Independence Day Resurgence
I have a long history with ID4. I was 15 when it came out and was big into nerdy stuff like The X-Files and had a number of friends who were as well. When we saw the preview for this new alien invasion movie, I became instantly excited. A group of us made a plan to see this opening day (I am pretty sure this was my first opening day movie). There were so many of us we took up almost a whole row in the theater. It was an event.
Twenty years later, I saw the new movie alone during a matinee showing since no one else was interested in seeing it. Times have changed.
But has the movie? First I will say that the overall tone of the original film remains intact here. They manage to capture the same balance of humour, fun, and seriousness that the first movie had. It may lack Will Smith, but Jeff Goldblum is still Goldblumin’ it up. I will also say that this is certainly an interesting sequel to a movie I love, but not necessarily a well-made one.
The premise of the story I found quite intriguing. The aliens answer their own distress call and return to earth in full force. They manage to establish the mythology of this predator race well, explaining a little more how they work. They also establish how our world is different now that we have access to the aliens and their technology. The idea of an alien prison is interesting for example. One aspect that wasn’t so original however was the idea of the aliens having a hive queen. (Aliens anyone? Borg perhaps?)
There is another part of the story with a particular white orb which I won’t go into which starts off as instantly fascinating, but when its played out it becomes sort of silly.
But here’s the reason that this movie isn’t very good: the pacing. The first Independence Day was a massive hit and a well-remembered disaster film because it left an impression in people’s minds. We all know the explosion of the White House scene, or the Empire State Building. But the reason that all work so well is because the build up was so meticulously crafted. The tension was built in just the right ways that we as an audience were able to feel like something big was going to happen, then were paid off when it did.
In Resurgence, big stuff just happens. Sans build up. For example, when the aliens arrive, they just arrive. There’s no Will Smith getting his newspaper to see the clouds on fire. There’s no subtle shaking of objects on the lunar surface. When it shows up stuff starts getting ripped up immediately. And every big action beat after that is much the same. They are rushing through this movie, getting from set piece to set piece without thought of making those set pieces feel like they have weight.
I was actually surprised to see that Emmerich was behind the helm again, because it felt so rushed. He usually knows how to pace these disaster films much better. While I was interested in this movie as a continuation of the overall story, I was disappointed in the actual film-going experience. It really needed to slow down and let us take in what was happening.