Independence Day: Resurgence

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Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence is a good proof of how much entertainment cinema has changed in twenty years, but at the same time it has remained the same. A continuation of the great hit from 1996 often gives the impression of not so much a sequel but a remake – the plot is very similar, many actors return to the roles from the original, new ones replace those who were missing in the second film, specific scenes and ideas are repeated. The difference, however, lies in the implementation.

Two decades ago, witnessing an alien space invasion was associated with shock and excitement the destruction of the White House was probably the most recognizable scene in the film, not least because the residence of the American presidents explodes and literally ceases to exist in a matter of seconds. It was also about laying the groundwork for the spectacle of destruction, correct recognition of the situation by the characters in the drama, counting down to the great unknown (although the plot twist was obvious to the viewers), and finally, a masterful performance of the on-screen Armageddon, where the computer comes to the aid of practical effects. The director of both parts is Roland Emmerich, so it is easier to compare these films and see the differences between the old and the new. Unfortunately, Rebirth loses to the original at virtually every step.

Twenty years after the victory over the cosmic invader, the world has become a much safer place, where there is no room for internal disputes, but for joint actions to never allow ourselves to be defenseless victims again. Meanwhile, as it happens in sequels, the situation tends to repeat itself and the heroes of the original discover that the aliens decide to launch another attack on Earth. This time in a ship that can sweep away entire cities and oceans at once. And again, it is up to David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) whether humanity will manage to defeat the enemy and prevent it from destroying our planet.

I point to Levinson as the main character of the film, although again there are several of them. In the original, they were still present Bill Pullman as the President of the United States and Will Smith as a brave pilot. The latter was missing in the sequel. The circumstances of Steven Hiller’s death are explained very vaguely, probably in the hope that the actor will change his mind during the production of the third part. Will this be built? I don’t know, but I don’t think I would want him back. Not only because Rebirth is a disappointing film, but mainly because of passing the baton to a new generation. Hiller is replaced by his son (Jessie T. Usher), the former president Whitmore by his daughter (Maika Monroe), while Levinson’s partner in the joint action is a certain Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), and since one is childless and the other is orphaned, they constitute obvious duo. It’s a pity that all three young characters are pilots (Miss Whitmore) – it looks as if the future of the planet depended only on the ability to control modern planes, and the young actors together wanted to replace the absent Smith.

However, among the new blood there are no thinkers like the character played by Goldblum or even Pullman, which is probably why the entire audience’s eyes are focused on them again. One of the problems of the second part are the uninteresting new characters. It’s no wonder that Emmerich saves himself by introducing even the supporting characters of the first film – how else to explain the awakening from a twenty-year (!) coma of the haunted Dr. Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner) or the extensive story of Father Levinson (Judd Hirsch)? And despite all the improbability of the scenes with their participation, it is better to watch than the conflict between Hiller and Morrison. Oh, this generational change didn’t work out.

But the second Independence Day is a missed opportunity film for other reasons too. The idea of ​​people using alien technology to improve the world and build an entire defense system against another attack is intriguing and gives a lot of scope for creating reality on screen, but ultimately it comes down to presenting futuristic spaceships, guns and a base on the Moon. Emmerich and his team do not see the possibilities that such a starting point gives them, both in terms of script and visuals. They avoid questions about how the Earth is safer, how ordinary people view all the changes, whether a decision has been made for more expansive space exploration, knowing that we are not alone.

The creators promise to show us a wonderful new world, but we get nothing more than a facade built on parade pictures. Most likely on the Fourth of July.

What is more important, however, is that the spectacle itself no longer makes the same impression as it did in 1996, and not because the director lacks ideas for showing effective destruction. The scale of destruction is enormous, and the idea that the alien ship has its own gravity that turns cities upside down is wonderful. But Emmerich trusts too much in computers and pays too little attention to building drama and tension – he doesn’t let the moment resonate, quickly moving on to another demolition that, instead of delighting, becomes boring. Perhaps because Michael Bay has been showing the same thing in his Transformers for the last decade , and for other directors, disaster is easier to implement today (thanks to CGI) than it was in the days of the original Independence Day. There is no visible effort in destroying entire metropolises, which makes it difficult for us to care about the images presented to us by the German director. They look nice in the trailers, but in the finished films they are striking in their lack of heaviness and complete lack of style – every destruction of cities looks the same today.

What partially saves Emmerich’s film is its shamelessness in using cheap tricks and templates of cinema that is not afraid of its own naivety. The closer to the end, the more fun the audience gets. Perhaps the reason for this is the fact that the German director is better at exploiting familiar motifs to the point of ridiculousness – hence he does not miss the opportunity to include in his film an attempt to save a dog from a cosmic threat or the amorous courtship of Morrison’s friend towards a doe-eyed Chinese pilot.

The film is most entertaining precisely in those moments when absurdity reaches its heights and incredible coincidences become fact.

The finale really works, partly because it gives us something that was not there in the first part, but also because of its unpretentiousness and exaggeration. When an alien is concentrating all its efforts on getting a bus full of children instead of fighting the planes shooting at it, you know you’re not watching anything smart. But at the same time, it’s hard not to have fun during a scene like this.

It’s hard for me to completely write off this, let’s be honest, completely unnecessary sequel. I still remember the original as an example of an entertaining film that, although not entirely successful, wanted to surprise and make the viewer say after leaving the cinema: “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” The sequel quickly fades away, it’s too similar to today’s destruction cinema, but it has its moments. The ending opens the door to the next part, providing new cognitive opportunities for the characters, although I am afraid that it will again end with empty promises and a wasted opportunity.

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