Oh, who cares?
Sorry, I know that’s like an ultra unprofessional way to open a review but Independence Day: Resurgence is one of the least inspiring films that I’ve ever seen. Jeff and I saw it the day that it opened and, at the time, I was planning on reviewing it the next day. But when I sat down to actually write about the movie … well, I discovered that I could hardly care less. This is one of those films that I could have easily waited until December to review. However, seeing as today is Independence Day, this seemed to be the right time to say something about it.
Memorable movies inspire. Good movies inspire love. Bad movies inspire hate. A movie like Independence Day: Resurgence inspires apathy.
Actually, what’s really frustrating about Independence Day: Resurgence is that it starts out with such promise. The first few scenes suggest that maybe the film is trying to be something more than just another “let’s blow shit up while stars get quippy” action film. Independence Day: Resurgence imagines an alternative history for post-alien invasion Earth and it’s actually pretty clever. Earthlings have taken advantage of the alien technology but society has also become heavily militaristic. The main characters of the first film are all revered as heroes but, when we first meet former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman, with a wise old man beard), he’s having nightmares about the invasion.
And seriously, for the first 30 minutes or so, I really thought that Independence Day: Resurgence might turn out to be surprisingly clever, that maybe it would satirize the excesses of the original while subtly critiquing everything that’s fucked up about our real world.
Well, that was a mistake on my part. There is no satire. There is no critique. Instead, it’s just another alien invasion film and it’s all terribly predictable. It may be a sequel to the first Independence Day but it feels more like a rip-off of Battle: Los Angeles. Considering what the film could have been, it’s impossible not to be disappointed by how familiar and uninspired it all is.
What I failed to take into account is that this film was directed by Roland Emmerich. Emmerich is a director who is best distinguished by his total lack of self-awareness. After all, this is the director who, in Anonymous, seriously suggested that William Shakespeare personally murdered Christopher Marlowe. Watching Independence Day: Resurgence and listening to the generic dialogue and witnessing the generic mayhem, I started to get the sinking feeling that the film was a joke and that Emmerich was the only person on the planet who was not in on it. He doesn’t realize how predictable his movies are or that his characters are cardboard cut-outs or that the film’s inspiring moments are so overdone that they instead become groan-inducing. One of the stars of the first film sacrifices himself in Resurgence and you know who it’s going to be from the minute he shows up onscreen. Emmerich is not a good enough director to make his sacrifice touching. The fact that the film ends with the promise of a sequel is not surprising and yet, it still somehow manages to be annoyingly presumptive. The film’s ending seems to be taunting us. “Of course, you’re going to want to sit through this shit for a third time…what other choice do you have?”
In the film’s defense, the cast is big and it includes a lot of good actors. Unfortunately, the characters are so undeveloped that you again find yourself regretting what a waste it all is. Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch are both likable but Bill Pullman seems to be incredibly bored with the whole thing. Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, and Maika Monroe are all stuck playing typical Emmerich ciphers.
I should mention that, despite how negative this review may sound, I did not hate Independence Day: Resurgence, at least not in the way that I’ve hated other films, like Anonymous or the remake of Straw Dogs. My problem with Resurgence isn’t that I hated it or even that I disliked it. It’s that I didn’t feel much about it, one way or the other. It’s one of those film that is best described as “just kinda being there.” Apathy is the worst thing that a film can inspire.
Perhaps the best thing about Independence Day: Resurgence is that Roland Emmerich has protected the holiday from being co-opted by Garry Marshall.