They had twenty years to prepare and what did they create? Another movie apocalypse directed by Roland Emmerich, and a ludicrous attempt to make a sequel of his 1996 blockbuster hit Independence Day. It feels like a copy of the formulaic blockbuster movies we have watched a billion times before. Emmerich was not able to recreate the charm of the previous film. It seems he wanted so badly to achieve the success of the first movie that he completely lost sight of why the first one had become such a knockout.
If you’d like to stay on good terms with this movie, you should avoid having too close a look at its characters. To be clear, the fictional characters seem to have been thrown into the script completely at random. Apparently, it wasn’t enough to keep most of the first movie’s characters, but the producers had to introduce several new ones whose appearances are altogether uncalled for by the plot. As a matter of fact, I venture to say that most of them function either to provide comic relief or to bring about one of Hollywood’s most worn-out clichés. This imbalance is more than unfortunate because it deprives the few ‘real’ characters of the opportunity to exert any significant effect upon the audience. Thank God Will Smith did not let himself be dragged into this mess!
Twenty years earlier, in the first prequel, the heroes Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Will Smith saved the world from the alien invasion. Some of the actors returned for the sequel, Will Smith, who played the previous film hero pilot Steven Hiller, was not hired again. He died in a training mission between both films –and is missed noticeably in Resurgence. But to be honest, there would be no qualitative difference, even if Smith were in the cast. The meanwhile grey-haired scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), the former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), baffled by the trauma of 1996, and Dr. Brakish Okrum (Brent Spiner), awakes after a 20-year coma, are fighting against the aliens once more. In addition to that there is a bunch of new characters, most of them are the children of the first film’s heroes, including Hillers son Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) or Withmores daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe replaces Mae Whitman). Liam Hemsworth plays a rebellious pilot named Jake Morrington and is not related to anyone of the first movie characters.
Emmerich specializes in showing devastating catastrophes on Earth with several freak waves and flying sights (like the Petronas Towers falling onto London right next to London Eye, ironically commented on by Jeff Goldbum with ‘They like destroying signs’ ). No matter whether they’re caused by climate change (‘The Day After Tomorrow’), solar flares (‘2012’) or invasions by aliens (‘Independence Day’ – 1996), all carry his thumbprint of action-packed popcorn entertainment.
Twenty years have elapsed since his second 3D alien ship burst through the aerosphere, leaving a trace of rubble. A budget twice as much as his forerunner allows Emmerich to reach deep into his trick box. Most of the movies ‘big impressive scenes’ shine with a terrifically bad use of CGI, though. At several moments, it’s just way too many effects that cannot properly transfer the action to the viewer, it’s rather the chaos of animating that transfers the chaos of the film. The Emmerich-movie-fans and easily-to-be-amazed people will still be astonished by the overwhelming devastation the alien ship causes.
Working with bright colours and an illuminated scene gives the impression of a peaceful world. Only the background of the President’s speech seems a little bit artificial (probably due to much lightening of the sky) and reminds of old King Kong movies. The catacombs of the moon base or the alien ship are in contrast very dark. It’s obvious that bright colours wouldn’t fit in a war between aliens and humans but a little light in Area51 would have been a treat for the eyes.
The mothership of the aliens is back, too, much bigger than the last time – 3,000 miles in diameter!; but with its own eco-system controlled by a Godzilla-sized queen bee. And once they show up they immediately start destroying the earth and killing people. But does a 3,000-mile-long spaceship not cause fluctuations in our orbit?
Go and check it out yourself, but don’t lean back too much as it won’t knock your socks off.