When the science fiction film Independence Day was first released back in 1996, our kids were not even born yet. In fact, my wife and I were barely a year and a half into our marriage. Yet, in the preceding years, the film has become a household viewing tradition during the 4th of July holiday (among other days throughout the year). Our oldest is now in college and the other children are in or near their teens, but the tradition continues.
Some families barbecue, some honor our nation’s past and current military, and some attend local parades and fireworks, all in commemoration of the adaptation of the Declaration of Independence. We enjoy doing a lot of these too, but we also like to sit down for a little movie known as ID4.
On June 24, 2016, 20th Century Fox released the long awaited sequel Independence Day: Resurgence from director Roland Emmerich (Stargate, ID4, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) and co-writer/producer Dean Devlin (Stargate, ID4, The Librarian television series). Following along with our family tradition, we waited until this holiday weekend to check out the new installment.
Set appropriately twenty years after the initial invasion, humanity has utilized the crashed alien technology, including anti-gravity, warp-drive like engines, and some of the green laser weaponry. A new global Earth defense is established to fight against an expected repeat attack. But like any good disaster movie, there’s always a bigger fish.
When a wormhole opens up over the lunar surface and a mysterious orb emerges, the gun-shy humans shoot first and ask questions later. Unfortunately, the orb was a liaison from a different alien species, an enemy to the original invading creatures with the intentions of helping Earth fight off the upcoming second wave. And then, the real evil aliens show up, bigger and badder and making the devastation from the first attack look like a mild skirmish.
In the tradition of the original 1996 film and the American holiday it was named after, Independence Day: Resurgence exhumes humanity’s same tenacity for facing insurmountable odds in true Emmerich/ Devlin fashion. From a visual standpoint, this is a fantastic element in truly exaggerated Emmerich/ Devlin fashion. But from a plot perspective, fans may come away with mixed feelings. At times, the alien premise suited the genre with comfortable plausibility while simultaneously coming off just a little silly at times. It was difficult to determine if the silliness was the result of the details in the plot or the often embellished acting of the characters.
The cast is comprised of a respectably large number of returning actors as well as an impressive line-up of new faces. From the original Independence Day film, returning cast members include Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner and Robert Loggia. Newcomers to the story-line include Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner and Joey King.
One of the most misused characters was that of the returning Dr. Brackish Okun played by Brent Spiner. Comic relief is a common element in action movies, but sometimes the roles are misused. Thought to have been killed in the first film, the genius doctor returns after waking up from a long – long coma. Originally he was portrayed as an eccentric recluse due to his years of restrictive isolation from studying the downed spaceship in Area 51. But in this new movie, his actions border on idiocy, and his romantic relationship with Dr. Isaacs played by John Storey could have been handled in a more meaningful manner instead of the attempted heartfelt side note in the end.
For a better, less comedic understanding of the Okun character, check out the 1998 Stephen Molstad book Silent Zone. There have been a few novelizations set in this ID4 world, but Molstad’s prequel is one of the more plausible.
You may also want to check out the 5 comic Independence Day series (Dark Fathom) by Victor Gischler, which takes place shortly after the original film. The first issue was reviewed here at Amazing Stories.
A convenient way to review a movie after viewing it with a family made up of various age groups. Observing their reactions and comments helps put one’s personal opinions in perspective. What I witnessed was a lot of laughs, gasps, cringes and awes. But there were also a few face-palms and groans. Independence Day: Resurgence is a fast paced entertaining movie. As long as the viewer can look past the absurdity and appreciate it for the charming science fiction adventure that it is supposed to be, then it is bound to be a worthy addition to the family tradition.