“It was exactly what we were expecting.”
That’s how two young men exiting an 8 pm showing Thursday evening for “Independence Day: Resurgence” summed up their thoughts on the movie. Another larger group of boys left the movie cackling about how dumb it was.
Those are the two reactions I expect you’ll receive from Fox’s “Independence Day” sequel out Friday. It’s probably the reason the studio was hesitant in allowing US press to screen the film until opening day. (A NYC screening is set for 11 am Friday).
If you’ve seen 1996’s “Independence Day” movie — and at this point, how could you not? It only plays on cable non-stop around the Fourth of July — then you can probably more or less guess the basic gist of the sequel.
20 years later, the aliens return to Earth to exact revenge on the humans who blew them to smithereens ages ago. In that time, we’ve made good use of the leftover alien technology to help make advancements in military and defence.
The aliens come in another huge mothership, larger than the last (and that one was pretty big) and they go to town taking out London, much of the US East coast, and more. The sequences are like watching several of “Resurgence” director Roland Emmerich’s disaster movies (“2012,” “Godzilla,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) all rolled into one.
If you’re afraid “Resurgence” overdid the destruction by glorifying it for a long extended period of time, it did not.
The showing I attended was not packed. I counted about 50 people in the theatre about five minutes before the film was set to begin. Mind you, this was a large theatre in New York City’s Union Square, complete with a balcony. If this was “Captain America: Civil war,” it would have been sold out.
Reactions from the crowd during the movie were mixed. There were a lot of chuckles throughout in response to both silly plot points and some cheesy dialogue. (This is a movie which has Liam Hemsworth ask another character whether they peed their pants before telling them not to worry because he did, too.)
Despite that, the small crowd did applaud the film after it ended. I can’t say the same for the three times I saw “Batman v Superman” in theatres. In a summer stuffed with superhero movies, sequels, and reboots, this is a sequel (or maybe a requel?) that feels pretty fresh. That’s probably because it’s the first movie in a long time where I’ve felt like I’ve gone in not knowing much about the film other than the general plot.
If you’re looking for a lot of nonsensical alien violence then “Resurgence” more than delivers. You see more of the aliens than in the first “Independence Day.” Towards the end, it may become a bit too much for audiences. You know that feeling when you think a movie’s going to end and then it just keeps going? You get a bit of that with “Resurgence,” which only clocks in at two hours.
“Resurgence” is not better than its predecessor, and I don’t think it will ever come to play repeatedly on television on July Fourth like “Independence Day.”
The bright spots of this sequel are a trio of the performances from returning cast members. There’s the always wonderful Jeff Goldblum who has some of the best line delivery (seriously, Fox should have just used him and him alone to sell this movie); Bill Pullman, America’s president for life; and (mini-spoiler) the return of Brent Spiner as Dr. Brackish Okun, the hippy Area 51 research director who was presumed dead in the first film. Like Quicksilver in Fox’s “X-Men” series, Okun just steals the show on his own. That was unexpected.
Sure, the other Hemsworth (“The Hunger Games”) is in the film, too, and while you can tell he’s having a blast flying around as a fighter pilot, he’s basically just there for eye candy and to get in a tizzy with another main character. Someone needed top billing along with Goldblum and it wasn’t Will Smith, who is one of the only big stars who didn’t return for the sequel.
And that’s where you feel like some of the magic of the original is just missing. There are some moments that try to recapture the nostalgia of the first film. Pullman’s president figure tries to give another rousing speech to drive momentum that isn’t nearly as memorable. Hemsworth tries to punch an alien in the face à la Smith. However, you don’t care much for any of the new, younger, diverse cast members.
Oh and in case you’re missing the star of the first film, there are a few photo reminders that Smith was in the original movie — you know, in case anyone forgot. In fact, he’s one of the first things you’ll see once the movie begins just to get the elephant in the room out of the way.
When it gets down to it, you could nitpick the film for plot holes and some pretty laughable dialogue, but you could also do that with the original. Anyone doing that isn’t really getting the point of “Independence Day.” It’s just a movie about destroying things and kicking alien butt, the world gathering together to fight a common enemy on a national holiday. It’s a popcorn movie.
If you go in wanting that out of “Resurgence,” you’ll probably be pretty satisfied. You definitely get all of the alien action your sci-fi heart desires (even if it gets a little more ridiculous as the movie carries onward).
If I had to compare “Independence Day: Resurgence” to two other recently rebooted action movies after 20 years or so, I would put “Jurassic World” first, “Resurgence” second, and “Terminator: Genisys” in last.
Oh, and in case you wanted more “Independence Day,” the film sets itself up for a sequel, one which Emmerich has already teased as an “intergalactic journey” that will take place a year or two after “Resurgence.”
If this film does well at the box office, we may certainly be headed into space.
“Independence Day: Resurgence” is in theatres now.
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