"We had twenty years to prepare" proclaims the poster for Independence Day: Resurgence. It's a smart marketing tactic, not only providing justification for the two-decade gap between the original and the sequel, but also creating the illusion that Roland Emmerich has been slaving away developing the film ever since the original near-classic hit back in 1996.
To be fair to the director, that is kinda true - the idea of a sequel kept coming up in the years after initial release until the ball finally got rolling on what was then called IDForever at the start of the decade, which languished in development while specifics (cast, story, number of films) were ironed out - but hardly emblematic of any care and attention given to the film; as released, Resurgence feels like it was thrown together in the space of month, with a script made-up on set and visuals farmed out to first-time effects artists. You can hardly blame Will Smith for not returning.
Resurgence is the movie detractors dismiss the first one as - a thudding, empty bore with ineffectual action beats that can't distract from the alternatively dumb and self-important plot, oddly shoddy effects and a perplexing approach to homage (one new alien here looks so like a xenomorph you'll swear its plagiarism). Importantly, it's not fun. It's also one of the worst examples of modern blockbuster cinema. Yes, worse than the long parade of cack 2016 has brought us thus far.
Brace yourself and let's take a deeper look, shall we?
8. It’s Not A Total Repeat, But Just Squashes Any New Idea
Independence Day: Resurgence is the latest in a long line of sequels that double as stealth redos of the original – Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Creed – retreading the same basic story beats and moments in iconography in a bid to create something welcomingly nostalgic. This can be a highly hit-and-miss approach, and sadly Independence Day falls firmly in the latter camp; for all the changes made to the status quo, Resurgence winds up feeling disappointingly familiar. Although what's most problematic isn't that it's the same, but that it's the same in favour of exploring some genuinely interesting new ideas.
That's right - there's actually a lot of exciting concepts introduced in the film, it's just that Emmerich doesn't seem all that interested in them: the alt future setting where we've used alien tech to advance our globalised society; the kids of the original all grown-up; an international gold-hunting team made the most important men at sea; a group of teens trekking aimlessly across America; and, most intriguingly, a whole new side to the alien conflict.
Some of these are strong enough to form the basis of a whole new movie, but they're dealt with so briefly they each wind up as a half-baked waste and thus all that's memorable about the film is the bits it repeats. And the movie really shouldn't want to remind you of the original, because it does just about everything else worse...