Article by: Anthony Florez
The sequel to the 1996 summer blockbuster, Independence Day: Resurgence, is a fitting and satirical metaphor for the burden of war on a younger generation and how, once the mantle is passed, the responsibility of security on a global stage can affect different cultures, leading to a loss of identity in an ultimately fascist albeit humanitarian…..HAHA! Just kidding. To be perfectly honest, I liked this film and I had a worrisome thought, the same one I had after I enjoyed Warcraft: “…am I dumb? Am I dumb now?” Is this the same feeling that Charlie had towards the end of Flowers for Algernon? Where my mind is slowly deteriorating into a tacky, cookie dough-like substance that will suddenly find Two and a Half Men hilarious and Larry the Cable Guy a kindred spirit? In all honesty, probably. But then a thought occurred and I was able to lay my head down and rest peacefully until I was woken up and asked to leave by the bartender. I suddenly realized that I don’t go to the theater for substance anymore and I haven’t in a long time. And that I’m perfectly alright with that. It’s not that there isn’t substance to be found, it’s just that television is, without a doubt, the superior medium at the moment. With things like Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot, and The Americans among others, all available for streaming on the small screen, I have completely satisfied my need for complex and thematic drama. Like having a bottle of good scotch at home, I’d rather enjoy it there in peace and when I go out I’m more in the mood for a car bomb or a Fireball. And that’s what this movie is: pure recreation without any aesthetic or adroit qualities to weigh it down. And I’m shocked, shocked I say, that everyone seems to hate this movie with an absolute passion.
There seems to be this constant tone in reviews of being above this movie or that liking the original is some magical mark indicating allegiance to Clan Stupid and I don’t subscribe to that. I was in my early teens when Independence Day came out and it was an event, pure summer blockbuster stock, the absolute epitome of popcorn flick and it was a perfectly satisfying experience that also catapulted Will Smith to film stardom. It had the feel of a classic 1950s sci-fi flick with modern special effects that took itself completely seriously… except when it didn’t, of course. Resurgence doesn’t quite match that tone, I’ll admit that, but I really don’t know how it could considering that sci-fi on the scale of the original film has already been made and surpassed on the small screen. Instead, it goes for something the closer to anime, which, if you have never acclimated to that particular storytelling medium, is going to feel unavoidably clunky or formulaic. It’s the same way I felt about Pacific Rim, objectively, not a strong narrative film and kind of lousy with goofy stereotypes but that’s just what anime is like. The characterization takes a back seat to scale and action and to the scale of the action.
The biggest and most obvious weakness is the absence of a charming molten center like Will Smith. Lesser Hemsworth and not Nick Cannon make an honest go at it and the film is replete with nebbish comic relief but it’s also awkwardly multi-ethnic with let’s say a strong female Asian character and an African warlord I’m not sure if I’m offended by. So it seems to have taken that weakness and tried to compensate in the other direction with complete unknowns for some sense of variety. I will say outright that shoehorning in anyone they could find from the original, including the late and wonderful Robert Loggia, felt stilted to me. Either move on or do not move on and, unfortunately, an addled Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum aren’t written well enough to straddle that divide. But there is enough familiar terrain here to feel like a kind of sequel, maybe one that would have made for a better made for TV mini-series? There I go again, preferring television to the silver screen. I just feel like more time is needed to flesh out the invading aliens, who are called, simply, Aliens by scientists, scientifically, as opposed to Formics or Xenomorphs or something more creative. Okay, so there is a lot to pick on here. Granted.
But my problem with popular opinion is that I really don’t care. The more indignant it gets the more it starts to sound like this to me. I like fighter planes and laser guns that go pew pew. And space shit. And trite rallying speeches about not giving up on things when it’s the apocalypse. Probably another reason I liked Pacific Rim (whose apocalypse was cancelled). I like that in the days before iPads and TV screens on the back of car seats I used to sit and stare out the window on road trips imagining my own sequel in my head, creating and expanding on a really fun, exciting Universe. Which is what I think Roland Emmerich tried to do and whether or not he failed, I still don’t care. I guess I like science fiction film so much that I’m just glad it gets made every now and then, it’s one of my favorite genres. And if this is starting to sound like an apology for enjoying this movie, it’s not. The theater I saw it in was full, it laughed when it was asked to, and applauded at the end. In fact, I sat next to a pair of middle aged absolute idiots who would not stop talking and recapping the movie the whole time, seemingly oblivious to Alamo’s strict no-talking policy. But I did not raise a complaint because ultimately it didn’t matter, and it didn’t bother me at all once I reminded myself I was sitting in a theater with the sequel to Independence Day, which, if you’re going to take so seriously it makes you angry, I have some fortune cookie advice: the answer has been inside you all along. That being said, I fully appreciate the hypocrisy that will rear its corpuscular head in a few weeks because the only reason I’m going to spend money to see Star Trek: Beyond is to rip that movie to shreds like a rabid, half starved Ocelot.
P.S. I reviewed the original once upon a time, almost two years ago, in fact, and took it about as seriously as I could. With obvious results.