You can always rely on Hollywood to up the ante.
Finding new landmarks to destroy was never going to be enough. Teasing the annihilation of a rebuilt, reinforced White House, only one stop in a never-ending parade of lip-service to the still rollickingly good original, was never going to satisfy. Seeing a city smashed to pieces is one thing; watching London get flattened by the slowly descending skyscrapers of another city, in this case Singapore (physics be damned) makes for a very promising disaster flick.
If you think you’ve seen this film before, you’re not far off. Aliens don’t take too kindly to earth’s habitual residents, Jeff Goldblum says everything the audience is thinking, just about every character is a fighter pilot and Brent Spiner (of Star Trek fame) is visibly having a great time. Heavily reliant on nostalgia for the original, even opening with straight footage from the much-loved predecessor, its only about two thirds of the way in that the creative team really start to embrace the franchise’s B-Movie roots, and embrace them they do.
Realizing (a little too late) that anyone who goes to watch a sequel to Independence Day is really just there for a good time and another “welcome to earth” moment, in its final act Resurgence abandons any pretence of taking itself seriously and joyously revels in the schlockiness you would expect from a film where the world places its untempered faith in Jeff Goldblum, yet again, to fight off an alien horde.
And the ending does not disappoint. A series (yes, it’s now a series) which ingeniously reasoned that the man best known for playing The Next Generation’s Commander Data was the prime choice to head up an alien research facility ultimately cottons on to what it’s really all about and delivers a whopper of a finale.
There’s a lot of things to like about Resurgence, and in equal measure several ill-judged ventures that will irk the faithful. There are a couple of speeches, woefully attempting to capture the magic of President Whitmore’s (Bill Pullman’s) iconic call to action, so lacklustre that they shouldn’t have even tried. Fun in no small part to see every nation come together two decades ago to take on the invasion, as if in reverse this film begins with the world united in defence and ends almost entirely focused on one player, no prizes for guessing which one. Striking in the later shift in tone, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise in a sequel which refers to a war-torn African nation as ‘Central Africa’ and where the destruction of several major world capitals kind of just falls off the radar.
A few of the new characters are just as fun as their original counterparts, none more so than Charlie (Travis Tope), best mate to the sequel’s figurehead Jake (Liam Hemsworth) and one of Resurgence’s best and funniest assets, even if the film forgets him for 90 minutes. Playing up the seasoned odd couple trope to no end are the delightfully-paired stuffy US accountant (Nicholas Wright) and the non-descript African nation’s battle-seasoned Commander (Deobia Oparei from Game of Thrones). Ostensibly setting up for another sequel, the filmmakers would do well to delve into the now concluded lengthy ground-war between the African locals and the technologically-advanced extra-terrestrials in what could very well be a hugely entertaining, Predator-style conflict, rather than another ode to the destruction-epics of decades past.
You won’t quite feel like you’ve seen it all before, and certainly not that ending, but the many who don’t feel inclined to make the trek out to the cinema to see the Will Smith-free sequel would do just as well to revisit the original in all its high-budget, B-grade glory.
Independence Day: Resurgence is in cinemas now. Happy 4th of July