Here’s the thing: I went to see Independence Day Resurgence assuming that it would be heavy on the nostalgia and just as cheesy as the first movie. I even re-watched Independence Day recently because after seeing the previews I hoped that this sequel would be as close to the first movie as possible.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Independence Day Resurgence. Unless you don’t care about knowing what happens before watching, you should not read this article.
That isn’t something I thought of or expected before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and of course Independence Day Resurgence isn’t even close to TFA’s quality, but it IS something that I believe both movies did well. That is, both movies took an old story we know and love, added some new characters and just enough differences to make it a new experience, and therefore made for an enjoyable couple of hours in the movie theater. And to be honest, for me that says a lot, because I am not a big fan of going to the movie theater. Seriously, when are we getting that option to rent just-released movies on our home televisions? I assume I’d have to pay a premium price, but I would pay quite a bit if doing so meant sitting on my couch with my pets and enjoying a brand new movie in my own home. I mean, the technology is there.
And speaking of technology (sweet segue, right? ha), Independence Day Resurgence didn’t waste much time before straight up announcing that their 2016 features combined human/alien technology. No sooner had they showed the first shot of a much-more-advanced Washington D.C. than we got not only a dose of nostalgia by seeing Russell Casse’s name on the “War of 1996 Memorial”, but also a voice-over telling us exactly why there were crazy awesome monorails and flying transports zooming around the Capitol. They also explained Will Smith’s absence right away; to be honest, although the voice-over bit was heavy-handed, it wasn’t nearly as bad as this one weak mention of why Steven Hiller wasn’t there to [help] save the day this time around.
In fact, probably my biggest complaint about Independence Day Resurgence is that they killed off some of the original characters in ways that were too obnoxious even for me and the level of cheese that I was expecting from the film. Probably the worst of the two was when one of our new heroes, Dylan Hiller – who we already know lost his adopted father – had to watch his mother Jasmine fall to her death. I wasn’t fond of [former] President Whitmore’s demise, either, and I understand that maybe Vivica A. Fox didn’t want to play a major role or be featured in any further Independence Day sequels, but unfortunately the circumstances made it a very bad case of fridging. And I’m still not sure if I somehow missed something, or if they didn’t mention David Levinson’s (Jeff Goldblum) wife Margaret Colin once. If they didn’t…well, I’d kind of like to know why, I suppose.
That’s really my point here – this movie definitely had plenty of flaws, but then, so did its predecessor. Clearly the way I chose to go into that theater was with my nostalgia glasses on and mostly just let Independence Day Resurgence entertain me. I don’t fault anyone who didn’t like the movie, but my suggestion is to just go along for the ride and enjoy it for what it is. For instance, this sequel didn’t focus on romance as much as the first film did (and sadly when there was romance it was way more awkward and forced due to poor chemistry between most of the actors involved in the “couple” roles). Instead, we got an even heavier dose of families and especially friendships, which was a nice change…even when it meant Julian Levinson adopting a passel of children or President Whitmore giving his life to save his daughter. And while I wasn’t quite sold on the relationship between Dylan and newcomer Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) until much later in the movie, I enjoyed the banter between Jake and his best friend Charlie Miller.
Despite a few points in the film where the editing seemed off (as if they’d thrown together two pieces that shouldn’t be attached), overall it was visually pleasing and decently paced. For me the biggest compliment I can give to Independence Day Resurgence is that *I had fun watching it*. Even the cheesiest moments were rarely eye-roll-inducing; rather, they tended to illicit indulgent smiles on my part. Yes, the “Critics Consensus” on Rotten Tomatoes is that it’s “undeniably visually impressive, but like its predecessor, Independence Day: Resurgence lacks enough emotional heft to support its end-of-the-world narrative stakes”…but that consensus also serves another purpose: reminding us that this movie is very close to being a retelling of what ID4 gave us twenty years ago.
In conclusion, if you enjoyed Independence Day, and if you put on those nostalgia glasses and buckle up for the ride, I wouldn’t think you would regret seeing this movie in the theater – especially if that’s where you saw ID4 for the first time.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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