Twenty years ago, a movie was released that would go on to create a whole new genre of action cinema – The “Blow-em-up!”. ‘Independence Day’ was released to incredible success in 1996, becoming the second highest grossing movie of all-time, behind ‘Jurassic Park’ (Jeff Goldblum appeared in the top 2 highest box office grossing movies of all time, a feat he still holds solely.). With Hollywood treasure Roland Emmerich at the helm, along with long-time movie partner Dean Devlin, ‘Independence Day’ was to become a new super power in the movie industry, leading to countless copycat and “Blow-em-up” movies through its twenty years of existence. With its wonderful mix of comedy, drama, science and spectacular action, ‘Independence Day’ remains ageless to this day, still staying at the top of it’s own created genre, and still as magnificent and exciting as ever.
Naturally, a sequel was always on the cards. Sadly, it never materialized until now. But boy, the twenty year wait was absolutely worth it. With Roland and Devlin back, and most of the cast intact (With the massive exception of Will Smith, one of the 3 original ID heroes. He passed on returning. His loss!), ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ has finally arrived.
Taking up twenty years after the first attack, “The War Of 1996”, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is now heading up an advanced team of scientists in an attempt to keep the deadly alien race at bay. Using alien technology discovered during the original attacks, not only have the team gained a new way of protecting the planet from many man-made threats, but American society has also taken massive leaps forward in security and living. But with a new found discovery that the alien attackers had sent a distress signal before their destruction, a signal that is sent twenty years later from a crashed ship which is suddenly reactivated, Levinson and the team are plunged into a terrifying nightmare, as they fight to save the Earth once again from the deadly other-worldly creatures who have answered their predecessor’s call and are intent on harvesting our planet’s power and bringing an end to mankind. With the son of original hero Captain Steven Hiller (Jessie Usher) and a cocky fighter pilot (Liam Hemsworth) joining the fight for survival, the world faces it’s annihilation once more, upon Independence Day.
With Bill Pullman returning as President Whitmore, along with Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner and Vivica A. Fox, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ feels like a family reunion. Seeing old comrades together again, taking the fight to a terrible foe, it warms the heart for fans of the original movie. As someone who has adored ‘Independence Day’ for decades, I waited so long for this sequel, and expected so much from it. And I was far from disappointed. Although missing Will Smith, somehow that doesn’t seem to matter, with Jeff Goldblum now taking center stage, and absolutely having the time of his life. David Levinson dishing out quips in the face of death hasn’t aged a bit in twenty years. And rousing speeches from President Whitmore still has the wonderful impact it had back then. While some of the new characters certainly feel far less fleshed out and uninteresting, such as Dylan and Jake (Usher and Hemsworth), it’s the old guys who make everything work. I even forgive the under using of people like Sela Ward (as the new POTUS), Maika Monroe and William Fichtner when I see Judd Hirsch on screen. The major flaw for me is the writing for these new characters, who felt like nothing more than a sideshow to the original cast. And with a shorter running time than the original, it certainly appears like there was some massive chunks of film left on the cutting room floor, which could have helped to give those characters more depth. With a little more time, and a little more delicacy, these new people could have had a chance to shine through more. Even the inclusion of Brent Spiner’s original beloved character from ‘Independence Day’ feels shoe-horned in here, although being very funny all the while. And there’s even characters from the original movie missing, without any reason given. It’s a little bit of a shame. Writers should never be afraid to take risks. Sadly, that’s the one area where the writing fails a little for me, it’s all a little hasty, even with Bill Pullman’s return. Here’s hoping there will be an extended edition on Blu-ray/ DVD for Christmas.
But as with the original movie, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is created with the intention of thrilling its audiences. And for me personally, the spectacle this time around feels far greater than even the classic first movie. The action scenes are glorious, with scenes of mass destruction and alien dogfights that truly outdo what the original has to offer, thanks to both the movie’s story line of new technology, and the technical advances in Hollywood from over twenty years. The finale is especially a massive highlight. A wonderful scene. The special effects are incredible, in both the action scenes and the dazzling visuals on offer through the 2 hour running time. With a massive budget of $200 million, every cent can be seen constantly on screen. Big, bold and incomparable, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ never fails to deliver on its promise of excitement and spectacular visual effects, with Roland Emmerich rising to the challenge of following up his classic movie with something even bigger and grander. He genuinely delivers the goods here, returning to his love of Hollywood carnage. The man is simply one of the best action film makers of all time. This movie is proof.
‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is flawed, both in parts of its writing and its pace, but those flaws are overshadowed by the sheer brilliance of the knockout action, thrills and fun that you will witness here. And as I’ve always been a cup half full kinda guy, I’ll take any flaws once I’m given what I’ve been promised. And I got that here. Forget the negative critics, they were always going to savage this movie, no matter what it had to offer. In this case, you’d be better off listening to a loyal fan of the original movie, people like me, people who demanded a lot of both the cast and crew, and the movie itself. And as one of those fans, I absolutely loved this movie, from start to finish. People like Zach Snyder may fail to deliver on a movie featuring Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, but give Roland Emmerich aliens, spaceships and Jeff Goldblum, and he’ll give you F.U.N. This is a real big screen event, the first blockbuster of summer 2016, let no one put you off experiencing it at your local cinema.