Has there been any single director who has so enjoyed destroying the Earth as often and as spectacularly as Roland Emmerich (Stonewall)? Of course, this was one time too many. While this long-festering sequel managed to see more of the humor in disaster, the story itself (penned by 6 writers) is bland and unaffecting. Think 2 hours of empty calories with easy answers and little surprise. I will admit there is also some good thinking about what has happened in the intervening 20 years since the first attack… but not enough was done with that to really shift my opinion.
The return of Jeff Goldblum (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Bill Pullman (American Ultra) in major roles give some solidity to the timeline. Brent Spiner (Warehouse 13), Judd Hirsch (Forever), and Maika Monroe (It Follows) provide additional continuity. But despite having some strong roles for women, such as Sela Ward (Gone Girl) as President or even Angelababy (Mojin: The Lost Legend) as another pilot, women are generally weak and always being saved by men in this story. I do understand the desire to keep the the choices a continuation of the previous movie, but it is rather disappointing given the 20 years of “progress” that have occurred in the fictional and real worlds. I won’t even touch on the twisted depiction of the only (maybe) LGBTQ relationship in the film.
Newcomers to the story are solid and relatively believe-able stock characters. Liam Hemsworth (The Dressmaker) and Jessie T. Usher as your typical “pilots with a past” and Joey King (White House Down) provide a bit of cute and a thread into a younger demographic. They are all about as believable as the rest of the story and serve it as well as can be done.
There is a clear setup for a third and final confrontation with Earth’s alien nemeses, but it isn’t likely to ever see the light of a big screen given the under-performing result of this installment. Well, I wouldn’t invest in another round if I were them. The original Independence Day is a diverting piece of kitsch, but not a great film. It is overly earnest and absurd in its science. At least Resurgence understood they needed to poke a little more fun at themselves, but it wasn’t enough to make it good.