Earlier this summer, a sequel hit theaters supposedly 20 years in the making. Independence Day: Resurgence appeared, on the surface, to be a near carbon copy of the 1996 original with a few new characters and plot points. Roland Emmerich, the “master” of disaster films, took the script from writers Nicolas Wright and James A. Woods (and others) and made a two hour, sci-fi, special effects extravaganza – and not in a good way.
I think I liked this film better when it was just called Independence Day. Of course, that’s not saying much. This time around, some returning cast members play out their characters in much of the same fashion as the original. Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Judd Hirsch return as David Levinson, ex-President Whitmore, and Julius Levinson, respectively. Another returning character Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) received a few laughs from his minor part, but overall it wasn’t noteworthy. Newcomers Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher and Liam Hemsworth offer up decent performances as the former president’s daughter Patricia Whitmore, Dylan Hiller (the son of Will Smith’s deceased character, and Jake Morrison (a hotshot pilot), respectively.
The problem with this film is that there are similarities with the events in the first film. The dialogue is one of those problems. While it may suit your average summer popcorn flick, it does little to tell a new engaging story to capture audiences. I suppose that is why Emmerich relies on special effects and CGI. I would say if his intention was to deliver a film with a heavy dose of special effects, explosions, and spaceship battles – with very little substance otherwise – then I would say a job well done. But shouldn’t there be more than that? I read in an article, shortly after this film was released, that Emmerich had a problem with the superhero movies these days. He claimed they “stole” his “ideas” and uses of world destruction in those films. Really? I wasn’t aware you could claim property on the concept of world destruction. Besides, the Marvel films do it so much better than Emmerich,because he doesn’t seem to bother about things like plot, story, and character in his disaster films.
There appears to be a notion that the bigger something is, the better it is. That is not the case in everything. It is certainly not the case with Roland Emmerich. It seems when he makes these big blockbusters, these disaster films, he fails on telling a story with substance and depends greatly on special effects, explosions, and anything else he can find to go boom as in films like 2012 (2009), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), and 1998’s failed Godzilla. However, in films like The Patriot (2000) and White House Down (2013), Emmerich does bring substance and story to the screen. Those films are few and far between from Emmerich. And he has stated he wants to make a third Independence Day film. Only time will tell if that will happen. If it does, it just better not be another 20 years.