I enjoyed the goofy, funny, balls-out alien invasion movie that was Independence Day (1996). The film was dumber than a stoned golden retriever in a Harvard calculus class, but Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and, yes, Randy Quaid made the grandiose stupidity somewhat of a blast.
Two decades after the original, Independence Day: Resurgence finally arrives, without Smith, who probably didn’t think the check was big enough, and Quaid, who has gone more bonkers than his deeply disturbed Independence Day character. Quaid’s character actually died in the original after flying a plane up an alien ship’s bunghole.
While the original was a stupid blast, the sequel is the equivalent of a nasty two-hour alien fart.
Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Brent Spiner return for alien nonsense that is fast paced yet dull, and utterly void of laughs. It’s evident in the first 10 minutes that the movie will somehow manage to be lethargic even though the editing is frantic, and lots of things are exploding. Returning director Roland Emmerich is clearly not on his disaster-epic game.
In the wake of that late 1990s invasion, Earth has stolen some alien technology and built a weapons defense system on the moon. The Queen Alien, an entity basically stolen from James Cameron’s Aliens, sees Pullman’s President Whitmore rallying the troops during the original invasion on her Universe DirecTV, and gets pissed off. She sets her controls for Earth, where its residents and now President Langford (Sela Ward) are going to pay dearly for the time Will Smith sucker punched an alien in the face.
Pullman’s Whitmore, now adorned with a David Letterman retirement beard, is having visions of the next invasion in his sleep. Goldblum’s David Levinson is traveling the Earth as some sort of watchdog for peace. Actually, I didn’t really know what Goldblum’s character was doing, other than acting all Jeff Goldblum-y when the alien shit hit the fan.
Smith’s character has been killed off, replaced in the franchise by his character’s son, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), from the original. Liam Hemsworth, a.k.a. King Dullard, shows up as a reckless pilot designated to moon duty, while Maika Monroe of It Follows fame plays his Earthbound fighter pilot fiancée, who is also the daughter of former President Whitmore. So, you see, everybody ties together, in a lame, unoriginal, inexpensive sort of way. Good thing they saved all that Will Smith money. They got themselves three real powerhouses for that rescinded paycheck.
Turns out Spiner’s Dr. Brakish Okun didn’t die after all in the first flick. He just wound up in a coma, which he wakes from 20 years later. He’s supposed to provide the film’s comic relief, but he just runs around yelling and smiling a lot. He provides not a chuckle in this affair and probably would’ve done the movie a favor by staying asleep.
Judd Hirsch tries to pick up the comedic slack by reprising his role as Goldblum’s dad, this time saddled with a bunch of ragtag kids who seem like a subplot from another movie. Or perhaps a failed pilot on the Syfy Channel? Judd and the Apocalypse Kids: A kooky grandpa takes a bunch of orphaned kids on a school bus trip, where they learn about life, love and evading aliens.
Taking over as president, Sela Ward’s sole purpose in this movie is to order useless military strikes with dramatically overacted conviction. (Her last line is a howler.) Pullman’s Whitmore eventually snaps out of his mad stupor to get a shave, throw aside his cane—apparently, that beard was really slowing him down—and fly a plane into an alien ship’s butthole, like everybody does in Independence Day movies.
Let it be said that Randy Quaid managed to fly a fighter plane into an alien ship’s butthole with far more aplomb than Pullman. If anybody can make flying into an alien ship’s butthole a lackluster, rote affair, it’s Bill Pullman.
The film delivers a big “We’re gonna have a sequel!” type line at the end, but let’s all join hands and go to the movie with the bikini girl and shark instead, and slaughter that particular prophecy. No more fighter jet excursions up alien ship rectums required. Over and done with!