Written By: Traves Bezenar
There have been a lot of blockbuster sequels so far this summer. Sadly many of those sequels have either failed critically or financially with films like ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Finding Dory’ being the notable exceptions, succeeding at the box office and hitting big with critics. The reason I bring that up is to show that a delayed sequel like ‘Finding Dory’ can still do well regardless of the massive wait between movies. Unfortunately, the only similarity between ‘Finding Dory’ and 'Independence Day: Resurgence’ is the wait. The first ‘Independence Day’ debuted in theaters way back in 1996 and managed to pull in an impressive $800 million worldwide. Last week after a near 20 year wait, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ flew into theaters and crashed and burned. Ir made just under $50 million on its opening weekend which is a bit more than half of what the original did. If you adjust for inflation, the cost of advertising, and the price of production, things start looking grim for the sequel rather quickly.
One of the most notable issues with ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is the absence of the previous film's main star, Will Smith. It was revealed by Smith that the reason he didn’t return is because he was busy filming ‘Suicide Squad’. That excuse makes a lot of sense on Smith’s part but if a studio really wanted they could have held production until Smith was available. Most of the remaining cast from the original return including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and Brent Spiner. All four of the veteran actors give great performances but it sadly isn’t enough to save this doomed movie. Newcomers to the franchise Liam Hemsworth and Jessie T. Usher just lack the acting chops and chemistry to make the film, which centers heavily on their relationship, work. However, the chemistry between Hemsworth and Nicolas Wright is much better and I think the film would have done better to focus on them alone and leave out Usher’s character completely.
As far as special effects go they’re on par with all the other big budget action movies we’ve seen in recent years. Normally that’s not a problem, but for ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ whose original film was praised for its spectacular use of practical effects, I expected more. I thought the invading Aliens looked much better this time around but that can be mostly attributed to the advancement in CGI technology since 1996. I will admit that the the lore surrounding the aliens was much more fleshed out this time around and that’s a mark in the movies favor. But for every mark in the plus column I give ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ there’s two for the negative column. Firstly, while the effects are fine the movie relies too heavily on them, and two, there is just too much going on onscreen at any given time to really enjoy it.
The plot also has a lot of issues and can basically be summed up in three words, “listen to Goldblum”. The story is your basic comedy of errors that could have been resolved in the first act if people didn't act so irrationally. That said, I can usually forgive poor writing early on if it’s meant to set up a good story, but the latter story wasn’t much better. By the time the credits rolled at the end of ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ I was left feeling like nothing that happened mattered. In the end nothing really changed, all the sacrifice was negated, and none of the characters change in any meaningful way. Hell, the only real difference in the end was that I was out $60. The whole film relied far too much on outdated tropes and terrible action movie cliches to appeal to me. It felt less like a sequel to a 90’s action movie and more like a parody of how absurd those movies could be. When the go home line of your film is a variation of “we’re gonna kick so much ass” than there isn’t much hope of the rest of it being much better.
‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ isn't the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it’s not even the worst sequel I've seen this month, but it’s still bad. It’s lazily acted, poorly written, and clearly relied on name recognition to see it through those issues. However, If you’re a big action movie fan, loves explosions, cursing, and destruction, you’ll go home satisfied. But if you’re looking to get lost in a believable story for two hours, keep looking, because you're not going to find that here.