'Independence Day: Resurgence' Review: The Humans Don't Break Much Of A Sweat


In the early moments in 1996’s Independence Day, as enormous shadows creep across the moonscape, a dreadful inevitability sets in. From the city-sized alien ships to the impenetrable shields and superior weaponry, mankind is more or less toast.

Independence Day: Resurgence is wracked with a different kind inevitability: the feeling that humans will once again defeat the aliens, this time without breaking much of a sweat.

In the twenty years since still-unnamed-for-some-reason aliens last visited Earth, all major cities have been rebuilt and everyone has decided to relax with the international warfare stuff, instead focusing their efforts on building an impenetrable global defense system using the alien Teal Goop Technology ®.

But for a civilization that’s spent two decades preparing to defend themselves against intergalactic attacks, everyone sure seems surprised when a bigger version of the old spaceships shows up — on July 4, no less! One would think the alien threat level would at least be orange on that day.

Our heroes, of which there are far too many, include most of the old gang and their offspring. Former President Bill Pullman is treated like a leper for some reason, as if he’s not allowed to have a little PTSD after several intimate alien encounters. Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as a glasses-wearing pattern-recognizer, though he’s estranged from his father for unexplained reasons.

The son of the deceased Steven Hiller is also a pilot, just like his way cooler dad. His mother Jasmine, the stripper who earned the respect of the First Lady, is now a nurse. She talks on the phone with her son for a minute and then he watches helplessly as she dies but it’s not really sad because we never see them interact in person. Hiller also has a pointless rivalry with one of the Hemsworths, which evaporates during the whole teaming-up-to-fight-the-aliens situation.

But the most perplexing character return is that of Dr. Brackish Okun, who inexplicably emerges from a coma with intimate knowledge of the aliens’ plan and a puzzling amount of authority for someone who’s been asleep for 20 years.

Apparently Dr. Okun survived this little ordeal.

Even if you ignore some of the character’s convoluted backstories, you’ll lose connection with them soon enough. As the 3,000-mile-wide alien spaceship rips entire countries from the ground only to drop them elsewhere on the globe, Goldblum and one of the Hemsworths sit idly amid the destruction, nonplussed.

When an alien wraps its tentacles around President Pullman’s neck and slams him against the large glass windows, the witnesses treat the situation more like a formality than the life-altering terror it should be. No one really seems scared or surprised by anything in this movie, audience included.

The fight almost seems too fair. The technology gap is nonexistent—in one scene, a character hops in an alien ship and exclaims, “Their technology hasn’t changed at all!” Okay, great, so what are we doing here then?

Perhaps humor can save this movie. Amid all the one-in-a-million moves pulled and eye-rolling scheming, certainly there are some funny one-liners and awkward moments to loosen the audience.

Sadly, that is not the case. The attempts are plenty, but none are memorable. Captain Hiller lacks the charm his father possessed, and since Goldblum and his father barely interact, the “doting Jewish parent” material falls flat with stranger children. One character, intended to provide some comic relief, is Goldblum’s wrong-place-wrong-time tax auditor. His act elicits no chuckles.

In the end, humanity prevails not because of some unstoppable patriotic mix of courage, ingenuity and will, but thanks to some wonky alliance with another race of aliens, smooth spherical robots that go around helping other civilizations defeat the bad aliens. It’s exactly as exciting as it sounds. |ES|

You should not see this movie. But if you must, please help me find out why Goldblum’s dad uses a flip phone to call Goldblum on his iPhone 6. That's the best we could do with all this alien technology? The same phones we got anyway? | Header image: ScreenRant