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Independence Day Resurgence review: It makes you pine for Imperial Rule

Independence Day Resurgence review: Roland Emmerich returns to destroy the world, and he’s joined by Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Maika Monroe and lots of loud noise.

movie reviews Updated: Jun 24, 2016 17:29 IST
Rohan Naahar
Independence Day Resurgence: Two knuckleheaded species collide until one gets tired.
Independence Day Resurgence: Two knuckleheaded species collide until one gets tired.

Independence Day: Resurgence
Director - Roland Emmerich
Cast - Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Maika Monroe, Judd Hirsch, Jesse Usher, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Rating - 2/5

Independence Day: Resurgence ends on a terrifying thought. No, it has nothing to do with angry aliens or inept humans like the movie’s 2 hours will have you believe. But in its final moments, it gives the impression that director Roland Emmerich, sensing the inevitable global apocalypse that will be brought on by a Donald Trump presidency, got the narcissistic walking wig on the hotline, bent over in complete submission and swore his allegiance.

The film takes a turn from which there is no coming back – it makes us, or at least ponders the possibility of making us, the perennial victims of alien invasions, the invaders.

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Now this is by no means a novel notion. Avatar did it a few years ago, and even Emmerich’s 1994 film Stargate flirted with a similar plot. But Resurgence does it with such fist-pumping jingoism, such blind machismo, that it’s difficult to ignore the parallels with what’s happening around us. Even in our escapist fantasies, we’ve become the aggressors.

Films, more specifically Hollywood blockbusters, have always been a reactionary medium. Depending on the times they arrive in – the emptiness after WW2, the paranoia of the Cold War, or the disillusionment after Vietnam – they can make poignant statements. It’s safe to say that right now, we’re in a post 9/11 state of terror.

‘90s cheese, with modern excess.

Resurgence is a devastatingly dumb film. It makes the similarly 9/11-themed politics of Man of Steel seem profoundly progressive. Where that film tried to humanise an alien, Emmerich and his team of six writers (a recipe for a disaster if there ever was one) clearly took the satire of Team America: World Police as obvious fact.

So let’s take a moment and talk about those tragically incompetent aliens. We always knew they were coming back. We had 20 years to prepare. But as the tagline helpfully reminds us, so did they. Now, I know: An Independence Day sequel that missed the boat by 20 years is hardly a movie to find logic in - it is, after all a movie in which the Burj Khalifa spears London in the Thames. But when both sides’ strategies consist exclusively of shooting at each other, with the exact same weapons (we’ve utilised the stray alien tech they left behind from ’96) and varying degrees of enthusiasm, it can all get a little tedious.

Think about all the things you liked about the first film and it’s worse in this one: Jeff Goldblum is at his least Jeff Goldblumiest, a reprise of Bill Pullman’s speech never arrives, Will Smith is missing because he refused to return – which is admirable for an actor who said ‘yes’ to Wild Wild West and After Earth – and Randy Quaid is dead. But at least they retained some of that classic mothership imagery and destroyed landmarks because that’s what everyone really wants, isn’t it?

Just like Quentin Tarantino with feet and Nicolas Winding Refn with hands, Roland Emmerich too has a fetish. He likes to blow stuff up. Here he gives the impression that he spent the entire two hours of the atrocious 2012 movie Battleship going “I could’ve done that”. And that’s what he does.

Read: Why Independence Day Resurgence destroyed the world but left India alone

To be fair, Emmerich is one of the better blockbuster filmmakers working right now. Say what you will, but the original Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and even White House Down were all enjoyable. In fact, his best film is the quiet Shakespearean thriller Anonymous. But save for a few moments of awe, Resurgence has nothing worthwhile to offer. The humans, led by Liam Hemsworth, barely register.

The dialogue in this film is terrible. The standard quips and friendly banter is delivered with the emotion of a stationary rock.

This is the kind of film everyone watches, which should ideally be an indication for them to try harder. These films are guilty pleasures and cheat days after you’ve seen all your Revenants and Fellinis. But like that pizza you devour after displaying months of agonising restraint, it’s going to make you really, really sick.

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The author tweets @NaaharRohan