Independence Day: Resurgence is a sequel of a movie that defined an entire genre. The first part in 1996 was the first of the movies that showed off large scale destruction helped with CGI. Two decades later, we get to find out if the concept still holds up.
When writing this review, I find the most difficult part is to describe the plot. Because as with the original Independence Day from 1996, the plot is very simple. Aliens invade, destroying a lot of stuff. Humans decide to not just go quietly into the night and fight back. That’s it. In the sequel – Independence Day: Resurgence – the plot is not much different. Only that that very first part is now “Aliens return”.
That said, the premise still works remarkably well, mainly because it’s such a classic tale of human endurance, ingenuity and – in case of this newly minted franchise – trigger happiness. It’s nice to see that they didn’t think to re-invent anything and just rolled with it once more. But it does make the plot summary a bit awkward.
So yeah, aliens. Pew pew lasers of death. Humans shaking fists and flying jets.
It’s really cool to see how humanity adapted technology left behind by the alien invaders after what humanity has come to refer to as The War of ‘96. In the 20 years that have passed since David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) and Steven Hiller (Will Smith) flew to the alien mothership and infected it with a computer virus he wrote based on the fact that all our computer systems have been reverse engineered from the wreckage found at Roswell in 1947, saving the world, humanity has mastered cold fusion. Flying to the moon has become something like driving to the supermarket. Guns are now shooting green lasers… well, almost all guns.
Here’s the thing: The technological upgrades to the world have been applied very selectively and not always in a way that makes sense. For example: Rifles shoot green lasers, but handguns still shoot regular bullets. Helicopters are now powered by a compact, cold fusion powered system but cars still run on gasoline. The only discernible reason for this seems to be that the movie needs to have a scene where the gas runs out and one where the character of Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) throws a handgun at an alien after he has run out of bullets.
Despite this, the makers of this movie have a great grasp on the world of this movie. They appear to have thought of everything, especially what society is concerned. The world governments have united and the people of this planet stand as one. With the usual exceptions, of course. The politicians still squabble and African Warlords still are a thing. But everyone knows someone who died in The War of ‘96 or as a result of the wide-spread devastation that the first movie brought.
Pilot Movie to a Series
It becomes apparent that Independence Day is to be a franchise now. Resurgence isn’t to be a movie that has a defined ending or a climax per se. It’s a setup for bigger things to come. None of the character arcs feel resolved, there are so many hints at possible storylines and whatnot. It feels a lot like a pilot episode to a TV series that has similar dynamics to a regular buddy cop TV show.
And honestly, why not? There are a million ways the initial premise of “Aliens on Earth” could be expanded, not just with a repeating pattern of increasingly bigger ships arriving on Earth, wanting to end all life on the planet. Imagine the massive impact alien technology and its integration into the human existence can have. There are so many stories to be told. This is nowhere more apparent than with the character of Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei), a warlord from Africa whose main headquarters are near the only ship that actually landed in 1996. His hobbies include hunting for aliens and he’s single-handedly figured out how to kill the heavily armoured and superhumanly strong creatures with a machete. Imagine this: There’s at least one guy out there who can kill aliens with machetes. That guy alone could carry a movie. Independence Day 3 has already been announced.
As it stands, though, I have to rate this movie somehow. I’ve come to the conclusion that I rate it with a shrug. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it. I wasn’t bored and I wasn’t super entertained by it. I don’t regret having seen it at the movies but I don’t really have the urge to go see it again. But if you want to sit down in the cinema, eat some popcorn or nachos and have a beer that you somehow smuggled in because you just can’t stomach the Heineken they serve at the cinemas in Switzerland, then Independence Day: Resurgence is absolutely not a bad choice. It opens in Swiss Cinemas on July, 14th, 2016.