By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
* Spoiler Alert
Independence Day: Resurgence might be a lot more fun if Will Smith was back, or if Brent Spiner was given a larger role. As Dr. Brackish Okun, the kooky scientist, this character is very likeable. Unfortunately, he spent the last twenty years in a coma after he was freed from the tendrils of the alien, and in what he learned when the two mind-linked most likely could have helped develop better technology to fend off from the alien re-invasion. The governments who banded together to create a new defence force was ill prepared for anticipating what the next wave could do to their planet and they could have benefited from Okun’s knowledge.
They knew one year, they would come back. The planet Earth is rich with resources and is a target for any alien force. Whether their intentions are good or bad, only how this planet’s leaders react decides the fate for many instead of all. Unfortunately, one wrong call was enough to get the rest of the galaxy to notice.
This movie put no thought to the hodgepodge introduction. It made no sense and it had no cohesion. With no real central character to keep the party of a dozen together, I was left feeling that no one figure came out of this film’s chaotic nature as admirable. Okun comes close. Everyone else fell into the situation by happenstance. I appreciate Spiner for agreeing to continue playing the eccentric, but I wished he had more to do in the movie instead of the itty bitty moments of him running around warning the base that the invasion is hardly over.
In between the return of a few recognizable faces — Jasmine Dubrow-Hiller (Vivica Fox), Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman), David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) and Julius (Judd Hirsch), the rest of the cast were new. Patricia Whitmore (now played Maika Monroe) is the daughter of the president in ID4 and Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) is the son of the sadly deceased Steven Hiller, USMC. Smith’s character died during the testing of a new jet fighter (at this point, I really hoped they were transformable jets!), and this detail was lightly addressed. At few photos exist of him, one in Dylan’s locker and another in the White House honouring his contribution to saving the human race from extinction.
The new cast consists of characters whom I find uninteresting. If there was any story between this group, I suspect the movie would have lasted for three hours instead of the two. Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Rain Lao (Angelababy) and Charlie Miller (Travis Tope) make up the remaining team that both Patricia and Dylan sort of fly with. Two of the three newbies were hardly needed to round out the team. Lao is more like pretty window dressing to satisfy the Chinese market and Miller hardly mattered in the story. If they are supposed to be the new power rangers, then where are the rainbow suits and team camaraderie?
On detail hinted at is in how there’s a grudge between the Jake and Dylan. As for how it all happened, the small explanation did not feel like enough. I had to take for granted that a prologue can be inserted in this Independence Day universe to flesh out why these new characters important. Dylan hardly seems like a pedigree of his father’s antics and I wondered if he worked hard to not be anything like his smart-ass stepfather. If anything, Morrison has a bit of a hotshot attitude, but it did not get played up enough during the film to matter. More gravitas was needed to make him stand out.
In the details of the story not told, I was left wondering how many aliens survivors were left on Earth. The trailers suggested a craft that crashed in Africa they fought the locals. Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei) is interesting enough to show that the Zulus will not take defeat easily. Actually, the country is the National Republic of Umbutu, but I suspect they come from a long line of warriors.
I get the feeling reading Independence Day: Crucible is needed to make sense out of the film. This movie should have been titled Independence Day: Generations. When considering this film is more about the new group of freedom fighters than the old, the direction is obvious. With only a few old-timers like Okun and Levinson around, just what kind of assistance they can offer is only their best guess in what to do. There’s a greater plot being developed, and if the third movie is happening, I get the feeling this series will finally be just like how Robotech took the fight to the alien homeworld (following the events of Macross). Heaven help us if this final film is like Robotech: Sentinels, spending too much at the start on deciding who should be in this expeditionary force. At least director Roland Emmerich got one concept right in his Independence Day universe. No invader can put down the resolve that we as humans have to fight back. Now that’s resilience for you.
2½ Aliens out of 5