Independence Day: Resurgence

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“I’ve had years to get us ready. We never had a chance…We didn’t last time, either.”

Some audiences might also dub that dialogue from the sci-fi action film Independence Day: Resurgence as an accurate assessment of this film. Not true.

Independence Day: Resurgence is enjoyable without taking itself too seriously though that perspective does slightly dampen the emotional effects of an epic struggle to prevent another alien invasion from ending of the world as we know it.

The two-hour running time works well as filmmakers take great consideration into the timing and emotional impact each scene has on the film overall so the enjoyable pace does not include any overdrawn scenes.

Audiences get familiar elements within an action-injected story filled with epic battle scenes, wide scoping strategies, respectful military depictions, and close encounters with aliens, which also involve a new “alien residual condition” element present in some of the more established characters.

Directed by Roland Emmerich and written by Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods (who also has a cameo as a military officer) and James Vanderbilt, the story has the same high stakes with light humor peppered throughout (e.g. dialogue quips like “they like to get the landmarks”).

This approach works well and accurately reflects the human condition. The character’s actions and coping dialogue emulates our natural reaction to stress yielding mildly humorous tendencies under duress. Overall, our human nature is very positive.

If filmmakers included even more humanistic moments that reflect this condition among characters with several ethnicities, then this film would have achieved a higher emotional impact and satisfaction for audiences beyond a romantic crush or new-found respect.

Set in modern times, our world’s leaders have had ample time to prepare for this predicted alien return using the aliens’ advanced technology to form the ESD (Earth Space Defense).

The characters work fine except for a forced connection between two major characters that yields no effective payoff. It’s a notable creative lapse from the filmmakers who otherwise produce a decent work.

This film contains several references and related storylines to the 1996 predecessor Independence Day plus other sci-fi films including Jurassic Park.

As in last summer’s Jurassic World, filmgoers might see this film due to the “nostalgia factor” so they can relive “movie magic” they might have experienced 20 years ago.

“We convinced an entire generation, that this is a battle that we could win. We sacrifice for each other no matter what the cost. And that’s worth fighting for.”

This important line solidifies the story skew towards a younger generation while retaining established, experienced characters for much-needed support in the story and acting.

Independence_Day_ResurgenceThis sci-fi sequel stars Australian Liam Hemsworth (Hunger Games film series, The Last Song) as pilot Jake Morrison and Jessie Usher (When the Game Stands Tall) as pilot Dylan Hiller.

Hemsworth’s accent came through in only one scene (where he begins with “I will join you….”) and has the charisma to equal Usher, but nothing extraordinary.

Filmmakers hint at Jake’s own personal resurgence among pilot ranks by presenting a serious snafu casually replayed for audiences on a media device. It’s an unnecessary ploy since audiences this predictable resurgence will happen naturally based on his formidable abilities shown in an early sequence.

Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman both return to their respective roles of expert scientist David Levinson and former U.S. President Whitmore.

David humbly provides expert insight without arrogance, which is admirable, but also predictable because audiences will easily know which strategic decisions made by the world leader characters will work and which will not.

Nicolas Wright (White House Down) plays David’s government “handler” Floyd who undergoes a dynamic change based on the dire circumstances.

French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg plays David’s colleague/scientific expert Catherine Marceaux while Maika Monroe plays Patricia Whitmore who was originally portrayed by Mae Whitman in the first film.

Sela Ward (The Fugitive) plays current U.S. President Lanford and William Fichtner (Elysium, Crash) plays General Adams.

Deobia Oparei (TV’s Game of Thrones) impresses as warlord Dikembe Umbutu who helps anchor appealing human conditions previously discussed while Travis Tope plays Jake’s co-pilot/friend Charlie who is infatuated with a Chinese pilot Rain Lao played by Angela Yeung Wing (a.k.a. Angelbaby).

Judd Hirsch also returns as Julius Levinson, David’s father, along with Vivica A. Fox as Jasmine Hiller and Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as the memorably eccentric Dr. Brakish Okun.

Joey King (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) co-stars as Sam who’s trying to care for her siblings in the best way possible after cataclysmic events while John Storey again plays the returning caring scientist Dr. Isaacs who has a relationship with Dr. Okun that’s largely left to audience’s interpretation (ranging from caregiver colleague to life partner).

The recently deceased Robert Loggia also appears in his final role as former U.S. President/General William Grey. Filmmakers should have given him a brief close-up so all audiences could recognize him better in this early scene set in Washington D.C.

Ng Chin Han (The Dark Knight) portrays a high ranking officer stationed on Earth’s moon while relative newcomer Jenna Purdy provides some important voice work for a surprising “character”.

Filmmakers could have spent more time establishing Earth’s current status (e.g. base on Saturn only mentioned after it’s destroyed) instead of mentioning them through character dialogue as an afterthought, but, again, the screenplay allots very limited time for characters and events.

The humorous references mixed with the disaster filled action basically exist to diminish any audience anxiety, especially among younger viewers.

This film has great visual effects including the jaw dropping gravitational sequences and climatic battle filmed at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah.

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These special effects wizards have the unique challenge of distinguishing human from alien among the aerial battle sequences while filmmakers often incorporate quick phrases from knowledgeable characters to explain the fantasy action being shown.

Independence Day: Resurgence comes recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and destruction, and for some language. Also showing in 3D and IMAX 3D theaters.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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