Twenty years ago, Planet Earth faced its biggest challenge when there was an alien invasion from outer space which destroyed cities and critically damaged the infrastructure of the society here. However, thanks to the combined ingenuity of a collection of hardy souls the global threat was fought and eventually defeated, and the technology left over from the aliens' crashed ships was put to good use, rebuilding and advancing the possibilities of Earth to degrees unimagined before the invasion took place. But we have not been resting on our laurels, because we are well aware that there remained a civilisation out there in the universe which now harboured a huge grudge against us - and wanted to take its revenge.
Producing a sequel to a movie a couple of decades after it was a hit, and in the case of Independence Day one of the biggest successes of the nineteen-nineties, is a tricky proposition, but here we were with director and writer Roland Emmerich and producer and co-writer Dean Devlin resurrecting their most famous effort for the twenty-first century for the first in a proposed series of intergalactic adventures. However, the reaction was far from positive this time around, though to be fair there was not a consensus on the quality of the first one either, and although they took the same approach, essentially giving H.G. Wells' classic novel The War of the Worlds a redo with a starry cast, it appeared the novelty had worn off.
Where the first one had made an impression with its depiction of Americans from all walks of life uniting to save the world, here there was a more international flavour thanks to Hollywood now relying on foreign sales to a greater extent than its domestic box office, but even so a certain focus was lost. Part of this was down to the American society already representing a melting pot of ethnicities in the first one, so even overseas audiences could feel as if they were joining in with what had been a country to admire for some time, in pop culture terms that was, yet with this follow-up the scale lent a disparate quality to the plotline, or plotlines to be more precise; it featured an international cast, but unity was weirdly lacking.
It could be that Emmerich and Devlin were just going too massive, which seemed odd when taking the initial instalment into consideration, but that drew in such issues as the returning aliens nicking an idea from the second Doctor Who movie, Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 when they plan to hollow out the Earth's core for their own nefarious purposes, which was a pretty silly idea for a British B-movie back in the sixties, but none too forgivable for a would-be blockbuster in 2016, though it did provide ample demonstration of the respect this had for the low budget genre works over the major influences of science fiction from the fifties onwards. All that could be fun, yet here the strain showed in too many areas, so yes, the effects were slick, but recreating Star Wars dogfights made this look more like an overblown episode of Space: Above and Beyond.
If anyone recalls that, but you get the idea, when it was already in the shadow of a source that had been extremely derivative of alien menace sci-fi mixed with disaster flicks, there was a second hand air about Independence Day: Resurgence that took the shine of it and tended to mute the performances of a game cast. Bill Pullman returned as a shellshocked ex-President only to take the role the understandably absent Randy Quaid had in the original, Jeff Goldblum reprised his boffin persona but it looked disappointingly like shtick this time around, and the younger cast members such as Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe were unable to make much of underwritten hero types which let them down at every turn. One bright spot was Brent Spiner who was brought back to life and suggested the amusement factors available if a more assured approach had been adopted, but overall the conclusion was less celebratory that the population could band together for the common good, and more "Ho-hum, the end of the world again". Which is strange in itself, that a concept so big should ultimately seem so small. Music by Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander (ahem).