Hollywood sure knows how to make money; by making sequels to financially successful movies. To say that it is a formula to success is an understatement – it is pretty much guaranteed success. Not convinced? Just look at the many sequels in 2016 alone – London Has Fallen, Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising, Now You See Me 2, Batman Vs. Superman, Finding Dory, Star Trek Beyond and Jason Bourne just to name a few.
This summer, we see the return of yet another movie franchise: Independence Day: Resurgence. It has been twenty years since the last movie’s release and frankly, I never imagined a sequel to be made. A lot of times I wish movie studios never made a sequel to a good movie since so many attempts ruined a perfectly good iconic movie (I am looking at you Jurassic Park 2), so I went into the theatre with a gain of salt and hoped for the best.
Spoiler Alert! This review will touch on some elements of the plot but without spoiling the majority of the story, so read on at your own risk.
We see the return of Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and Brent Spiner – wait a second, no Will Smith? There are several mentions and photos of Smith’s character in this movie but certainly no cameos. If you dig deeper into the movie’s official web site, you will find mentions of Smith’s character Captain Steven Hiller being killed during a 2007 mission in the fictional timeline. So no Smith, who is going to save the world? More of that later. The old cast members are now joined by Liam Hemsworth, Joey King, Maika Monroe, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Angelababy and Sela Ward to fight off some evil aliens.
So humanity needs to fight off invading aliens for survival. Hang on, are we talking about the original Independence Day or the sequel? Yes, they basically share the same general plot. Of course, with 20 years behind, we expected advancements in human technology. Since the events of the “1996 War”, the human race have harnessed alien technologies and made laser-shooting weapons, anti-gravity spaceships and global space defence systems against potential invaders from outer space. Given the background of the movie, the fictional technologies seemed fairly realistic – meaning you will not find Star Trek style interstellar travel here.
Off screen, computer softwares and movie making techniques also have improved in the last two decades to bring out spectacular CGI effects from start to finish. Absolutely no complains in the visual department. In some of the battle scenes I even feel like I am watching a new Star Wars Movie (plus the similar musical score at the end credits). I did indeed see it in 2D, but imagine it to be worth while paying the extra few dollars for a 2 hour 3D experience.
It is a fast paced disaster/ science fiction movie as it is expected to be. The sequel did a nice job in capturing the audience’s attention span but failed to deliver the same level of suspense the previous movie has managed to. Frankly, it is slightly underwhelming comparing this movie to the the now iconic original. The build up to the pivotal plot point also felt somewhat expected with the twists lacking originality. Although the twists do certainly pay tribute to the previous movie, it just feels like it has been done before for quite a few times.
I did catch myself rolling my eyes seeing the character development of Liam Hemsworth within the first 5 minutes of the movie. It attempts to portraits him as a slightly reckless, risk taking person with some unresolved personal issues. Hemsworth’s character is pretty much to replace Smith’s place, being the hero and delivers the occasional comedic lines.
I have mentioned before in my Now You See Me 2 review, that we have seen more involvement of Asian actors in recent Hollywood movies, in order for movies to sell more tickets in the Asian market. Independence Day: Resurgence does the same with Angelababy, a Chinese model turned actress who had a minor role in Hitman: Agent 47. The Chinese influence does not stop here. There is a very distinstive Chinese product placement in the movie, completely un-related to the plot and it is indeed very distracting for the audience. For comparison, think of World War Z’s Pepsi product placement. Product placement done nicely (being discreet), is a good way to promote to a global audience. This in-your-face aspect of this particular product placement is at best laughable.
Independence Day: Resurgence is a fun, heroic, summer blockbuster movie for the whole family to see. It is a nicer way of saying that it is slightly brainless. None the less it is an entertaining movie to watch. This movie currently has a rather low score of 32% in Rotten Tomato, comparing to the original Independence Day, which earned a respectable 61% rating. This movie left off to an open ending and director Roland Emmerrich has revealed that *there is a possible sequel to this movie depending on none other than the financial success of this entry.
The Web Site is VERY nicely done, walking you through the timeline to help you understand the movie. Click Here to explore the web site.
Watch the trailer below
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*McMillan, Graeme (June 13, 2016). “‘Independence Day’ Director Shares Plot of the Movie’s Original, Unmade, Sequel”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 3,2016.