Alien invaders count as horror, right?
I thought so.
Here are a handful of random thoughts about Independence Day: Resurgence.
1. Brent Spiner is a perfectly fine actor, but Dr. Okun was entirely too prominent in this movie. The first Independence Day was the perfectly amount of Okun: get in, say some awkward things for laughs, have an alien tentacle wrapped around his neck and get out.
For this movie, it was almost like someone said, “Hey, what if we did that but for, like, half the movie?” Okun is a good character in moderation. “Moderation” is the exact opposite of what we got here.
2. Maika Monroe is great, isn’t she? Man, she’s great. I know there was an uproar over the fact that Mae Whitman wasn’t offered the chance to reprise her role from the original, but that doesn’t change the fact that Maika Monroe is great. (For the record, Mae Whitman is also great.)
So here comes Monroe, stepping into the role of Patricia Whitmore to offer…nothing. Absolutely nothing. It ‘s not Monroe’s fault: it was a terrible, shallow character. The few times Monroe was asked to really “bring it,” she did exactly that, only to see others not return the favor (or for the script to completely fail) and for those scenes to fall flat.
3. There was a subplot where Julius Levinson – the great Judd Hirsch – drives towards Area 51 with a schoolbus full of children. I am very much looking forward to a spin-off in the vein of Cheaper By The Dozen.
4. There were too many characters to really care about any of them. Our “new blood” was comprised of 5 characters: Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Rain Lao (Angelababy) and Charlie Miller (Travis Trope). That is entirely too many people to care about, especially when most of them are just empty husks. They could have cut 3 of the characters and allowed us to form a stronger bond with the remaining 2: Patricia and Dylan.
5. It’s not Jessie T. Usher’s fault, but he was playing the role of Steven Hiller’s son and showed exactly zero of the charisma of Will Smith’s Hiller. I say it’s not his fault, only because there are very few people who have the kind of easy charisma that Will Smith has.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that Dylan is Steven’s stepchild, so maybe that explains it.
6. Liam Hemsworth is a very handsome man, but he is not a very good actor.
7. There is a great part at the beginning with an African tribe who hunted the aliens who crash-landed at the end of the first movie. The tribe killed hundreds of aliens. We spend a good bit of time with their leader, Dikembe Umbutu, who killed them with a set of machetes. “You have to get them from behind,” he says. He’s the best.
So what does he do for the majority of the movie? He basically plays second-fiddle to a bumbling, comic-relief IRS stooge named Floyd. I hated Floyd. I hate Floyd so much.
8. When in its case, the alien orb looked like The Matrix of Leadership from Transformers: The Movie.
9. What happened to Constance Spano (David Levinson’s ex-wife)? Their relationship was a story throughout the original movie, and there is absolutely no reference to her here. Not only is there no reference, but apparently Levinson has had a series of relationships over the past twenty years, including one such instance with Charlotte Gainsbourg (or her character or whatever). I would have been happy with a simple comment. Instead we got nothing.
An aside: I like Charlotte Gainsbourg (mainly her music), but, given her film roles (most notably Antichrist and Nymphomaniac), this movie seems like an odd choice for her.
10. On the Memorial Wall, the name “Russell Casse” can be seen, and a single tear rolled down my cheek. When this comes out on Blu Ray, I’m going to pause that scene and see if I recognize any other names.
All of these thoughts (except the last one) are negative. Independence Day: Resurgence is by no means a good movie, but it’s not a terrible one. Sure, there are too many characters and that causes the movie to drag in parts. But the action sequences were all tremendous and there were a lot of cool ideas (like, A LOT of cool ideas). This felt like a movie that bit off more than it could chew: it had to fill in the gaps of what happened in the past 20 years, introduce a bunch of new characters, have the aliens return and set up a couple huge showdowns with said aliens.
I went to the theater and saw this as a double-feature with the original Independence Day. Watching them back-to-back like that – along with the natural hype that comes with a 20 year delay – probably made this movie feel a little more disappointing than it actually was. Again, this wasn’t a terrible movie: I think I just had my expectations set a bit too high. I do think a couple changes would have made for a vast improvement (less Okun and fewer characters/storylines, mainly), but it still seems like a perfectly fine – if flawed – movie. It’s tough to live up to the first Independence Day (some janky green screen aside, it still holds up and I still love it dearly), but this is still a movie I can see myself rewatching quite a bit. I gotsta see that rampaging queen as much as possible, ya know?
Two more thoughts, because I like to end on a positive note:
1. Jeff Goldblum is still a handsome man.
2. William Fichtner is in this and he’s awesome. William Fichtner is always awesome.