Independence Day is about as close to being a classic any film from the 90’s can get. It’s instantly quotable, has one of the best motivational speeches ever put to film, can be watched multiple times, and it features possibly the best landmark destruction scene of all time. It’s really a wonder it’s taken so long to get a sequel made, especially when you consider the fact that the first film made more than $817 million worldwide, and that’s in 1996. It might have taken twenty years, but here we are, with director Roland Emmerich returning, as well as actors Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, but noticeably missing is Will Smith, arguably the lead of the previous film. Still, with twenty years worth of special effects technology to replace him, maybe his absence won’t be felt.
Just like in real life, it’s been twenty years since the first Independence Day. Earth has not only recovered from the alien invasion in 1996, but things are better than ever. Not only have we taken the technology used by the aliens to further our own world, but there’s widespread peace among the human race. That is until the aliens come back, once again attacking our planet at the beginning of July.
Well, Jeff Goldblum is great, but that’s almost all of the good things (thing?) I can say about this film. It’s stuffed to breaking point with characters, most of which are completely pointless. There’s the handsome and talented pilot Liam Hemsworth, who could be so much more if only he played by the rules. There’s his buddy who’s madly in love with a Chinese pilot he’s only just met. There’s his rival and former friend who’s also the son of Will Smith’s character, who unfortunately died off screen. There’s the mentally damaged former president who everyone still loves but nobody listens to, who also has a daughter that happens to work in the White House. There’s a bunch of supposed ‘comic relief’ characters, including the scientist who just woke up from a two decade coma but knows more than anyone about what’s going on, his friend, and the man who tags along with Jeff Goldblum. There’s also Jeff Goldblum’s father, who has an adventure with a bunch of school children, and let’s not forget the African Warlord, who is somehow still a warlord despite the film stating that there’s world peace. This is a huge paragraph, and I’m sure there are more pointless characters I’ve forgotten about.
This overkill is really felt in the two hour run time, which feels a lot longer than it is, but let’s face it, nobody is going into this film looking for character development. Unfortunately, the action is not much better. Apart from the semi-decent final boss fight (I’m using a video game term because this is closer to being that than a film), and one moderately entertaining scene of destruction (one that was ruined by the trailers), there’s really nothing on offer here. Maybe it’s the lack of characters to care about, or maybe it’s Roland Emmerich having no idea how to recapture the magic that made the first Independence Day so beloved, but something here is clearly missing.
Despite what I might have already said, this film commits one even bigger sin. It has what is possibly the most heavy handed and unwarranted sequel set up in history. The dialogue in the closing scene is so on the nose and desperate to make way for another film that it was almost offensive, especially since it followed something I would never want to repeat again.
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