This isn’t a review per se, I just wanted to take a quick detour from my usual reviews to comment on a film I accidentally saw. A few days ago I went to the local cinema and was told that the film I wanted to see was having technical issues. The cinema kindly gave us passes to see any film playing. My friends decided they wanted to see the new Independence Day sequel. I decided to give it a try myself, it’s not really my preferred type of film, but trying new things is usually good for you.If you haven’t seen it yet, some spoilers are below.
SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING!
Unfortunately, Independence Day Resurgence reminded me why I’ve stopped attending these kinds of films.
The story is a confusing mess of loose ends and it seems like the plot stopped every time the film makers felt the need to cameo an actor from the first film. Will Smith, or the lack thereof, sits like a pall over the whole production and the film feels the need to elaborately explain his absence. I think the writers might have been better off dropping most of the cameos and mentions and just proceed with the very large story they had planned. Having to shoehorn in all of the baggage from the last film slows things down and damages the narrative flow of the film. It seems like they couldn’t decide whether to go with a new story or make a nostalgia fest.
The sad thing is, there were actually some very interesting plot ideas teased at and then dropped.
For example, the African soldiers fighting a 20 year guerilla war against the occupants of a downed saucer.
The Chinese pilot and her Uncle, shown prominently in the first 15 minutes and then their story is basically dropped and she becomes another generic pilot in the squadron.
The downed fighter pilots trapped inside the giant alien ship and attempting to sabotage it.
The idea that there are other societies also fighting the invaders.
Most of these missed opportunities seem more interesting than what we actually got. Which is basically a rehash of the first film; big alien ship enters atmosphere, wrecks stuff, first attempt to attack it fails, many pilots die, final battle set up above Area 51 to the accompaniment of a ticking clock, one character has to sacrifice himself to expose the enemy’s weakness. I know I’ve seen this somewhere before…
I was a bit underwhelmed by the “spectacular” special effects. There is a large amount of CG work, some good, some very bad. One particular scene at the end, with a large number of ships circling in a group, looks especially fake, the fire trails from the engines of the hero ship would be bad even by SyFy original movie standards. The CG spaceships and fighters all look inferior to their predecessors and sections of the special effects look rushed.
The acting is competent. Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch steal most of the scenes they’re in. Jeff Goldblum basically mails it in, showing little interest in the whole thing. Bill Pullman’s character is reduced to a walking punch line for much of the film. The younger leads are good enough, but there’s no real chemistry between them and there are some real clunkers in the dialog.
All in all, an average sci-fi film that discards many ideas more interesting than what the film makers kept. It almost seems like they had a more ambitious plan, but decided to play it safe. Another problem is the sheer number of characters and plot lines, there are so many that the film doesn’t do any of them any real justice despite a 2 hour running time.