I guess it was inevitable. The pursuit for every potential franchise possible has seen a number of ill-advised films pop up over the past few years. In a year where the box office has produced a surprisingly high number of duds in sequels or reboots, though, it takes something truly awful to stand out as the worst of the bunch. We’re only halfway through the year, but it’s safe to say Independence Day: Resurgence is not only the worst sequel of the year, but also the most boring action film to stumble into theaters in quite some time.
Twenty years have passed since Earth survived an alien attack. With the knowledge that Earth might be vulnerable to another attack, human technology has been mixed with alien tech in order to develop a global defense system, with the planet united in an unprecedented manner. But when the inevitable attack occurs, Earth is unprepared for the new levels of destruction they face. Only with the help of a few familiar faces, and the children of some other familiar faces, can Earth hope to survive another Independence Day.
Look, it’s not a surprise that Independence Day: Resurgence is bad. The original contributed some monumental special effects shots, and established the presence of Will Smith, Box Office Star, which allowed that film’s rather flimsy plot to get looked over by a number of fans. Twenty years later, though, the special effects that marked Independence Day are beyond commonplace, and Will Smith has opted not to return. That leaves Resurgence in the position of trying to outdo itself with some notable setbacks.
I don’t want to say they didn’t try, because there are five credited screenwriters here. But they didn’t seem to try all that hard.
The film spends half an hour introducing or reintroducing its characters, but with an ensemble this large, they’re largely introduced in a perfunctory manner, with briefly alluded-to conflicts that will either be dropped or hastily tied up before the film ends. Of the returning players, Jeff Goldblum gets the most substantial part as David Levinson, and he’s in full Goldblum mode here. It’s welcome, because it gives him something resembling life in a film largely lacking it. Otherwise, the film sticks largely with its newcomers, including Liam Hemsworth (providing a quarter of the charm of Will Smith as the lead), Jessie T. Usher (playing Will Smith’s son with roughly 0% of Smith’s charisma), and Maika Monroe (as the adult version of the First Daughter from the first movie, replacing Mae Whitman in a questionable move that at least kept the talented actress away from this disaster).
“But I don’t care about story! I want to see things blow up!” Well, at some point Roland Emmerich must have thought that the only way to top the famous “White House destruction” shot from the first film would be to drop cities from one part of the world on other cities on the other side of the globe. Or something. Because the giant alien ship, which they make sure to note is 3,000 miles in diameter, decides to suck up skyscrapers in Beijing, then almost instantly drop them on London in a move as physically destructive as Brexit is proving economically.
That’s a lot of movement, though, conveyed with no sense of a passage of time. And it’s not the most egregious example. Julius, David’s father (Judd Hirsch), is caught on a boat that he’s racing away from the gigantic spaceship, before he’s tossed ashore. A group of kids who exist just to find him…find him, and before we know it, the kids are away from the Atlantic Ocean and out near Area 51. There’s no showing of a significant passage of time. It just happens, no explanations provided.
Maybe the worst part of the film comes at the end, though. Spoilers ahead. A spherical spaceship that pops up early in the film turns out to be from a completely different alien race, and while it’s blown out of the sky by Earth, the inhabitant isn’t angry about it. She just wants Earth’s help to destroy the bad aliens and their queen, who go around destroying civilizations for their planetary molten cores. In the final scene, the alien conveys a message: she wants humanity to lead the charge against the bad aliens in a massive intergalactic battle.
Yep. Two hours to conclude with the blatant setup for another film.
Look, it’s easy to call a bad movie just that. Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t just a bad movie. It’s the worst kind of bad movie: a lazy bad movie that exists solely to generate cash. Don’t waste your money – and don’t encourage this behavior.