We had twenty years to prepare. So did they...
Independence Day: Resurgence is a text book demonstration on how far summer blockbusters have come along in the last twenty years. And by this, I mean it shows just how superior every single other summer movie is! ID2 is without a doubt one of the worst summer films (or film of any period for that matter) to grace the silver screen in a very long time.
Rewind back to 1996, and the original Independence Day. I was a mere teenager when Will Smith and co took to the skies to battle aliens. Upon viewing it now, yes it is slightly hokey, but there still exists a sense of fun despite the many glaring plot holes. It’s important to remember that ID was appropriate for its era – the mid 90s when Area 51 and Roswell was all the rage, The X-Files was huge, and CGI was taking cinema by storm.
By contrast, ID2 offers no justification for its existence whatsoever. The story takes place 20 years after the original alien invasion, and the monsters are back for revenge. This time they’ve brought bigger ships, a bigger army, and pre-1996 CGI. The film is crammed full of bad acting, terrible dialogue, bad acting, clunky exposition, bad acting, ridiculous plot devices, and uber-cheesy speeches. Did I mention the bad acting? Terrible.
Many of the original cast return - aside from Will Smith, who must have actually read the script. Brent Spinner is back as Dr Okun, seemingly risen from the dead and now acting like he’s in a Carry On film. Bill Pullman returns as a bearded former-President Whitmore, whose purpose is to deliver cheesy speech after cheesy speech as people stare at him in awe. (Try not to laugh when he finally shaves, resembling a haggard Michael Douglas desperate for sleep). Vivica A. Fox and Judd Hirch’s appearances are unnecessary and just thrown in there, serving no relevance to the plot.
And of course, Jeff Goldblum is back as David Levinson, the genius who cracked the alien code in the original film and flew an alien ship into space before hooking his laptop up to the alien mothership’s hard drive (good thing those intergalactic aliens run a Windows operating system!). Goldblum is disappointingly bad. His character just delivers chunk after chunk of exposition to make sure the audience knows exactly what is going on, and the script Goldblum has to work with makes him sound like he’s playing a parody on his ‘science guy’ stereotype.
Then there’s the new cast. The returning players all take a back step to allow new faces such as Liam Hemsworth and Jessie T. Usher more screen time. An hour in and the film is still introducing new characters for the audience to follow, which just further adds to the mess and confusion. Usher is particular awful, his acting style perhaps more suited to daytime soap dramas. The script across the board is atrocious. Once you look past the cheesy cheering (accompanied by equally cheesy music), and the cheesy ‘motivational’ speeches, you’re left with a lot of really bad ‘comedy’. The original film actually featured some funny one-liners (Will Smith wisecracking “Welcome to Earth” after he’s smacked an alien in the face, the chuckling “Now that’s what I call a close encounter!”). In ID2, the humour is all forced and excruciatingly cringe worthy.
The plot is so ridiculous it beggars belief. I spent the majority of ID2’s running time just rolling my eyes. The main plot device involves an alien sphere that crashes on Earth with the intent of helping us humans fight of the other alien invaders. Oh yes, and the alien sphere can speak English, of course. Elsewhere, we have convenient plot devices and lazy writing, such as radar trucks that just happen to be lying around just when they’re needed (“It’s a good thing the army forgot to pick this up!” explains one character), and a rickety school bus outrunning a gigantic alien creature in an open desert. And for some inexplicable reason, everyone seems to be in possession of convenient CGI 3D maps – the aliens have a map of USA, the human submarine crew just happen to have a map of the Earth’s core (don’t ask!). And furthermore, if the entire Earth is now supposedly unified after the events of ID1, then why are only the USA doing the fighting? The country is being torn to pieces while this ‘unified’ Earth politely looks on? Hmmm.
There is no feeling of threat at all anywhere in ID2, the whole experience just feels like watching a boring videogame. But with really bad CGI. Just look at the really fakely lit green-screen end scenes and try not to laugh. But I suppose with ID3 already greenlit, it’s the studio bosses who are really laughing... All the way to the bank.
If this is the sort of shit Hollywood is happy to churn out, then maybe a real alien invasion would be welcome, to spare us all from the misery of having to sit through watching any more of this nonsense. Avoid like your life depended on it.