Man Seeking Movies: “Independence Day: Resurgence” is the sequel nobody wanted

Like its premise, this sequel is a human disaster.

By Jack Cronin | July 6, 2016

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Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day: Resurgence” is the unwanted sequel to his 1996 alien-invasion film.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone wanted to see the alternate universe that unfolded in the aftermath of the original, making Emmerich and 20th Century Fox’s decision to depict it an easy choice: go comical.

But “Resurgence” isn’t simply an unwanted sequel. It’s a recipe for how to make a bad one. Rather than telling its own story, Emmerich and his team of co-writers have created a movie that is a shameless continuation and recreation of the original.

Since 1996, the world’s leaders continue to commemorate and react to the extraterrestrial attacks, developing new defense systems and hosting anniversary celebrations.

However it’s not just the world’s leaders unable to move past these tragedies. Characters from the original are still recoiling from it, too.

Former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) limps around with a cane and experiences nightmares, seemingly suffering from PTSD. The bright-minded David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) has continued his research, exploring the wreckage of spaceships in central Africa. David’s father, Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch), is unsuccessfully promoting his book, titled “How I Saved The World.”

Even Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) and Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) are introduced and characterized almost exclusively as the children of President Whitmore and Captain Steven Hiller (played in the original by Will Smith).

These early scenes of characterization and world-building are painfully forced, acting as an unnecessary reminder that, yes, the first “Independence Day” did indeed happen.

What’s worse is that the plot is a thoughtless extension of the original. Rather than introducing new threats, the antagonists are the same aliens. In fact, the only difference is that they are now bigger and stronger than before.

Admittedly, the blatant sequelization of 1996’s sci-fi movie doesn’t automatically make “Resurgence” a terrible movie. After all, Marvel films are often better because of their role in a series.

Make no mistake, though: “Independence Day: Resurgence” is a very bad movie.

Each of its characters, both new and old, don’t seem to have personalities. Instead, they are simply faces attached to titles. Dylan Hiller is the new premier Air Force pilot; Patricia is the former president’s daughter and fiancee of Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth). Even the fresher faces are reduced to titles such as an African warlord and an alien-telepathy specialist.

There are so many characters awkwardly tossed into the mix that not a single character is able to develop or change throughout the movie. In fact, the young, rebellious pilot Jake Morrison is the only one with a real personality, and even he doesn’t have much of a character arc.

But the problems don’t stop with the myriad of uninteresting, underdeveloped characters. “Resurgence’s” writing and directing leave it a tonal nightmare.

Tragedy and human loss are often juxtaposed with bad, unfunny jokes. One moment a character cracks a joke; the next, they are mourning the loss of a loved one.

Likewise, the musical score consistently amps up the film’s adrenaline rather than reflecting the somber reality of its destruction.

The result is an awkward imbalance of light-hearted, melancholy and awe-inspiring tones, that are constantly conflicting.

Between the film’s issues with tone and its lackluster characters, it’s hard for viewers to invest themselves in the story. The losses of loved ones and the devastation of thousands of lives fail to evoke any grief or sadness. When “Resurgence’s” protagonists do succeed, it doesn’t inspire any satisfaction or relief.

“Independence Day: Resurgence” may have started as an unwanted sequel. But it ends as a downright unenjoyable film, that unfortunately offers more to come.

MOVE gives “Independence Day: Resurgence” 1 out of 5 stars.

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