Never underestimate the selling power of a charismatic cast and crew at the top of the their game. To truly understand the preceding sentence you need to admit a hard truth: Independence Day was a bad movie. On paper – both of the metaphorical and physical script kind – director Roland Emmerich and writer/producer Dean Devlin’s 1996 blockbuster hit was filled with a slew of groan-inducing tropes, stereotypical characterizations, generous helpings of cheese and forehead-slapping narrative fumbles.
But – and you just knew there was a “but” coming – none of that seems to dim my unending enjoyment of it over the years thanks to a breakout star-making turn from Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum at his most lovable Jeff Goldblummiest, an iconic Presidential speech for the ages, Oscar-winning visual effects giving us unprecedented cinematic destruction for the time, and Emmerich and Devlin firing on all cylinders.
Independence Day: Resurgence has almost none of those elements to physically yank it up by the bootstraps out of its B-grade trappings and so just like that, we’re left wallowing in actual “bad movie” territory. At least it’s a bad movie that had some original thought put into it instead of just completely rehashing its predecessor, and looks good enough to be worth every cent of its $200 million budget. But is that enough?
Set 20 years after the devastating alien invasion of the first film, Resurgence finds humanity in a golden era. The global unity and camaraderie needed to beat back the invaders two decades ago has not only lasted but actually strengthened, resulting in unprecedented world peace. The advanced technology found in the downed alien ships has also allowed humanity’s scientific engineering to leap forward to the point where space travel is now an almost pedestrian occurrence, with Earth even sporting bases across the solar system, complete with shiny laser weapons and orbital defense platforms. That last point is of special attention as these advanced defenses were expressly built in case the alien invaders ever came back to finish what they started.