"Independence Day: Resurgence" Review
A Strong Continuation of Roland Emmerich's Alien Invasion Classic
The plot to Independence Day: Resurgence is simple: 20 years after the earth was successfully defended from an alien threat, the aliens return with the same intentions but with a different motivation. Going into detail as to what that motivation is would be going into spoiler territory but let's just say that humanity may not be the biggest threat to the alien invaders.
Returning cast members include Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson, Bill Pullman as former President Whitmore, Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson (David's father), Brent Spiner as Dr. Brakish Okun and Vivica A. Fox as Jasmine Hiller. Of the cast of newcomers, the primary focus is on Jesse T. Usher as Captain Dylan Hiller (Steven Hiller's son), Liam Hemsworth as Lieutenant Jake Morrison, Maika Monroe as Patrica Whitmore (former pilot and President Whitmore's daughter) and William Fichtner as General Adams.
The ensemble cast provided a strong performance but I particularly felt connected to Pullman and Monroe's father-daughter relationship. It's a very loving relationship and both characters understand each other and the sacrifices they made very well. Pullman delivers a convincing performance as someone dealing with the post-traumatic stress of surviving a potential alien invasion, while Monroe adds depth and strength to a character that could have easily fell flat. Jeff Goldblum is pure gold as David Levinson. He possesses the most charisma and you believe in him as the director of the ESD (Earth Space Defense). Spiner is eccentric as ever as Dr. Okun and provides a nice jolt of energy.
Usher does well in his first major big-screen debut. I'm glad that Emmerich didn't go with the easy trope of the son struggling to live up to his father's standards but instead chose to go the route of a son having a healthy relationship with his father and carving his own path. Hemsworth does a good job as the roguish Jake but his critics may describe his performance as flat. Judd Hirsch doesn't have a lot to do but adds a veteran acting presence when on screen. Vivica A. Fox doesn't have a lot to do either but you do believe the mother-son connection between her and Usher's Hiller. Fichtner is great as General Adams and thankfully doesn't portray the bullheaded military archetype we've seen in many films.
The special effects were spectacle at its best as a giant spacecraft terrifyingly hovered over the earth and world monuments fell in a fiery blaze and left behind nothing but ash covered debris. The aliens looked realistic while maintaining their look from the first film. The action never felt confusing or dizzying and the big set pieces didn't feel weightless as Emmerich used a measure of both practical effects and CGI. The film never lost pace and was a breeze at only two hours.
My biggest negative of the film is Will Smith's absence. While the film is in no way dour or "dark", there are moments where you miss Smith's timely comedic relief that he displayed in the first film. I understand why Emmerich wouldn't force any of his actors to fill those shoes but I did miss the chemistry that Smith and Goldblum had in Independence Day. However, this is a minor nick pick as Smith's absence is largely unnoticeable.
Overall, Independence Day: Resurgence was what I expected it to be: a fun, explosive ride with characters I love and new characters that earn their worth in this universe. I hope the film is financially successful enough to warrant a sequel because I would like to see the story continue with a third entry (there is a tease about a potential third film).