Review: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 21 June 2016



Set twenty years after winning the war against the invading aliens in INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996), the human race is more united than ever. Making full use of the alien technology to reconstruct their cities and even developing alien weapons, the world has prepared everything they can in case the extraterrestrial beings return. When the alien mothership starting to invade Earth again, it is up to former US President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and cable technician-turned-director of the Earth Space Defense (ESD) program David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), as well as a group of new characters including hotshot pilots Jake (Liam Hemsworth) and Dylan (Jessie Usher), the stepson of the late Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith, who declined to return and only appears in photos) to save the world from total annihilation. 

REVIEW: The first INDEPENDENCE DAY was a successful hybrid of science fiction and disaster genre famously known for reinventing the summer blockbuster by showcasing large-scale special effects to (convincingly) wipe out the major landmarks and cities. If you got to watch the original movie in the cinema back in 1996, it was no doubt a memorable cinematic event best experienced on the big screen. In fact, the movie still stands the test of time even watching it again in today's era.

When the long-awaited sequel was finally greenlighted in 2014 after years of false starts, it was nevertheless a huge undertaking for Roland Emmerich. After all, I always figured that INDEPENDENCE DAY was more suitable as a one-off movie than a potential franchise. But like it or not, INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE has arrived and here lies the biggest question: is it any good?

Well, one thing for sure, the sequel is no match with the first movie. But viewing this as a stand-alone movie, INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE offers plenty of popcorn-worthy entertainment value that has been synonymous with Roland Emmerich's big-budget blockbuster. With a whopping budget of US$200 million at his disposal, Emmerich gets to supersize everything in a gargantuan proportion. This is especially evident in terms of the scale and special effects. Whether it's the majestic view of the bigger-than-the-last-one alien mothership or the mass destruction scene ranging from the falling landmarks to a huge tidal wave sweeping the boats and vessels, Emmerich certainly knows how to pull off a large-scale spectacle best experienced on the biggest screen possible.

However, for all the busy visuals that filled the screen throughout its two-hour running time, the sequel fails to make full use of its ensemble cast. While it's nice to see some of the original cast including Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman reprising their memorable roles from the first movie, the same cannot be said with the new faces. Neither Liam Hemsworth nor Jessie Usher has the Will Smith's charismatic factor, whose glaring absence definitely left a huge gap in this sequel. Even without comparison, both of their acting performances are largely bland. As for the female roles, the up-and-coming Maika Monroe (best known for last year's IT FOLLOWS) who played as Whitmore's teenaged daughter Abigail and Sela Ward as the new commander-in-chief, are sadly undermined while Chinese actress Angelababy is terribly wooden and unconvincing playing a pilot character.

The plot -- which credited to five screenwriters including Roland Emmerich and his frequent collaborator Dean Devlin -- borrows everything from ALIENS (1986) to TV's The X-Files and even STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997), is both cheesy and implausible. Whereas the first movie at least knows how to balance its implausible scenario with an engaging storyline and strong characters development, the sequel is all about rushing from one big set-piece to another. There is little sense of restraint. And if that's not enough, Emmerich even gets ambitious by ending the movie on a cliffhanger note (read: obvious hint for more sequel). Frankly, I find the world-building is unnecessary because this sequel itself is more than enough to justify its forceful existence for nostalgia's sake.

Although INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE doesn't exactly recapture the sheer movie magic of the first movie, this otherwise lacklustre sequel offers plenty of decent entertainment value for a summer blockbuster.

* This review is written courtesy from 20th Century Fox Malaysia IMAX 3D press screening *

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