Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day: Resurgence
I’m not going to sit here and pretend like Independence Day is some great movie—it’s not. It’s nonsensical trash like all of Roland Emmerich’s movies. But it is at least fun nonsensical trash, arguably the only Emmerich movie that is in any way actually enjoyable. Independence Day: Resurgence, the twenty-years-later sequel/soft reboot, is neither fun nor enjoyable—it is straight up nonsensical Emmerich trash. It rehashes too much of the original movie to be interesting and crams in too many subplots to be coherent, but worst of all sins…it’s BORING. It’s amazing how a movie about aliens coming back for a grudge match is so f*cking boring.
Independence Day: Resurgence is like if a toddler threw a bowl of alphabet soup at the wall and managed to spell a couple words in all the random chaos. The most annoying thing about this movie is that, amid its general terribleness, there are some decent ideas. One neat idea is that following the global destruction twenty years ago, the world banded together and there is now worldwide peace and everyone has crazy future tech built off the leftover alien scrap on our planet. This is now a world of moon bases and death rays, which is a GREAT setup for a sci-fi action/adventure.
Another slick set up is introducing the conflict between the young fighter pilots. Jake (Lesser Hemsworth Liam) and Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), the grown-up son of Will Smith’s character in the original film—not the same actor, though. Like Mae Whitman, the original kid got replaced—have a rivalry that almost resulted in Dylan being killed. But their conflict is not over piloting skills, it’s that Dylan gets a leg up on getting plum assignments because he’s a war hero’s son, and Jake is just a run-of-the-mill orphan, presumably one of millions after the first invasion.
That’s a new conflict that uses the first film as a springboard but develops organically in the context of Resurgence. They’re not rehashing anything in this subplot, and it opens the door to actual characters having meaningful interactions. The only part of the movie that works is the part with Dylan, Jake, and the other pilots trapped inside the alien ship and trying to figure out how to get out. That’s some new sh*t that isn’t just repeating what we’ve already seen in the first movie.
But that’s only ten minutes in a two-hour movie. It’s not nearly enough to save Resurgence. There are so many subplots it’s impossible to invest in any one storyline, and there are so many characters you’ll never remember the names of most of them. Many people return from the first movie only to die in this one, and still others return despite there being no logical reason to include them in this movie (oh hi Judd Hirsch). There are dumb weiner kids AND a dumb weiner dog, and Sela Ward is president until she’s unceremoniously killed so that the general guy can become the new president.
It’s not as egregious as how Michael Bay treats female characters, but the women of Resurgence have nothing to do. Maika Monroe was cast as Bill Pullman’s grown up daughter, replacing Mae Whitman, and people were understandably upset. But since this movie is sh*t and President’s Daughter is a useless character and being the Lesser Hemsworth’s love interest is hardly a resume builder, can we all agree that Mae Whitman dodged a bullet? Yes, it sucks the way she was treated. But also, she didn’t have to be in Independence Day: Resurgence.
No one looks excited to be here. Jeff Goldblum seems to realize how bad the movie is and is performing his whole part sarcastically, which makes him the most watchable person on screen. Bill Pullman is counting his money in his head, William Fichtner looks like he’s checking text messages between every take, and Charlotte Gainsbourg shows up and looks like she immediately regretted this decision. Chinese star Angelababy plays one of the young fighter pilots and has more natural charisma than all of them put together, but she’s reduced to nothing more than eye candy.
Independence Day: Resurgence is a bad movie that adds insult to injury by wasting some actual good ideas. The disaster porn is surprisingly limited, but there’s still a lot of CGI nonsense thanks to the number of computer-generated air battles strewn throughout the movie. And the big alien scheme to destroy our planet is all about mining the core of our planet, which means this is all about liquid hot magma. When the aliens come back for Independence Day 3, I fully expect them to have sharks with laser beams attached to their heads. This is a ridiculous f*cking movie and the only reason you should ever see it is if you’re dying of heatstroke and the only place you have to get out of the sun is a movie theater playing Independence Day: Resurgence. Then I guess it’s okay. But if you’re not on the brink of death itself, then there’s no excuse.
Attached - Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Bill Pullman at the Los Angeles premiere of Resurgence last week.