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Independence Day: Resurgence – Joint Review


Release Date: 24 June 2016 [USA]
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Nicolas Wright - James A. Woods - Dean Devlin - Roland Emmerich - [Screenplay & Story] - James Vanderbilt - [Screenplay] - Dean Devlin - Roland emmerich [Characters]
Cast: Liam Hemsworth - Jeff Goldblum - Bill Pullman - Jessie T. Usher

Posted June 28, 2016 by

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Independence Day: Resurgence – Joint Review

Michael’s Perspective:

It’s been 20 years since the War of ’96 and Planet Earth has undergone some remarkable changes. Alien tech has been reversed engineered to grant us anti-grav vehicles and casual space flight. The world and all her people have seemingly been at peace and nations prepare for victory’s 20th anniversary.

But, David Levinson, Director of Earth Space Defence, is picking up on some strange goings on. Catatonic alien POW’s have woken madly. People across the planet are plagued with strange visions. Something’s coming.

Independence Day Resurgence begins promisingly. Former President Whitmore is mentally unstable. We learn of a frightening land war between stranded aliens and African soldiers. Area 51 hosts a max-security alien prison. These dark turns and intriguing concepts disappear faster than Roland Emmerich’s victim cities.

In space, everything goes to shit, where the movie feels less connected to the original and more like bad fan-fiction. There are several secondary characters whose jobs are to fail at comic relief and be unbearably irritating. Most bafflingly is Judd Hirsch’s Levinson Snr. There is an insistent silliness, one of the factors that completely ruin this movie.

Jeff Goldblum has bugger all to do for most of the runtime and one of your parting images of him will be driving away from a massive computer-generated joke in a school bus filled with screaming kids while he makes Mr. Bean faces. Bill Pullman plays a long-declined shadow of President Whitmore, perhaps a walking metaphor for this movie. No matter the disaster, Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher remain pretty throughout and pretty wooden too. Among the movie’s biggest frustrations is every character’s lack of reaction to everything happening. Where’s the despair? This is meant to be a sequel to one of the greatest ever disaster movies! The only performances showing any signs of life were from Maika Monroe and Brent Spiner.

1996’s Independence Day is a modern classic. The movie’s establishing chapters are excellent. The FX is still haunting to this day. There was real charisma and character. All of this is absent from Resurgence. The story is a chaotic mess. An entire Asian city is ripped up by artificial gravity and dropped on top of London. The destruction must have been apocalyptic. You would have to assume because you don’t see much of it. Instead of a fleet of city-size ships, this time we have one ship; one ship 3,000 miles wide. Perhaps this is another metaphor. Bigger and more vacuous.

Independence Day: Resurgence does one thing well. The original looks even better now. Everything that made the first movie great has been abandoned and the empty spaces haven’t been filled. To go over the plot holes would require giving them their own article. This movie is lousy.

Written by:


Michael Keyes
Silences Band
Full Contributor


Larry’s Perspective:

When I sat recently at a round table of film journalists interviewing director Todd Solondz, someone asked him whether bringing back Dawn Wiener from ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ in his new film ‘Wiener Dog’ was trashing his legacy. Mr Solondz didn’t understand the question because, as anyone who has seen ‘Happiness’ and ‘Life During Wartime’ will tell you, he has a habit of bringing his characters back played by different actors. Someone might ask Roland Emmerich the same question about ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’, a belated sequel to his 1996 blockbuster ‘Independence Day’ with less than 1% of the visceral impact of the original. ‘ID:R’ as you might call it (the original was dubbed ‘ID:4’) is more of the same except that it deals both metaphorically and literally with homosexuality – just in time for the Pride march in London. It is not a blockbuster as we know it, but something different.

When Earth is threatened by the sudden appearance of an orb, which looks for my money like the Geffen Pictures logo, a female President (Sela Ward) orders its immediate destruction – she’s not taking any chances. As we discover, the orb comes in peace to warn Earth of the impending return of the original alien menace that drains planets of their molten core, thus destroying their gravitational pull. I’m quoting movie science here – I’m sure the actual result is far worse.

David Geffen is a famously gay music and movie mogul who has paid $100 million to replace Avery Fisher Hall with his own name. This coincidentally is a storyline in the HBO series ‘Billions’. Emmerich’s last film was ‘Stonewall’, a poorly received film about the New York Stonewall Riots in 1969, which put a fictional character, Danny (Jeremy Irvine) at the centre of the story. Emmerich puts an openly gay couple (played by Brent Spiner and John Storey) front and center and the film’s only nudity – possibly a first for an Emmerich blockbuster – is Spiner’s bottom. It is worth noting that Emmerich was one of the directors to hire an actor, Jaye Davidson, famous for playing a transgender character, and put him at the centre of a blockbuster, ‘Stargate’. However awkwardly Emmerich’s films articulate homosexuality, it is clear where his sympathies lie.

So ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ can be read as a subversive science fantasy blockbuster in which fear of the orb (voiced by Jenna Purdy) is replaced by acceptance and finally as a partner in an ongoing struggle against a greater enemy, one which feeds on the red stuff (lava), which one might interpret as hate.

With this kind of messaging, it is no wonder that ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ has under-performed at the box office. As it turns out, it just doesn’t have the visual whammy moments of the original. We’ve seen London get trashed on screen recently in ‘London Has Fallen’, so the fall of Big Ben and the London Eye doesn’t have the impact Emmerich might have intended – although quite possibly he is going through the motions.

Indeed, directors like Michael Bay, Matt Reeves and Joss Whedon has raised the bar for the destruction of civilization – or signifiers of it. So Emmerich needs something else, perhaps an articulation of what happens when nations that have known peace for twenty years and worked together suddenly start to disagree.

This is the other interesting aspect of the film, which effaces any image of a Middle Eastern or South Asian character (no Arabs or Indians here). In this counter narrative, there is no alternate religious or ideological contest. This omission further removes the film from our reality but is indicative of a film that uses shortcuts to reach a happy ending. An ex-President (Bill Pullman) plagued by visions comes out of retirement and symbolically shaves off his beard, rolling back the years. A couple of competing pilots (Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T Usher) learn to work together. Even the former President’s daughter (Maika Monroe) takes to the sky. When a world leader is killed, no one even blinks.

Nominally, it is the scientists, represented by Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson, who are the heroes, establishing (for convenience’s sake) that there is a Queen alien, because there is always a Queen alien (see the ‘Alien’ series). Like Pullman and Spiner, Goldblum has returned for the sequel, but there is a Will Smith shaped hole where a charismatic hero should be.

The action sequences and denouement have a feeling of déjà vu and ‘so what’. Triumphalism is hollow. The film is better at a comedy subplot in which Levinson’s father (Judd Hirsch) leads a group of children to Area 51 – it’s sort of biblical, though not in the ‘2012’ league. I quite liked the African freedom fighter (Gbenga Akinnagbe) who tags along for the ride back to America in a futuristic vehicle – a fusion of alien and human technology – who succeeded by stabbing aliens in the back. ‘You have the heart of a warrior,’ he tells one nerdy character. At these moments, Emmerich plays to the sci-fi demographic, but we can see through him. I suspect his heart isn’t really into mass destruction of property any more.

Written by:

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 15.56.21

Larry Oliver
Full Contributor


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One Comment


    No colnamipts on this end, simply a good piece.

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