

L-R: Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson, and Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison in INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

L-R: Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson, and Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison in INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

It’s with Whitmore that the audience catches on to something ominous on the horizon. His psychic link to the aliens still exists but is treated as mental illness, but we are witness to his vision. David (Jeff Goldblum) is in Africa investigating a ship, where he, once again, comes across an alien signal. Before long, the military stationed on the moon comes into contact with a sphere-like ship, but is actually a different alien entity. As the aliens arrive, Earth is once again forced to defend its planet on Independence Day, and stop their Queen from harvesting the molten core of the planet.

With Roland Emmerich behind the camera again, we know there is going to be spectacle on spectacle. Where ID4 has certain landmarks that act as the catastrophic trigger for the narrative, its sequel goes bigger. For instance, this mothership covers the Atlantic Ocean. Its arrival/landing provides a huge sequence to show the blind destruction that the aliens employ. The action lags afterward as they use the same maneuvers we saw in ID4. But the realization that they are prepared for what brought them down, leads the movie to go into its own direction, eventually morphing into a 3rd act that resembles a Kaiju movie.

Fair to say, though, that with Roland Emmerich you’re going to get inconsistent acting as well as plot holes the size of an alien crater. Some of the physics don’t add up at all, and the characters’ solution to take down the ship is just as cheesy as uploading a virus. The dialogue is also something else, as it ranges from inspired to unbearably corny. But a main problem that happens with most of Emmerich’s movies is the fact that there is added destruction without purpose. While it’s cool to see Vivica A. Fox reprising her role, she has nothing to do with anything in the movie’s overall story arc.

As bad as the dialogue and editing can be, in the end, you can’t help but laugh at it, because it’s all part of the show. At one point, while trying to escape in flight, David laments “They always go for the landmarks.” And we all know what dialogue we really want, and that’s another President Whitmore speech to rally the troops. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, the main reasons we want to watch INDEPENDENCE DAY is because the action and Whitmore’s speech.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE may not be as good as its predecessor, but it is one entertaining flick.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE opens everywhere today, in 2D, 3D, or 3D IMAX.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.