One day when aliens arrive, I wonder how they’ll be.
We’ve seen it all on film and page,
From sudden, savage wars to wage
To peaceful coexistent folk
We must take care to not provoke,
Though they’re the rarer sort we see.
More often, they’re the hostile type, who simply want a fight,
For resources or new terrains
Or guinea pigs to harvest brains.
And when the flying saucers land
For real, we won’t know what they’ve planned,
But likely most will fear the sight.
We’ve taught ourselves suspicion of the sky through new releases,
For not all otherworldly guests are charmed by Reese’s Pieces.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Well, I finally got around to seeing one of the most maligned films of last year, a follow-up to the alien invasion/disaster favorite Independence Day that has been widely derided as a wholly detestable flop of a sequel, but contrary to popular opinion, I liked it all right. True, coming twenty years after the 1996 original, it’s not as good as the first, but it’s not an affront to the original either, thanks to the return of director Roland Emmerich and most of the original cast members, with the key exception of Will Smith.
One thing I liked is the appealing way that the world has risen from the ashes of the first movie’s events. Thanks to remnants of alien technology, it’s more of a sci-fi world with moon bases and flying vehicles, and after facing potential annihilation, the political tensions have subsided in favor of utopian cooperation between countries. Sure, it’s probably wishful thinking, but I found it believable that the Independence Day invasion has become a shared 9/11-style memory for the world. Yet, there are still scars, from the mental trauma of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) to the constant worry that there might be an even more insidious “resurgence.” And guess what? There is, and mankind isn’t the only race to prepare for a rematch!
Resurgence does its best balancing the return of original cast members (Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, even Brent Spiner, whose Dr. Okun apparently wasn’t killed by that surgery scene gone wrong) with newer faces like Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, and Jessie Usher as fighter pilots who have grown up in the wake of the alien invasion. Playing the son of Smith’s character, Usher doesn’t have the same swagger or sense of humor, which instead go to the less memorable Hemsworth, and the ensemble doesn’t really leave room for much depth for any of the characters, with death scenes and the like being such quick tragedies that they leave little impression. Moreover, the higher-tech action tries to exceed the first film for explosive bombast and extensive but barely seen loss of life, just as the alien mother ship here dwarfs the ships from the first invasion.
And for those who hated this movie, everything I just said in that paragraph is a negative, but does it have to be? I tend to think that many have forgotten just how cheesy, rambling, and overblown the first film was; it’s not great filmmaking, but that cheese factor is its appeal. We get to see a wide swath of mankind facing off against alien invaders, with nerds, Air Force pilots, and Presidents banding together to save the world. Resurgence does more or less the same thing, along with many self-conscious tributes to the original formula, from a comment about destroying landmarks to a narrow escape that just has to save the dog.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty to criticize, like character changes (both Smith and Goldblum’s wife are written off as dead from the start, and Okun is revealed as gay for some reason), unoriginal plot developments (another giant alien queen), and a final scene that’s begging for a sequel I doubt will happen. Then again, who thought this sequel would happen? I just feel that there’s still effects-heavy fun to be had for those who don’t expect much. You don’t watch this kind of movie for drama, characters, or emotional involvement, though what there is of those is decent. It’s watchable because it’s a disaster, perhaps in more ways than one, and some people just want to watch the world explode.
Best line: (former President Whitmore) “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.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2017 S.G. Liput
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