Independence Day: Resurgence – Double the destruction, half the charm.

In Independence Day Resurgence, there is a scene where Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth are escaping a shower of falling buildings, planes and ships (don’t ask) in a plane where Jeff Goldblum announces nervously “Err… they like to get the landmarks”, seconds before we see the London Bridge destroyed like a poorly made sand castle.

In that scene, I suspect he wasn’t talking about the aliens out to destroy the world. He was talking about the film makers, especially director Roland Emmerich who obliterated the Empire State Building in ‘Independence Day‘, destroyed the Brooklyn bridge and half of Manhattan in ‘Godzilla‘, flooded and froze the Statue of Liberty in ‘Day After Tomorrow‘ and sank pretty much everything else in ‘2012‘. 

Having run out of ways to destroy the world, he returns with his old alien friends in ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’.

The premise is very promising. Just because you beat an alien race once, doesn’t mean they can’t try to come back at you, better prepared. If we did survive an alien invasion, how would the world rebuild itself? How would we prep for the inevitable retaliation?

Sadly, the movie doesn’t even scratch the surface of these complications.

I know that most people are not going to see a disaster movie expecting a class on character building and questions of philosophical complexity. You want things to start crashing and exploding quickly.

But Marvel has taught us that it is possible to do both! Since Roland Emmerich is already planning a sequel, it couldn’t have hurt to give this movie some more “gravitas”.

For its time, the first Independence Day had unprecedented special effects and the shocking premise of world destruction in a matter of hours. But the biggest reason why it worked was the oodles of charm from its leads (Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman), that made the harebrained plot fun and believable.

Independance Day: Resurgence raises the bar again in special effects. It is a text-book summer blockbuster where you enjoy the spectacle of the world blowing up in front of your eyes with a big bag of popcorn.

But it severely lacks the charm of it’s prequel. Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe make for a very good looking cast. But they just don’t have the same screen presence and the movie suffers for it.

You don’t root for these characters or feel for them. The blame for this must also be shared by the writers and director.

Some of the best moments in the film still belong to the returning cast of the previous film, even when they are handicapped by smaller roles meant to blend in the background.

I wish Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum had more to do in the movie. I wish they had more scenes together. Above all, I wish this movie had Will Smith in it! But it wasn’t to be.

Independence Day 5

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I am biased towards disaster movies. Independence day was one of the biggest blockbusters of my childhood and probably the best disaster movie up until that time.

So I knew that I would love the ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ even before I entered the hall.

If you sense a tone of disappointment in this review, it’s because the movie just doesn’t explore its full potential. It fails to create the necessary drama to make you grip your chair and help maneuver the fighter jets yourself, or, invest in any of the new characters and care about their journey in the inevitable sequel.

I still enjoyed watching Independence Day: Resurgence for all things we have come to expect from Roland Emmerich.

Terrific special effects of world demolition, cheesy but fun speeches right before the world fights back, cheering in radio tents…even the mild racial undertones of the entire third world sitting in front of recognizable monuments and buildings, waiting to be rescued by the United States of America, celebrating it’s Independence Day!!

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