In 1996 I went to a midnight matinee of Independence Day at the Hermitage Four off Old Hickory Boulevard near the apartments where my family lived. In a crowded theater, I sat mesmerized as every science fiction fantasy I’d ever imagined in my short life flickered into being right before my eyes. Twenty years later, my 11-year-old son buzzing in his seat beside me, I got to relive all of that excitement again. Independence Day: Resurgence was an incredible, although truthfully formulaic follow-up to the original. Let me just start out by saying that, no, there will be no MAJOR spoilers, but in order to explain the movie to you, I’m going to have to go into a couple of plot points with you. If you’re afraid that I might somehow spoil your cinematic experience, I urge you to read something else. So you’ve decided to risk it. Good for you. I promise it’ll all be worthwhile. The movie starts where you’d expect it to start after nearly two decades, preparing for the Fourth of July Celebration all around the world to commemorate the 20th anniversary of mankind’s victory over the alien scourge that tried to eradicate humanity and destroy the earth. First, inside an alien ship as the now legendary speech before the final assault at the end of the first movie is replayed via emergency beacon to another alien vessel. Meanwhile, former president Whitmore (Bill Pullman) has been left a mental and physical wreck after the War of ‘96 and spends most of his days in a medicated haze as his daughter Patty spends her days working for the current U.S. president played by Sela Ward. Whitmore and many other psychic survivors who were mind raped and used as conduits of communication by the alien menace are all having the same visions, scribbling the same cryptic alien word for fear (or enemy) on whatever surface they can find. Jump now to the moon where Liam Hemsworth is playing devil may care space pilot Jake working out the remainder of his military career as a space tug pilot. The moon is an extremely popular destination in 2016 as scientists and military officials finish a weapons platform to further the cause of global defense for that fateful (and apparently not too distant) day when the aliens strike back. Using salvaged, reverse engineered alien tech, mankind has leapt hundreds of years into the future and has seemingly effortlessly rebuilt civilization. Unfortunately, we’re still just as xenophobic and paranoid -and maybe rightly so- when a strange new alien craft appears in orbit of the moon and is promptly shot down by the brand new, alien tech space laser. Mankind collectively rejoices only to immediately have their celebration trampled on as a 3,000 mile around alien ship belonging to a race that will soon be called Harvesters enters the atmosphere and begins drilling into the earth’s mantle. As the clock counts down, one (failed) plot after another is thwarted as the human race struggles once again to survive. From assassination missions against the newly discovered Harvester Queen and plans to drop a fusion bomb inside the ship itself, the earth’s bravest and brightest struggle to stop the aliens from stealing the molten core of our planet, effectively rendering it as inert and lifeless as any other inert ball of dust swirling through the black void of space. Meanwhile, the lone survivor of the other alien ship, the one we shot down because we sort of panicked, yeah, it turns out it was the last of a peaceful race that has fought a millennia-long war against the Harvesters. Despite unbelievably advanced technology and an inborn fear of these peaceful, unnamed aliens, the Harvesters still managed to drive them to the brink of extinction. The one that was blown up over the moon had heard the same distress call that brought the Harvesters back to earth and came to evacuate as many humans as possible to their secret alien resistance planet to teach them how to rebuild and start over on a new world. Oops. Our bad. I mean, to be honest, we’ve got every reason in the universe to be a little paranoid when a giant alien spacecraft appears in our skies. I mean, when someone shows up unannounced, wrecks up the place, and leaves you holding the bag, you’re going to get jumpy. Still, total dick move to just shoot first and ask questions later. So, you want to know the rest of the story? Good. Head down to your local theater and hit up a matinee. I promise it’ll be worth the $7.50 you shell out if for no other reason than to sit in a cold, dark place in the middle of this brutal summer heat for two hours. Seriously, though, this movie had a lot of the same tone and feeling of the original. There were lots of cameos and nods to the first including a close up of the name Russell Casse, the crop dusting, anal probed fighter pilot martyr of Area 51 engraved with millions of other names on an enormous monument to the fallen from the War of ‘96 in the extremely futuristic new Washington, D.C. Also, the life-size portrait of Will Smith’s Captain Hiller in the White House. There were scenes that mimicked those from the original film from dog fights to dialogue and the return of Dr. Brakish Okun. Now, as a Trekkie and sci-fi nerd since I was a toddler, I’d like to take a moment to completely gush about the fact that they resurrected Brent Spiner’s character for this sequel. Spiner does well-meaning lunatic/genius so well that he deserves some kind of award. In this case, the return of Dr. Okun brought us some of the film’s greatest moments of comic relief and levity and saved us from being too serious the entire movie. I’m not going to lie, it’s not great. I mean, if you want a cinematic masterpiece, something worthy of awards and critical acclaim, let me just stop you now. That’s not what this is at all. There are lots of moments that either during the movie or on your drive home afterwards that are going to make you scratch your head and ask yourself “what?” when it comes to plot and story elements. It’s very formulaic and, with the exception of the technological advances they’ve made since the first encounter with the aliens, it’s basically the same as the original. There’s very little in the way of character and story development with most of the cast but for what it is, there really isn’t much need for it. Movies like Independence Day are meant to be exactly what they are: thrillers. From the old black and white B movies of the 50’s with invaders from Mars to today, the message is always the same: we will not go quietly into the night. We will not surrender without a fight. We’re going to survive. This is our…yeah, you get it. The human spirit is indomitable and, as such, makes the human race unstoppable to any threat when we put aside our own petty differences to focus on the greater good. Between the new ships, the new aliens, a giant alien monster smashing a military base, and an ending that leaves the door wide open for a future of Independence Day spinoff films this was a great watch I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Too many movies now have to be so epic, so angst-ridden and dark that even when the good guys win, you’re still left feeling sullied and dirty. Independence Day: Resurgence ended with a measure of hope and sincerity that I haven’t felt in a movie in a long time. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses John E. Meredith June 26, 2016 I will say that, when I realized that this movie was opening this weekend, there was a mixture of mild excitement and major MEH. Our local theater is a great bargain, where my girl, my step-daughter, and I can all get in to see a movie (with popcorn and drinks) for about twenty bucks. But the funds were limited this week and a movie would have meant less gas for my car – and this one just didn’t feel worth it. But, reading your review, I kinda hope that I have an extra twenty bucks come next weekend. Log in to Reply Mary Smith June 27, 2016 Josh and I paid to see the double feature. Just two words… Worth it. We saw it in 3d, it was really great. Okun steals every scene he is in. I at first didnt want to see it but it honestly blew me away. Hell, tempted to go see it again. There was enough funny moments to counter the heavy ones and enough serious to keep it from being ridiculous. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.