Well, it is hard to believe that it took twenty years to produce a sequel to one of the biggest films of 1996 with Independence Day: Resurgence. The film is not getting good ratings (a 34 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and it is pretty easy to see why. However, this film might be the start of another Independence Day 3 film, as well as a tie-in with Stargate and release dates. There are spoilers ahead, so read at your own discretion.
Comparison to the First Independence Day Film
Internet reviewer Chris Stuckmann gave the film a C, and I will have to agree with that. The issue is that the original film was B-rated entertainment at best, with stock stereotype characters but the big action and special effects as a bonus. So, yes, this is a step backward.
Some of you might remember from my review of Jurassic World that this is a sequel that comes decades later, which means that the concept has to be revisited and built-upon. For Jurassic World, the audience has to believe that Jurassic Park "works", and for Independence Day: Resurgence, it is that the Earth works well after the alien invasion. In fact, there is this whole alternate world after 1996 that has reverse engineered the alien technology to create really the world where we have active colonies on the moon, flying machines, big laser guns, and so forth.
Now, this is a realistic aspect of the plotline, but here is the problem, it makes the film not as good as the first right out of the gate. One of the things that I liked about the first film is it is a grand underdog story of the human race, as humans have to use what they have to defeat these aliens and their vast technology. This is what made the human characters relatable, but now the human race looks like they are the Federation of Star Trek. It is no longer a somewhat relatable disaster movie, but very much a science fiction movie.
It is also a science fiction movie that has way too much on screen as far as the special effects are concerned. The first film had computer effects, which were relatively young at the time. Now, we live in a post-Phantom Menace world, and there are times in this film where the screen is littered with alien fighters and Earth figthters. The issue is that these aircrafts/spacecrafts look so much alike, and the shots are so quick, that the audience can't focus on it.
The plot is the same, structurally speaking. The aliens come, they attack, and it is big. Then the humans retaliate, and they fail. Then the humans come up with a full-proof plan that looks like it isn't going to work, but they work it out.
The problem with this second film is even though the action and effects are amped up, the characters and emotional impact are lessened. I remember in the first film, the scenes where Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C. were not just great special effects, but you felt the impact of people dying. There are times where people are sad, and regrets are happening.
In Independence Day: Resurgence, the aliens have their big attack, and maybe even destroy more people initially. I'll explain what I mean by that later, but no one in this film sheds a tear. The problem is that the film doesn't want to slow down and allow the audience the emotional impact of the massive destruction. Instead, the characters are acting like: "okay, we've been through this before, let's just figure out how to get rid of them".
Problems with the Story of Independence Day: Resurgence
I mentioned earlier how humanity mostly built themselves up again after the alien invasion from the first film, and they show that Washington D.C. has rebuilt itself along with the White House and Washington Monument. The weirdest thing is that the Washington Monument has a bunch of names on it. I thought that was a good tribute, but then I realized the impracticality of it.
Yes, I am spending two paragraphs on this, and I see where they are going with this. The Vietnam Memorial is great because it is a bunch of names on a wall, but putting the names of everyone who died in the alien war, on a giant monument doesn't make sense. The Vietnam Memorial is built tall enough so you can read all the names, but how can you read the names on a monument that is 500 feet tall? Also, did someone carve all those names in the monument, and is this enough space for the millions or even billions that died in this alien war?
So, with an opening like that, they hit you with the issue that Will Smith isn't in the film. His son from the film, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), is Captain Hillard in this film, and he is just not interesting. Considering the first film made Smith a star, this actor will at least use the sequel on his resume.
Jeff Goldblum is back as David Levinson, and he seems to deliver less "ahs" than he normally does. All his great dialogue is gone as well, and it looks like he has been promoted as chairman of some anti-invasion prevention committee or something. It shows him visiting Africa, where there is an alien ship left over from the last war. Apparently, this ship was shooting a beam to dig a hole, but David seems surprised that this happened. By the way, this ship landed in Africa, which was never discussed in the first film. Hello, retcon!
The best Will Smith character replacement (and there are sadly many) is Liam Hemsworth, who is a pilot named Jake Morrison on the moon that has a hard time taking orders. He helps save a moon weapon, but his commander isn't satisfied, and he's disciplined anyway. Good thing they built the moon weapon, as aliens show up.
These aliens could be different aliens from the ones that invaded in the first one. However, the new president (Sela Ward) votes to shoot them now and ask questions later. I would say that this is just stupid, but I think the film wants me to realize how dumb this move was. David then gets Jake to fly him to the moon to investigate the wreckage, and they discover something better than The Fifth Element, but they don't see how valuable it is until later.
Then the aliens show up, and they are the ones for sure from the first movie. The thing is they come in this ship that is like 3,000 miles wide, and then they land it on earth, destroying quite a few cities in the process. One of them is London, and I feel terrible not knowing what Asian city gets destroyed. I am not certain how to even describe how this ship lands and covers the Earth, but it is so huge that it more docks with it and covers some lands like a giant umbrella.
They almost destroy David's father, Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) on his boat, but he lives. There is this odd scene where these kids are driving a car who were not previously established pick him up in a world that looks really like Louisiana after Katrina. By the way, I like how Julius got himself a book deal with a volume known as How I Saved the World. Too bad more of this film wasn't like that.
Once the aliens land, the second shot-down ship is salvaged. Apparently, this second alien race has dealt with the evil race before. They want to give humans the ability to stop them, but they don't want the evil alien queen to know where they are. Yes, the evil aliens have a queen, and if you kill the queen, all the aliens die. How nice!
From there, it is about using this second race representative as bait. By the way, this alien representative looks like Marvin the Paranoid Android's head from Disney's version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I don't know if I'm the only one that has noticed that, but that is how I will describe it.
What is strange is the queen is on this ship that they blow up, but contain the explosion with force fields. Then it turns out that the queen has her force field, but they shoot through the force field. Yeah, this film is like a big video game and makes up its rules as it goes along.
After the aliens are defeated again, their big ship leaves. Why? I don't know, but it just takes off, and the humans don't try and intercept it in space and blow it up. Then it is discovered that Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) knows that the second alien representative has some info, and the war is going intergalactic!
Plans for Independence Day 3 and Stargate?
You can look for director Roland Emmerich's IMDB page and discover that Independence Day 3 is coming. There is certainly a huge hint in Resurgence that humans will use the new technology to create ships capable of interstellar capability. So now these Star Trek guys are becoming Star Wars guys.
That, or Stargate guys. I recently wrote about how Emmerich wants to completely reboot the Stargate franchise, and my advice is just to create a Cinematic and connected universe where Independence Day and Stargate take place. You have to admit, that just makes a lot of sense, even though it slaps the old franchises in the face. This is the problem with reboots, but it is fun to just combine a lot of awesome movies into one giant franchise. There isn't a release date set as yet, because all this is up in the air.