Review: “We had 20 years to prepare,” said the tagline in Independence Day: Resurgence poster, which poses as a meta-explanation of the filmmakers’ temporal preparation, especially Roland Emmerich, for this sequel. Interestingly, that sentence isn’t the only meta-explanation to be displayed.
“I’ve had years to get us ready. We never had a chance,” David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) – one of the recurring characters from Independence Day – confessed in remorse as if he’s confessing this sequel’s fundamental sin. Resurgence has wasted most years in dormant only to launch a sequel, which offers nothing new but summer blockbuster entertainment at Emmerich’s finest.
Yet, Resurgence has truly prepared a counter argument for that – the way former President Whitmore (Bill Pulman) responds to David’s confession. He said, “We didn’t last time, either,” Resurgence has said it loud and clear that the atonement it takes is by manifesting itself as a carbon copy of the predecessor, in a positive way.
Despite their inability to offer something new, Resurgence convincingly replicates the level of campiness Independence Day offered full with those patriotic jargons and exhilarating action sequences. The plot is as thin, so as the character development and emotion range; securing the possibility that Emmerich knows well the key factors of his franchise.
To blend patriotism and alien invasion tropes was an old achievement, now Emmerich’s task is only connecting modern audiences to this 20-year-in-dormant franchise. In orchestrating so, most important characters from the first film minus Will Smith are brought back – from David (Goldblum) and Whitmore (Pullman), which should’ve formed a trinity with Smith, to the presumably dying Dr. Okun (Brent Spinner). To adapt with the time constraint and to fill the gap, those veterans are combined with younger generation characters led by Jake (Liam Hemsworth), Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), son of the late Col. Hiller (Smith), as well as Patty (Maika Monroe), Whitmore’s daughter.
Please underline this: Independence Day might be a big film in its era; yet, its reputation isn’t as majestic as other dormant franchises which got life-supporting sequels from last year – say Star Wars, Terminator or even Jurassic Park. Consequently, facilitating new audiences to comprehend the connection to the first film is challenging; once more, Emmerich realizes it, therefore making this ‘connection issue’ a king of inside jokes for those who understand.
Independence Day was able to display the massive frenzy of alien invasion to audiences in 1996 with grand set-pieces and explosive sound mixing. At some points, Resurgence is able to do the same thing to modern audiences with much bigger set-pieces and more destructive imagery (as if it’s taken immediately from Emmerich’s 2012) depicted with massive CGI. The editing might be a mess resulting in less coherent frame-to-frame narrative, but this sequel is able to launch several fun moments, although not as monumental as its predecessor.
To wrap it into a verdict: Resurgence might be able to unleash a more vicious alien and might lead to an “interstellar” sequel; however, it seemingly has an identity crisis. Resurgence has a potential to be a bridge for this franchise – which falls short due to its inability to depict “clear” connection between episodes; at the same time, it’s never been an original stand-alone film due to amount of elements it borrows from the predecessor. Bottom line: Resurgence could still manage to bring its first installments’ campiness, patriotism, and guilty-pleasure.
Good news is: there will be lots of people who re-watch Independence Day or better, there will be lots more who will watch it for the first time. Then, more people will realize that there’s a time where Roland Emmerich makes a good film. Bad news is: Is it too early to call Independence Day: Resurgence as a Emmerich’s Force Awakens?
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Directed by: Roland Emmerich Written by: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, James Vanderbilt (screenplay) Starred by: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jessie T. Usher Runtime: 120 mins Rated PG-13