Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
They want only one thing . . . DESTRUCTION!
Remember how nobody asked for a second Independence Day movie, and suddenly one day we all learned it was happening. Then it came out, and everyone was all just kinda "meh" about it? I mean, there was no real super bad talk of it, but not really any super good talk either. Still, I enjoy me a summer blockbuster style movie, so here it is for me to check out and gawk at. Let's dive in and check it out.
The plot here seems like the biggest thing that could be suspect here. With sequels, one usually ends up asking if it's just a cash grab or something that adds to the mythos and world of the franchise - not that it needs to in order to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Here, we do see some things advance quite a bit as far as that world goes. The technology level of the planet as the time passed actually makes sense - things look familiar and different all at once. The best example of this is the helicopters, which thanks to the gravity drives look very much like normal helicopters without the blades. It all helps create an immersive sequel environment.
I also like that we have some returning characters here. Sadly, it appears that Will Smith couldn't return for one reason or another - and his character will be missed, as thanks to his on-screen presence we received many a memorable line. The characters all act in manners that seem fitting of their settings and actions, although sometimes the acting quality can be called into question. Still, seeing old faces as it introduces in new ones is a nice way of getting the toes wet before diving in the pool.
Sadly, this very much is a sequel that benefits from you having seen the first but at the same time having seen the first also sort of detracts from the experience. It seems like a confusing statement, but let me throw out a few examples to help out. Those who have seen the first will recognize the characters that are returning, so no setup is needed there - that's a positive. There also is a gag later in the movie where an alien is punched in the face but with a much different result from the original - also something enhanced when you get the reference. Then we have moments that feel a bit just like retreads - such as the tentacle-communication scene. We then have a few moments where it just doesn't feel as impressive - such as the general's end-game prep talk compared to the president's original speech.
Beyond characters and world building, everything in here looks great. We get some neat looks at some alien fauna inside the invader's ship, and the appearance of the alien on the moon is quite the pretty thing - like something you would have seen in Interstellar, just without the added three hours of other stuff. Human costume designs aren't anything really crazy - we don't see any high-tech power suits or battle gear of the wearable kind here. We do get a few characters whose outfits stand out enough - such as a warlord whose spent his life killing the invaders - that they are recognizable, but outside of that the costumes are still rather normal or bland.
The actors, although they do a good job for the most part, do have a few members who straggle behind in chops. The addition of a literal bus-load of children doesn't really help in that regard either - they aren't all that bad, but really? It's without a doubt one of the more out-there inclusions in the movie. There's also a few characters who seem like they are shoehorned in for not much of a reason, and the movie can certainly feel like they overall just included way too many characters by the end of the movie. Largely, this isn't such a terrible thing, but by the end it means that the vast majority of them feel lacking in development because there just isn't enough screen time.
There also isn't a whole lot in here that I would necessarily call "new ideas." It's new enough for the franchise, but when you look outside of this to other science fiction - especially alien-based sci fi - you'll see quite a few things that strike an impressive resemblance to elsewhere. To avoid potential spoilers, I'd recommend you skip the rest of this paragraph and skip to after the image, and I'm making a note here that this part will be skipped in the audio section so you can't be mad at me for it there either. Good? Cause that was your last chance to avoid it. While not a direct spoiler of the plot exactly, this movie has many uncanny similarities to Aliens. Yeah, I said it. Take the threat from the first, amplify it up and give it a Queen to lead it. Make the Queen bigger and badder than the other ones. Take a bunch of humans, totally set in confidence over their superiority and readiness due to technology and gun-ho attitude and rub them in the dirt immediately to remind them their place on the food chain. This is not an exact clone though - it's still incredibly much an Independence Day movie with enough of it's own spin to make it enjoyable and not feel like a rip-off, but especially the quick jump to "Oh, they must have Queens" will evoke those thoughts for better or worse.
I'm going to say it: this movie is fun. It's enjoyable, and although currently not quite as memorable as the first, that might just be due to me having seen the first so many times. Nostalgia is like that. I may actually come back to this again later on and re-watch it - which is to say that it already stands out a bit more than the average movie. That said, it's still not the greatest movie ever seen, and won't really feel like some stand-out sleeper hit that you're surprised you never saw before. Still, for those who like actions, aliens, and a few fun lines, it seems like a great flick to roll out your popcorn for.