Certificate PG, 120 minutes
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
Independence Day: Resurgence is the sequel to Independence Day, 20 years after the original was first shown and set 20 years after it. The film opens with a scene from space, showing worlds that look like they have been cored before finally closing in on a gigantic spaceship crouched on top of a planet. Inside it, a signal is being received, a video of U.S. President Whitmore's (Bill Pullman) original pre-mothership-attack speech from Independence Day, before a glimpse is seen of an alien responding to it. Then, in Morristown, Virginia, former President Whitmore wakes up. Was this a dream, a premonition or actually what is happening. Whitmore believes that the aliens are coming back, and that this time Earth won't be able to stop them.
In the 20 years since the events of Independence Day, humanity has reverse-engineered the alien technology and blended it with Earth's own, creating some unusual hybrids, such as helicopters without rotors and fighters that look very similar to current ones, but which are actually starfighters, not just fighters. The world has also largely come together as one (although still with separate nations), in order to respond to the belief that the aliens will be back.
It's the day before the Independence Day celebrations, a big one celebrating two decades since the attack. In the White House, Captain Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), the son of the deceased Captain Steven Hiller is meeting U.S. President Lanford (Sela Ward) prior to the next day's celebrations, as he's leading Legacy Flight in the celebrations. Also serving at the White House is Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe, The 5th Wave, The Guest), the daughter of the former president.
In Africa, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), now the Director of research at Area 51, is heading to meet a warlord with a U.N. convoy. The warlord, Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei), has recently taken over from his father. His forces fought a ground war against the aliens for 10 years apparently, and they have the only alien craft that landed on the Earth in their territory, and it has a huge hole partially dug into the ground below it. Also present is Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a psychologist with whom Levinson has had some sort of on/off relationship. They are heading to speak to the warlord, because the alien craft has just turned itself on. Inside the vessel, David finds that it seems to be emitting a distress beacon. The beacon that would seem to have been shown at the beginning of the film, so it was fact, not a dream.
At Area 51, at the Space Defence Headquarters, all the alien prisoners have suddenly started showing signs of life, after 20 years of dormancy. Dr. Brakish Orun (Brent Spiner), who has been in a coma ever since one of the aliens used him as a communicator in the original film, also wakes up.
Prior to the Independence Day celebrations starting, contact is lost with the defence post out at Saturn, and the rings of the planet have been disturbed by some sort of force. A large globular spaceship appears out of what appears to be wormhole above the moonbase and, after consulting with the other leaders, General Adams (William Fichtner, Elysium, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) of the Earth Space Defence and Director Levinson, President Lanford gives the base the go ahead to fire on the globular craft, although David advised not to do so, because it was nothing like the technology from the previous alien invaders. The prospect that it is the aliens returning is deemed too great to risk, so the craft is fired upon and shot down.
This successful defence of the planet is used as part of the speech for the Independence Day celebrations, but before they get too far into it, a new vessel is suddenly detected, appearing from behind what looks like a cloaking mechanism. This craft is much, much larger than either the globular ship or the previous mothership. Roughly saucer like in shape, it is around 3,000 kilometres in diameter. The defence station on the Moon proves ineffective at stopping the craft, nor do the orbital defences fare any better. Counting down to fire is never a good idea.
The craft, which is large enough to have its own gravity (although the effect that this gravitational influence has on the Earth seems a little suspect, from a physics point of view), heads to Earth, landing on top of it and spanning the entire Atlantic Ocean, which causes what is beginning to feel like the obligatory destruction of London (notably, scenes weren't shot in India to avoid potential protests against showing Indian monuments being destroyed; evidently it was felt that wouldn't happen with London). Once again, the Earth's defences have been casually brushed aside by the alien invader, and once again there is a desperate rush to try and stop the attackers before the literal end of the world.
The film is available in 2D and 3D, with the 3D version being the one seen. This is the type of live action film that works in 3D, as it is CGI heavy and has a lot of large scale, three dimensional battles, as Earth's starfighters battle those of the alien attackers. These scenes are just what would be expected in the 20 years since the original - bigger and more spectacular in nature. Some of the recurring cast are the original members reprising their roles; the younger members who were children in the original are being played by new actors. There are some new members as well, such as Jake Morrison.
The aliens reason for attacking is, as is pretty much the standard, a bit on the dubious side. Although, having said that, it is on the low end of dubious rather than one of the silly "they want our water" reasons. It is still something that wouldn't necessarily require them to risk attacking an inhabited world, although a race capable of building 3,000km diameter starships would probably feel that they haven't got much to fear from earth's inhabitants (in real life, probably justifiably so).
The film is pretty much what you'd expect to see from a sequel to the original blockbuster. Former president Whitmore delivers another stirring speech. People around the world listen to General Adams' broadcast about how they are fighting back. Everything is bigger; the aliens have a much, much bigger ship and the epic battles are more epic in nature. David Levinson's father, Julius (Judd Hirsch), delivers a human angle that is pretty much irrelevant to the plot. Some of the cast suffer from personal loss, others step up to fill roles that they didn't think they could, those that had damaged their relationships repair them for the good of all and new allies are found.
One noticeable thing is the frequent mention of just how important the role of the Chinese was in the space defence, which results in two supporting cast members, one of the pilots in Legacy Flight, Rain Lao (Angelababy, Hitman: Agent 47), and the commander of the moonbase, Jiang (Chin Han). Important, but not important enough to give them more than two characters, but it does give the impression that the makers are catering to the Chinese market.
The film delivers just what you'd expect from a blockbuster sequel. It ticks all the boxes, and it looks, as expected, great. The characters are not that memorable, and are pretty stereotypical in nature. If Independence Day: Resurgence has a flaw, it is that all it does is deliver what would be expected; it doesn't go beyond that and deliver more, it's simply Independence Day with bigger effects.
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