One of the more enticing, perversely entertaining traits of the disaster movie sub-genre, is the hypothetical scenario they pose. What would we do if the planet was attacked by aliens? How would we cope if there was a destructive earthquake ripping an entire state apart? And how do we detect Dennis Quaid in the midst of a superstorm? It’s a notion which the original Independence Day thrived off – but exactly where this superfluous sequel struggles, for mankind have advanced to a point where they have become difficult to relate to, and it sets this tale in a world that seems so far away from the one we know.
Roland Emmerich is back in the director’s chair, with Independence Day: Resurgence taking place in the present day, 20 years on from the previous attack. The former president Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is convinced that there’s a new breed of extra terrestrials on their way, mounting a far greater invasion than their failed attempt. Such news worries his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe), whose partner Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) remains stationed on the moon, as one of the more accomplished fighter pilots ready to play protector if needs be, alongside adversary Dylan Hiller (Jessie Usher). Meanwhile, and while the human race have adopted an unprecedented means of warfare from their previous conflict, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) fears it may not be enough to defeat the incoming species.
Any such feelings of trepidation and fear are persistently undermined by a lacklustre screenplay.
Unlike with the original picture, where the viewer embodied the character of Steven Hiller, played by Will Smith, this picture comes devoid of a palpable protagonist and hinders our own emotional investment into the narrative. We need an everyman, an entry point, and we’re left wanting. Instead we have a variety of characters to adhere to, with a complex series of interweaving narratives and such a broad number of characters, it’s a challenge to keep up with it all. On a more positive note, Emmerich, who has become so engulfed in the disaster movie genre, has depicted a sense of scope in a remarkable fashion, with the enormity of the forthcoming attack frightening and well-judged, appearing as a truly indestructible villain, and you have to feel that way for films of this nature to work.
Yet any such feelings of trepidation and fear are persistently undermined by a lacklustre screenplay. There was an original script in place intended for Will Smith to get back on board, which he then turned down. Rather than scrap the project given that the one great idea they had is now redundant without him, they persevered and sought to craft something new – and it’s that sense of contrivance which proves to be mightily detrimental to Independence Day: Resurgence.