By Daniel Schwartz
Contributing Guest Reviewer
When Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day was released in 1996, it put a fun and explosive twist on the classic alien invasion story. With a stellar cast, planetary destruction, and a world in peril, this blockbuster film set a higher bar for all action/sci-fi films that followed. Warning: Spoilers below!
Unfortunately, it took 20 years to create a big-budget sequel that just could not measure up to the original.
While the original movie was relatable because it was set in the “present day”, Resurgence takes us to a 2016 that is vastly different than the world we live in. As humans salvage the wreckage of the crashed alien ships, technology takes a giant leap and the world of Resurgence resembles more of a futuristic utopia instead of the world we know today.
Not only was the Earth in the movie unfamiliar, but the movie was also missing the most important piece of the 1996 puzzle, Will Smith. Smith’s Steven Hiller provided quite a bit of the laughs and the fun that made the first film so successful. His absence is apparent throughout as there are no characters that pick up his personality torch. Jessie Usher, who plays a now-grown Dylan Hiller (Steven’s step-son) has the personality of a cardboard cutout. The writers missed a big opportunity to make Usher likeable and instead turned him into Liam Hemsworth’s (the only character with a little personality) serious-as-nails sidekick.
Enough with the bad. While there are some glaring problems with this film, there are also some things that were done very well. First of all, the visual effects are stunning. Dropping an entire city on London definitely created an ominous sense of doom (and looked amazing). Secondly, while the film did lack the heart and personality of the first, it did have a fun character in Brent Spiner’s Dr. Oaken. After waking up from his 20 year coma (and miraculously being at full mental and physical health), his humor and excitement draw the audience in and make him more likeable than his 1996 version.
In an attempt to universe-build, Emmerich creates a different alien species that is has been fighting the invading horde and teaches other species to do the same. In a clear attempt to continue the story, the “good” alien sphere shows them how to take the fight to the enemy (suggesting that the next sequel, if there is one, will take place in outer space). Is this movie deserving of a sequel? I am on the fence about that. If they can continue to flesh out some of the characters and put some personality into the heroes, then they could have a potentially successful formula.
Overall, the film fails to live up to the promise of the original. It lacked the heart, relatability, and shock value from 1996. That being said, Resurgence is a good popcorn movie that follows a familiar chain of events, and looks amazing doing it.
Rating: 6.75 out of 10. The rating may have been higher if the original was not as good as it was.