Directed by Roland Emmerich
Fox, out now (UK)
They’re back – and bigger than ever before…
In an age of 140-150 minute blockbusters, the 120 minute Independence Day: Resurgence doesn’t outstay its welcome, and most importantly, doesn’t allow any of its set pieces to go on too long within that. It’s very much the mixture as before, turned up a notch – think of the differences between John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. in terms of scale, and you’ll get an idea of the escalation involved. The dialogue is as risible as you might expect in places and the infodumps in the first 25 minutes or so are certainly clumsier than they needed to be – but let’s be perfectly honest. You’re not going to an Independence Day sequel for the Shakespearean dialogue, characterisation or subtlety: you’re going to see aliens blowing human shit up and then vice versa. And that it’s got in plenty.
There’s as much pseudo-science going on in this one as in its predecessor – the aliens appear to have taken lessons from the Daleks in their motivation – and as many nonsensical escapes as the first film (yes, there is one involving a dog). Many of the key characters from that movie reappear (although absolutely no mention at all of one major player) with Will Smith’s Steven Hiller very much an important part of the backstory; some you may wonder why the actors bothered being involved (their characters’ importance could as easily have been achieved in reported speech!), others have their own plot tacked on to the side.
Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Brent Spiner are front and centre throughout and do their best to make all the CGI stuff going around them seem credible; Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, Jessie Usher, Travis Tope and Angelbaby are the younger generation of new heroes, none of whom get a huge amount of characterisation beyond the broad strokes necessary for the plot – likewise Charlotte Gainsbourg, whose Catherine Marceaux feels as if she was far more important in earlier iterations of the script but is left with little to do but react now. William Fichtner does his best to make General Adams a rounded figure, but he’s given precious little to work with – we learn far more about the man from the comics prequel than this.
In terms of the storyline, Emmerich seems to have taken inspiration from James Cameron’s Aliens, blended with more than a little bit of Starship Troopers (in fact, in a twisted way, you could almost see the ID4 films as a prequel to that!), and visual inspiration from The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy movie. There’s obviously been quite a lot of thought given to worldbuilding along the way (as the various online sequences show – hopefully they’ll be on the Blu-ray), and a moderately coherent history devised for the 20 years between films.
But does it do what it says on the tin? Yes, absolutely.
Verdict: If you thought the first film was two hours of pointless explosions etc. then avoid this; if you enjoyed the first movie, you’ll get a kick from this – and be surprised on a couple of occasions. 7/10