1996’s “Independence Day” was a film that never truly necessitated a sequel. It was a very self-contained film that accomplished exactly what it set out to do, mainly acting as a fun and exciting spectacle that viewers could get engaged in thanks to some interesting characters and a good splash of humor. Revisiting it recently for its 20th anniversary, it still held up quite well as a charming and nostalgic blockbuster that contained some rather amazing effects for the time. 20 years later, a sequel just seems a little late, but the upside was that the filmmakers would have had quite a long time to come up with a great story to continue where the first film left off. With two decades to plan it, nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
Picking up 20 years after the events of the first film, the world is a somewhat different place thanks to all of the alien technology gained from the war of 1996. Earth has been preparing itself just in case the aliens should attempt another attack, launching a global defense system and placing similar weapons on the moon. As everyone is preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the aliens’ defeat, Earth Space Defense Director David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) discovers that one of the crashed ships sent out a distress call, and as we soon discover, it was picked up by a harvester ship that sets its sights on drilling into Earth and stealing its molten core. It’s up to David, former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), and a new generation of fighters to help take down the impending alien threat and save the planet.
The very first thing that has to be said about Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day: Resurgence” is that it’s perhaps the most instantly-forgettable sequel ever made. There’s not a single bit of originality to be found throughout its two hour runtime, and for that, we have little choice but to label it a rather big disappointment, made even worse by the fact that they had 20 long years to put together a sequel that would be worthy of the entertaining original. The first film wasn’t great by any means, but you still somehow ended up caring about the characters amidst all of the grand spectacle (i.e. the destruction of cities, the aerial fights, etc.).
The five (!) writers behind this sequel seem to have forgotten about what made the original work in the first place, instead presenting flat characters who are left adrift in a retreaded story that comes across as having been written in about ten minutes. It’s clear from their use of some of the older characters and their relatives that they were hoping to capitalize on the nostalgic value of the 1996 blockbuster, but when the narrative hardly even cares about the characters, including the superfluous new additions, then how can the audience be expected to?
Luckily it’s not all bad, for it was a small delight to get to see Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson again, and an even bigger pleasure to see Judd Hirsch’s Julius make his return, both of whom provide much of the film’s comic relief. It’s somewhat telling when one of the unimportant side characters ends up being the best character in the entire film, and subsequently the one you want to see on screen the most. Perhaps if a third film is to come out, we can have something simply titled “The Levinson Adventures” or “The Levinsons Save the World.” You laugh now, but do you have any doubt it would make for a more effective sequel?
In the end, the film’s tagline about having 20 years to prepare becomes quite ironic. It really ends up being the most shocking thing about this entire endeavor that this is the best they could do after having so much time to develop a sequel. Sure a large part of the original’s entertainment factor was the effects, and “Resurgence” does it’s best to pile them on as well, but without characters to care about and an engaging, original story to make it all worthwhile, then the project was doomed from the start. If we do somehow get a third film, then we can only hope that the filmmakers will take their time to smooth out its most important elements before moving forward, instead of rushing something out that clearly didn’t have enough thought put into it.
“Independence Day: Resurgence” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The image is crisp and clear throughout the entire presentation, which does a great job of highlighting the film’s plethora of visual effects. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally impressive, giving you all of the dialogue, score, and multitude of sound effects in outstanding quality. Overall, the film has received great treatment, ensuring the best experience possible.
Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich: A commentary in which the director/co-writer doesn’t have much to say other than describing what’s happening on screen.
Deleted Scenes (8 Minutes): A collection of eight deleted sequences that includes an alternate opening.
Gag Reel (6 Minutes): An amusing collection of outtakes.
The War of 1996 (5 Minutes): A fake news program about the previous attack that is easily skippable.
It’s Early ABQ! (3 Minutes): A fake talk show that is also easily skippable.
Another Day: The Making of Independence Day: Resurgence (55 Minutes): A fantastic four-part
“Making of” featurette that includes lots of interviews with the cast and crew.
With its flat characters and a bland, retreaded narrative, “Independence Day: Resurgence” makes for a banal and instantly-forgettable sequel that can’t even live up to the decent spectacle of the original. Again, the first film isn’t what one would call great, but it had some really good entertainment value and characters worth caring about, two major elements that this sequel sorely lacks. Perhaps with another 20 years, the filmmakers will be able to unravel the mistakes they made and provide a sequel that delivers the nostalgia, excitement, and silliness that should have been present here.