Independence Day is one of the films responsible for defining the modern summer blockbuster. It was big, goofy and a lot fun, which ultimately cemented it as one of the best disaster movies of all time. Sequels weren’t quite as common when the film was initially released, but 20 years later, Hollywood is intent on reviving every single existing property. So audiences are treated to Independence Day: Resurgence, a completely unnecessary rehash that loses much of the charm of the original. It may not be as terrible as one would expect, but it’s ultimately forgettable and doesn’t even deliver any great disaster sequences that we’ve come to expect from director Roland Emmerich.

It’s been 20 years since an alien threat came to Earth and nearly wiped out the human race. Since defeating them, humans have taken the technologies that they brought and used them to ensure peace and develop space exploration. On the anniversary of the attack, scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) travels to Africa to investigate a leftover alien spacecraft that has mysteriously turned on its lights. This strange occurrence may have something to do with the arrival of a strange alien spacecraft on the surface of Mars. Levinson believes that this could be a different, more peaceful alien race, but President Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward) orders an attack on the extraterrestrials. But soon another spacecraft arrives, one that’s even more enormous than the ones that came before it. When the alien race begins to drill into the Earth’s core, Levinson is reunited with former president Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman). They and a trio of young military pilots (Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe) must work together to bring down the invaders.

The essential elements of the plot are almost identical to the original film: an alien race arrives on Earth and a group of diverse individuals from around the globe must figure out a way to defeat them. But this time, Emmerich and his co-writers seem to have taken the approach that bigger is better; instead of a dozens of large spaceships, this time the aliens arrive in a single vessel that’s 3,000-miles wide. It’s a logical way to raise the stakes, but nothing ever comes across as more intense or interesting. It’s just a lot of formulaic sci-fi action that would feel more at home in the late 90s than today. You could look at this as a welcome throwback to earlier blockbusters, but everything from the humor, to the look, to the set pieces feels incredibly dated. The only action sequence that really works is the climactic chase between the alien queen and a school bus full of kids. It’s certainly not amazing, but it at least feels different enough to stick in your mind.

Although 20th Century Fox would have probably loved to see the return of Will Smith to the sequel, they were unable to drum up the $50 million paycheck that he required. Luckily, we are treated to the return of Goldblum, Pullman and Judd Hirsch, among several others. Maybe it’s because they were introduced in the previous film, but these three actors portray the only characters worth caring about. The film introduces a younger generation of characters and while Hemsworth, Usher and Monroe give fine performances, their characters are paper-thin and generally uninteresting. The younger cast ultimately serves as an apt metaphor for Independence Day: Resurgence; it may have a massive budget and epic scale, but it doesn’t even come close to matching the fun experience of the original.

Independence Day: resurgence receives 2/4

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