You should know the following truth: I think the original Independence Day was a fun goofy ride and a terrific summer movie. I re-watched it the day before I saw this sequel, which is not at all necessary to enjoy this one, but I think the reminder can add a little something special. That said, I think Resurgence is a fun goofy ride and a terrific summer movie with really great effects and a lot of different battle fronts to get excited about. ID4 was an effects-driven blockbuster back when pretty much only Spielberg had the money to really nail GI action; today this movie looks pretty dang sweet.
It’s 20 years later, and the world is vastly better off, benefiting from the leftover tech from when we beat the baddies last time. Thanks to some psychic quantum entanglement (not explicitly called out, but that’s what it is), our heroes from 1996 are sort of in tune with the aliens return (and/or seriously damaged). Yep, the aliens are back and ready to kick our butts after last time.
This is a classic “rock out with your glock out” kind of action movie, with a little more attention to strategy and ensemble and a little less silly bravado (Will Smith’s character died a hero). Almost everyone from ID4 returns to help the latest president (Sela Ward), former president Whitmore’s daughter (Maika Monroe) and her flight buddies Jesse T. Usher and Liam Hemsworth fight the baddies.
It’s fun to see our alternate future where we have integrated the leftover alien technology into modern life, and the positive repercussions of that. It skims over how some societies were left holding the ground war bag and others basked in privilege and advantage because of their proximity to the original heroes. It also handily sets up a pretty easy sequel which we had already half written before we got home. (Devlin, Emmerich, the ideas are yours for the price of one fan encounter with Jeff Goldblum!)
Following the Jurassic World model of “If it works, keep it!” Independence Day: Resurgence balances nostalgia with butt-kicking pretty well. Bill Pullman gets to make another stirring speech and handsome hot dog pilots get to do big exciting dog fights that actually stay exciting. Little sprinkles of homage to characters and events from the previous movie ground this sequel in reality, as well as make you giggle. “They like to get the landmarks.” I was actually worried at times that things would not turn out OK, which, in a movie designed to be a foregone conclusion, is a bonus, and made stakes high enough to be enjoyable.
Usher, Hemsworth, and Monroe are a charming new trio of heroes, and our old friends Judd Hirsch, Jeff Goldblum, Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, and Brent Spiner get to have some fun too. Yes, they explain Brent Spiner! Robert Loggia gets one last cameo as General Grey, which was sweet. Throw in a random busload of children and a dog and you’re good to go!
If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy it. If you just like things that go boom, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re worried about physics, aeronautics, tectonic forces, or relativity, you will be annoyed, but you might still enjoy it. My companions and I enjoyed it, and that’s all we asked. Have a ball.
Independence Day: Resurgence
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release date: 6/24/16
Time in minutes: 120
Director: Roland Emmerich
Studio: 20th Century Fox