Twenty years ago, the biggest movie of the summer was Independence Day, a movie directed by Roland Emmerich, a man who garnered a well-deserved reputation for making movies that feature well-known monuments and things being destroyed in visually flashy disasters. Let’s face it: fans went to see the White House explode.
I mean, I know I did. The movie is basically the epitome of eye candy. Don’t think about it, and you’ll probably enjoy it. Any thinking at all will ruin the whole movie, which at the time I thought was a movie that had most every scene taken from another, better film. And it was basically a War of the Worlds remake where hostile aliens looking to take all our resources showed up behind unbreakable shields only to fall to a virus.
Now, for reasons unclear, we have a sequel. How was it?
Well, it wasn’t necessary. In fact, it was basically another Independence Day.
Let’s see what we have…
- Cardboard cutouts for characters that we may theoretically feel bad for if and when they die? Check.
- A very loose understanding at how science and geography works? Check.
- A cute dog we can’t let die? Check.
- Most of the original cast back, including Robert Loggia who filmed a quick cameo before he died? Check.
- Bland newcomers? Check.
- Landmarks destroyed? Lots of nameless people killed? Check.
- Stereotypes! Check.
- An alien race that still lacks a name? Oh yeah. Same guys. Check.
- A rousing speech from Bill Pullman? Check and double check since they replay his original one a couple times.
The first film managed to get by largely due to the fact that despite having character types instead of characters, these types were given something due to Will Smith’s charisma and Jeff Goldblum’s Goldbluminess. This time around, Smith declined to return (his character was killed off between movies), and we have a bunch of bland, new, younger characters led by a Hemsworth (Liam this time) who need to save the Earth when the first invasion’s reinforcements arrive. All of this is perfectly forgettable because once the shooting starts, it doesn’t really matter who these people are. There’s even a subplot involving Judd Hirsch returning as Goldblum’s father. I am not sure why. Were people clamoring to see his character again?
Then again, were people clamoring to see this sequel?
Well, judging by the last scene, the producers clearly hope so. The movie ends with a few lines promising another sequel, this time expanding things a bit with more alien races besides the one that keeps coming to Earth to blow up our most recognizable buildings.
I will give Emmerich one thing: he does know how to put together a 90s style action sequence. That’s not a bad thing. Modern editing often goes for the quick, crowded cuts. Emmerich keeps things moving enough that you can actually stop, see what’s going on, and even appreciate the special effects. Compare the shoot-out at the end of this movie, to, say, Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians is a much better movie, but good luck tracking what’s going on in the finale with all the chaos of different ships flying around and blowing things up. For Independence Day, you can more or less follow what’s happening without too much trouble. Movies like this are basically all about those effects anyway, so why not get a good look at things? If you can bring yourself to really care about this movie, you will be able to follow what’s going on without too much trouble.
But I didn’t care that much. I’m giving it six out of ten London bridges falling down.