“Independence Day — Resurgence” is the sequel no one really wanted.
For director Roland Emmerich, who helmed the original “Independence Day” 20 years ago, things could have been better.
No new stars were born, Vivica A Fox is again totally wasted, and the big draw of the original, Will Smith, refused to sign.
That said, the film is watchable.
The problem arises when you have finished watching the movie and you realise there is nothing memorable about it. It’s 90 minutes of your life lost.
While Emmerich made a big splash in 1996 with “Independence Day”, everything he does in the follow-up has been done a thousand times before and by filmmakers with half his talent.
“Independence Day — Resurgence”, kicks off exactly 20 years after the first film. The aliens are bigger, bolder and better prepared.
Their mission this time is much clearer: They want Earth’s natural resources and will destroy anything that stands in their way.
Fortunately, Earth is better prepared this time and has been expecting their return.
A group of young fighter pilots, led by the offspring of the brave men and women who stopped the first invasion, has been training for this day.
The decision to bring back some of the stars from the first movie was a stroke of genius, but it could have been done better.
The likes of Jeff Goldblum (David Levison), Bill Pullman (former president Thomas J Whitmore), Fox (Jasmine Hiller) and William Fitchtner (General Joshua T Adams), bring continuity and credibility.
But they are not given room to explore their range.
The new stars are the biggest disappointments of the movie.
Liam Hemsworth (Jake Morrison) clearly lacks the acting chops of his elder and more famous brother Chris. The younger Hemsworth has no screen presence and it does not augur well for him that his claim to fame — apart from having the same blood as Chris — is being the “idiot who almost married Miley Cyrus”. And the writers do him no favours by ripping off (poorly) “Top Gun” for his characterisation.
The only actor who fares worse than Hemsworth is Jesse Usher (Dylan Hiller).
Giving this role to a novice like Usher was a classic case of bad casting. With the withdrawal of Will Smith from the movie, allegedly due to conflicting schedules, Usher was expected to be key to the movie’s success.
Jessie Usher lacks charm, charisma and technical ability to carry such a huge movie. I don’t think anyone expected him to put up such a lifeless performance.
Pullman and Spiner are two other disappointments.
Spiner’s Dr Braskin Okun was insignificant role in the first movie and to bring him back as a comedy sideshow was pointless.
Pullman does not fare any better. He is the periodic voice of reason but what are supposed to be motivational addresses come off lame. What a shame considering his pitch in “Independence Day”: that one was inspirational and well-articulated, and came at a crucial time in the movie.
Needless to say, the box office has not been kind though there is a profit: but has grossed US$382 million on a budget of roughly US$162. Sounds like a lot of money until you remember that the big hits are touching the US$1 billion mark.
Even trash like “Batman v Superman” is making a killing.
But the horror story is not complete. “Independence Day — Resurgence” has open ending. I sure hope tomorrow — or 20 years from now we don’t get another sequel that nobody really wants.
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