The summer movie season is one that is famous for its larger-than-life blockbusters. Audiences oftentimes will spend their money on visual effects-driven films that offer a few hours of mindless chaos. With the market being more and more competitive, studios attempt to gravitate towards any known property when releasing a high-budgeted affair.
“Independence Day: Resurgence” is the latest in a series of sequels to relatively older films. This year alone we’ve had “Finding Dory,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” and “Zoolander 2” coming out over a decade after the original. Whether the intentions are cynical or not, this formula has worked with some success, but also a few noticeable flops.
I still love me some Blue Steel.
Taking place twenty years after the original, the aliens are back, and the threat is bigger than ever. Even with the enhancements of alien technology, the people of Earth must band together to save humanity. If this sounds like a carbon copy of the original, well, because it is. “Independence Day: Resurgence” is just as big, loud, and dumb as the original, proving itself to be yet another blockbuster that is over-stuffed and under-delivered.
Now the film is not devoid of some entertainment value. Veteran actors like Jeff Goldblum and Brent Spiner are able to work well with the shlocky material, understanding the tone and having a fun time throughout. Their light-hearted energy is infectious, and their quips are oftentimes quite clever.
Otherwise, the film often times falls in the “so bad, it's good” categorization of movies, in which the ineptitude of the movie creates numerous laughs. Whether it was moments of bad acting or just too ridiculous to believe action set pieces, I enjoyed quite a few hearty laughs at the movie’s expense.
“Independence Day: Resurgence” is far from a good movie, usually plagued by it lack of precision and brains. Director Roland Emmerich brings his signature style here, which includes heavy-handed dramatic moments, cliched writing, and an over-stuffed narrative. While this formula has led to many box office hits, it's resulted in very few actually well made film (2013’s “White House Down” being the lone exception in my book).
It's never a good sign when a film has five credited writers on the final project, and the final product feels that level of disjointedness. The narrative never reaches a level of flow or coherence, just kind of meandering from scene to scene. Part of the problem is that there are just too many subplots present, with none of them getting the proper screen time to develop or add depth to the story. Throughout the film, I was never drawn to any of the characters or their dire situations, making it hard to frankly care about the film itself.
The new additions to the cast are a noticeable weak point, with none of the actors having the charisma as the veteran cast. While the trio are not helped by the corny dialogue, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, and Maika Monroe struggle mightily in their roles. Their acting frequently feels incredibly stiff, as they were unable to interject much emotion or personality in their respective roles. In comparison to Will Smith’s star-making role in the original, the lack of charisma is very much present.
I think everyone would have preferred his older brother.
This is sadly not the first, nor will it be the last, blockbuster this summer that substitutes the promise of more stuff instead of actual quality. The blockbuster marketplace has gotten incredibly crowded, with each film vying to stand out in anyway possible. Most of the time, studios approach this by marketing bigger action and more characters.
In reality, studios should just learn to simply make a good movie. While that doesn’t always make a box office success, an actual quality film in combination with sound marketing is the perfect formula. It’s not a surprise that the four best performing films of the year are also four of the best reviewed movies of the year (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Jungle Book,” “Zootopia,” and “Deadpool”).
“Independence Day: Resurgence” fails to revive a brand that was a staple twenty years ago. Unlike back in 1996, the bar is getting higher and higher for blockbusters, with it taking more than a few eye-popping effects to draw in crowds. While it has a few fun moments, this is the latest blockbuster to wrongly favor excess over quality.