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Independence Day - Resurgence: a half-baked remake disguised as a sequel

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

There have been many, many losers in this year of sequels - be it under-performers like The Divergent Series: Allegiant and X-Men: Apocalypse, or out-and-out disasters that no one wanted in the first place like The Huntsman: Winter's War and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Independence Day: Resurgence just about manages to buck that trend. It's essentially a remake disguised as a sequel, meaning it's everything you wanted it to be - destruction porn laced with nostalgia.

What it lacks sorely is the emotional punches the first had going for it - be it through an iconic presidential speech for the ages or unprecedented cinematic destruction.

'They're back'

Set 20 years after the devastating alien invasion of the first film, the alien insurgence has now become a 'resurgence'.

So they're back, bigger ship, better weapons of mass destruction and a thirst for revenge and all.

On the plus side, humanity now has access to alien technology and Las Vegas has been destroyed.

In charge of the next-gen tech is Jeff Goldblum's David Levinson. Transformed from underachieving cable technician to a tech guru, he's now the director of Earth Space Defense (ESD). He's spent the last many years working away in trying to use the alien technology to rebuild the planet, fix the environment and prepare a defence if they ever return.

Many other favourite are back: Bill Pullman's President Whitmore, Judd Hirsch's Goldblum Sr and Brent Spiner's Dr Brakish Okun (who wakes up from a coma after 7,300 days, we're specifically told).

A quick, clunky reference to Steven Hiller's death in the opening minutes explains Will Smith's absence. Hiller is replaced by his son, Dylan (Jessie T Usher) and Dylan's former best friend from the flight academy - Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth).

No replacement for Will Smith

The big call to arms this time falls to President Lanford (CS:NY's Sela Ward), America's first female president.

That's already a lot of characters to swallow, but there are more. Emmerich must have been hoping that the many famous faces would have as much charisma as Smith had 20 years ago and sadly, they just don't. Despite being part of a Star Wars-style dogfight.

Goldblum is an incredibly comforting screen presence. He's drolly laid back, even when facing ridiculously large alien spaceships as large as the Atlantic. "They like to get the landmarks," he deadpans as the Burj Khalifa gets a little too cosy with Paris.

Destruction porn at its best

When it comes to destruction and using special effects to their fullest, Emmerich shows no restraint. He knows his stuff and we've never doubted that. Everything is bigger. Louder. There's something comforting in his old school style of excess - which we haven't had the pleasure to see from him since 2012.

But even though you're basically left drowning in a spectacular sea of top-notch CGI, there aren't many memorable scenes like when the White House exploded in the 1996 film. Or when Smith punched the alien right on its big, ugly nose. Or when a rooftop full of people get incinerated.

The editing is more than a little choppy in places, almost if the movie has been cut down from a much longer version (thankfully). So even though the third act absolutely enjoyable, it gets there via some terribly clunky narrative leaps.

The verdict

Worth seeing?

If you loved the first, that's a definite yes. It's exactly what you expect, right down to the predictable story beats, the cheesy dialogue and big booms.

But don't go in expecting an improvement though, Independence Day still wins hands down over Resurgence.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5

First published: 24 June 2016, 5:43 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.