Watching Independence Day: Resurgence, one can’t help but think that if this is the best that humankind has to offer, then the aliens would be doing the universe a solid by exterminating us.
I admit, the original movie had its appeal, a goofy, over-the-top, cheese-covered heart, which is sorely lacking in the sequel. Sure, Independence Day was populate with archetypes, but none were so painfully cliche as in Independence Day: Resurgence.
Interjecting new blood into the franchise is Liam Hemsworth in the role of cocky, reckless pilot who will save the day, but is tormented by past fuck-ups, all self-induced, of course. Let’s call him Top Gun, because who the hell cares what the character’s real name is? The obligatory comic relief is provided by Top Gun’s Sidekick, who’s there to leer at Exotic Asian Girl. Top Gun’s love interest is Generically Pretty White Girl, a former ace pilot and coincidentally the daughter of ex-president WhatHisName, from the first movie. The plot is all about coincidences. It’s built on a teetering Jenga tower of coincidence. Top Gun’s rival is a former friend who is aggrieved by whatever it is that Top Gun FUBARed in the past. Once upon a time, Top Gun, Rival, and Generically Pretty White Girl were a best friendsies threesome. But, no more. The instant Top Gun and Rival reconnect, on the moon base, Rival punches Top Gun. Which is the extent of their testosterone-fueled angst.
If this sounds like the plot of an anime, well, it should be. If preternaturally young and beautiful people saving humankind from monsters is your shtick, however, you’d do better with Attack on Titan or old school anime like Macross/Robotech.
In earnest, the movie might have been okay if it had actually been a reboot with a new generation. But no…instead, in the interest of nostalgia, it exhumed the rotting careers of the original film’s stars and flung them in tottering zombied pathos on the screen.
First we have Jeff Golblum’s Science Guy, who does his thing as the wise one making frowny faces at all the unscienced fools. Also resurrected is Judd Hirsch’s Grumpy Jewish Dad. Bill Pullman returns as president WhatHisName, this time conveniently cray-zee and sporting Jon Stewart’s scruffy beard. (Convenient because the crazy only lasts until he needs to sane-up, and end himself, like Randy Quaid, in the belly of the beast.) Brent Spiner is back as the Lab Guy who–what did he do in the first film anyway? Whatever. Sorry Brent, but you’ll always be Star Trek’s Data to me. Will Smith, however, is absent, having decided he’s fulfilled his quota of awful SF movies (After Earth, hmmm?).
The story is strung together by a series of useless plot points, coincidence, and chewing gum. Grumpy Jewish Dad, for example, is tasked with introducing and chauffeuring a busload of un-adorable moppets directly into the line of fire. In order to make the kids cuter, wardrobe outfitted them with knitted, rabbit-eared caps. The result looks like a herd of low-rent furries in search of a convention. Meanwhile, there’s the intermittent appearance of pirates whose purpose is to tell us that the aliens are drilling a hole in the Earth. The crew of the S.S. Golddigger is so generic that they don’t even reach the level of archetype.
The humor, what little there is of it, is of the same adolescent cut as the Transformers franchise. Witness Hemsworth’s Top Gun taunting a couple of aliens by taking a piss in their ship. The aliens stare at him blankly, as if to say, “Dude, put your pecker away. We’re just the accountants.” The best moment is when Goldbum’s Science Guy observes, as London’s Tower Bridge is destroyed, that, “They always go for the landmarks.”
The upside to all this hot mess? Any aliens watching a broadcast of Independence Day: Resurgence will be assured that there’s no intelligent life on Earth and pass us by.