I was only about two years old when the War of 1996 happened…I mean, when the first Independence Day released in theaters. So unfortunately, I was not one of the many people who saw it on the big picture. My viewings of the movie were limited to the smaller, square screen. Nonetheless, it was just as awesome to watch for my family and I.
I don’t quite recall when it became a tradition to watch every 4th of July; I believe it just ended up happening. My grandmother had a huge library of VHS tapes at her home and since about every year we’d go to her house on July 4th, I think you see where I’m going with this. Usually in an effort to kill time until it was dark enough to light fireworks, we’d pop in a movie to pass time. And what better movie to watch than the aptly titled, Independence Day?
So every year, on or around the 4th of July, I take the time to watch ID4 (yes, that’s the abbreviation for it), whether it was by myself or with family. You think it’d get tiresome but it became comfortable in a way. Despite knowing everything that was going to happen, it didn’t stop it from ever being a fun sit. The effects, the characters, the one-liners and the cheesiness all added to the experience.
Over the years, there’d be talk about plans on doing a sequel which was a fun idea to speculate on what it’d be about or who would come back, etc.. But I honestly never thought it’d happen. I thought it would just be all talk, like Speed 3 or Beverly Hills Cop 4. But who would’ve guessed: it actually happened. The aliens came back.
Movie Review (No Spoilers)
To sum it up: I really liked this movie. It didn’t just remake the first movie nor veer off into a different direction. It took elements from the first and expanded upon them while adding new things into the mix. To me, that’s a good sequel.
A lot of people, however, seem to not be as satisfied with the movie as I was. About any review you find will have people say it sucked, it’s cliche, it’s cheesy, it doesn’t make sense, blah blah blah. Now, I’m not saying anyone’s opinion is wrong but there’s just one thing I want to ask these people: Did you see the first movie? Because the first one isn’t exactly absolved of those issues, either. The first one has cheesy moments and one-liners galore, tied with a good moment or two of “definitely suspend your disbelief”. If you expected that to be dropped, I’d seriously have to ask what planet are you from.
In other scenarios, I would say this movie is a “If you like the first one, you’ll like the second.” And in some ways, it is that. But there’s an addendum I’d like to put with that statement: “If the main thing you liked about the first one was Will Smith, then you won’t like the sequel.” Yes, Will Smith did not reprise his role from the first movie. Rumor has it that he wanted too much money and his son to be in it. But more likely, he chose to star in Suicide Squad (Haha).
In his place is the character of his son in the first movie, which was fitting enough. Liam Hemsworth now takes on the role of ‘bankable star to put on the poster and trailer’ that Smith had in the original. I never much cared about Hemsworth but he’s always likable and this role is no exception. Returning members include Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox and Judd Hirsch, with a cameo by the late Robert Loggia.
The President’s daughter from the first movie, played by Mae Whitman, was not asked to return despite her being an actress now. Her inclusion in the sequel would’ve been welcome so it’s unfortunate and obvious why she wasn’t invited. Regardless, her replacement, Maika Monroe, does well enough in her absence.
The plot is simple enough but they explore new ideas and answer questions leftover from the first invasion. Earth’s many countries have united as one and they’ve utilized the alien’s technology so laser weapons, hover capabilities and space travel are now established in this world. Other denizens have had direct contact with the aliens, fighting them off physically. It’s nice to finally see what happened after the events of the first film and how humanity rebuilt itself, rather than wonder. Some characters have been traumatized by the events of the first movie, like Bill Pullman’s Thomas Whitmore while others have done their best to move forward, like Vivica A. Fox’s Jasmine Hiller. In a weird way, it’s like going to a high school reunion, getting to see what everyone’s been up to for the past twenty years.
The visuals are pretty good and consistent, which is a big plus for me. I saw it in 2D but it looks like it’d be fun in 3D as well. They’re not as realistic as the original but the advancements since then allows them to do some pretty amazing shots. The first movie was a milestone for the modern blockbuster due to it’s amount of destruction and death, which it seems is something people forget about the first Independence Day. A lot of people died in that film. And it’s the same case in the sequel. Cheesiness aside, it is quite devastating when you think about it. People are lined up in cars, seeing actual people trying to escape from an explosion but it’s apparent they’ll never make it. Grim.
You think they wouldn’t be able to top it without going overboard but they keep the destruction and believability ratio in check. I was audibly astounded when I was watching the calamity unfold on screen since it wasn’t outside the movie’s universe. Compare that to last year’s Age of Ultron.
But that’d be a interesting concept, no? An Avengers x Independence Day crossover?
If I had to list one difference between the two movies, it’d refer back to what I said above. While Will Smith was just a character, he did add an element of charisma to the movie. I wouldn’t say that it’s what Resurgence is missing but it is something that isn’t there. It’s not completely absent, though, just not as prevalent. Rather than being charismatic first and serious second, the sequel switches the two. I don’t think that’s a deal breaker but I suppose for some people it might be.
All in all, this movie is a continuation of the original Independence Day, not a retread. The best way I can compare it is to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies: The first movie was fun, family adventure while the second is roughly the same but a little darker in tone. Independence Day: Resurgence takes things a bit more seriously while retaining the vibe the first movie established.
Perhaps it’s fate that I’m posting this review today, on the 4th of July. And we once again will be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression or persecution – but from haters on the internet.
We’re fighting for our right to like cheesy as hell movies.
And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday but as the day when the world declared with one voi…sorry, got a bit carried away.
Anyway, I thought the movie was pretty good. As someone who’s watched the original his whole life, it was great to see that world again in a new way. Despite it being a ‘mindless blockbuster’, these movies still have heart and is something everyone can enjoy because no matter who you are or where you come from, at the end of it, we’re all on this planet living together.
The aliens aren’t fought off by superheroes, invincible beings or gods; they’re fought off by us regular humans. So take pride in our species. Take pride in our independence.