I really loved the original “Independence Day.” Not that it was grand cinema, but it had action, aliens, snarky one-liners, star power and the world was saved by a slack-jawed yokel bent on revenge. The CGI was solid, Will Smith and Bill Pullman suited their roles. Jeff Goldblum was nerdy and tekkie in the right ways, Margaret Colin was a great part of the cast that helped move the plot forward and Roland Emmerich directed the film without too much fuss. But that was 1996, the sequel “Independence Day: Resurgence” is a bloated mess. The aliens are back, but this time the ship is bigger, so that implies the danger level is higher. It just doesn’t feel that way. There is not much to get emotionally invested in, or interesting to watch.
In the plus column, there is Sela Ward as President Lanford, in the minus column is Bill Pullman as Gabby Hayes, or the former president from the original film. The first thing I noticed was the lack of a coherent script. There’s something about an Earth Defense Shield, which I can only imagine is the realization of Former President Reagan’s “Star Wars” defense with moons and planets securing the Earth from invasion from the tentacled bad guys, should they return. No surprise, they do. There comedy is rather lowbrow, seeing someone urinate on an alien ship while flying the middle finger is supposed to make an audience laugh? Okay, maybe if the audience is collectively 12 years-old. There is also the fact that the acting seems phoned in. Liam Hemsworth may be a decent actor, but not here. Vivica Fox looks lost. Judd Hirsch is wasted in his reprised role.
One of the things that made the original enjoyable was the casting of Brent Spiner as a crazed scientist Dr. Brakish Okun and Adam Baldwin as the gun-toting solution to the first alien captive. “Resurgence” has Spiner but does not get the mileage out of him they could have and has no Baldwin. As a side note, Baldwin and the rest of the cast of “Firefly” could take 1/10th of the budget of this sci-fi epic and make an actual quality sequel. Production for “Resurgence” was briefly halted while the producers had to scare up more funds to complete the film. In a perfect universe, “Firefly” would still be on the air, Joss Whedon would be at the helm of both the t.v. show and semi-annual films, and “Independence Day: Resurgence” would be a confused script sitting on a desk somewhere in Hollywood, never being made into the hideous waste that is on screens nationwide. A sequel is already announced. God help us all, the aliens may actually figure out how to exterminate Earthlings next time. Or perhaps just kill Sci-fi movies for the next generation.