When "Independence Day" was released in 1996, there was something refreshing about a movie that chose to blow up most of the world before saving it. The heroics of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum mattered little because millions of people were already dead. While there were plenty of disaster flicks before "ID4," the novelty of watching The White House, Mount Rushmore, The Washington Monument and other famous landmarks explode was pretty entertaining.
"Independence Day: Resurgence" had a different field to plow. America has been bombarded with global destruction movies since the original. Hell, director Roland Emmerich himself has released "The Day After Tomorrow," 1998's "Godzilla," "2012" and "White House Down" since 1996, safely making him the modern day Irwin Allen. America is over-saturated with big-budget disaster movies, and – since 9/11 – Americans have shown less affection for watching famous landmarks explode. Clearly, "Resurgence" will require some new tricks to stand out from the pack.
The film does stand out from every single other disaster movie, but mostly because it is Grade Z, full-blown schlock. The sheer volume of unintentional laughter, dead-eyed embarrassing performances, and wooden dialogue make this an absolute blast to watch. When a character from the original died during a building collapsed, I erupted in laughter in a silent theater, eliciting more than a few nasty stares.
The plot is simple: THE ALIENS ARE BACK! Randy Quaid, Goldblum and The Fresh Prince didn't stop them after all. Luckily, humanity has a ton of alien weapons left over that they became really good at using. So the movie is basically "Halo," but less interactive. Things blow up constantly, but there isn't a moment that doesn't feel like a video game since there are no models, stunts, or miniatures in this... just pixels in a computer.
A huge part of this movie is setting up the children of most of the characters from the original to be the new heroes. Unfortunately, they're not interesting. Little Hemsworth comes across as the best new character, but that's only because he knows how to calibrate his performance to allow for schlock. William Fichtner, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox and Bill Pullman are all lost here, waiting for the checks to clear before leaving their trailer.
"Resurgence" also plays as the middle chapter in a trilogy. There will be an ending to the story of this specific invasion, but the film puts too much of its running time into setting up a "grander" mythology explaining why the aliens are after Earth. Sadly, despite the fact that the third part of the trilogy promises to be quite fun, no one will trust the "Independence Day" franchise after this one.
If you take pleasure from laughing at terrible movies, this film is for you. Sure, there are a few fun moments, but all around, "Resurgence" is a genuinely terrible movie. I can't in good conscience recommend it. A drunken 3am Redbox fling might be forgivable, but you'll hate yourself in the morning.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Dir. Roland Emmerich
Now playing at Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX