I don't know if Roland Emmerich holds the record for most landmarks destroyed, but he's definitely in the top five.
The director has blown up the White House at least twice. He flooded New York City. He had Godzilla nest in Madison Square Garden. He visited ruin on John Cusack's career. Keep that all in mind when I say that "Independence Day: Resurgence" is Emmerich at his destructive best.
Two decades after the events of 1996's "Independence Day," humanity has come together and co-opted the alien tech salvaged from the first invading force. The world has done everything it can to prepare in case aliens ever come back.
The 20-year jump offers an opportunity for the sequel to do some interesting world-building, but that falls by the wayside as soon as the explosions start. And they start early. There's hardly a reprieve for the remainder of the 2-hour running time.
Emmerich, who was hemmed in by '90s special effects when he made the first "Independence Day," has no such restraint with "Resurgence." Everything is bigger. The sheer scale makes it a big-screen spectacle, but there's little art to it. There's also no shot as definitive as an alien mother ship obliterating the White House with a single focused beam.
It's technically and visually marvelous, butit's hard not to get a little fatigued before the big finish
. The was also little room for escalation after the initial, impressive reveals, which makes the ending feel flat.
But the real problem isn't the borderline tiresome carnage. It's the cast.
Returning characters played by Jeff Goldblum, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch manage to make hay with their screen time and inject enough enthusiasm to keep "Resurgence" from flatlining, but their efforts can't save the new cast.
After a throwaway explanation for Will Smith's notable absence, "Resurgence" largely hands over the reins to new cast members fronted by Jessie T Usher (playing the son of Smith's character) and Liam Hemsworth (not Thor, the other one).
Usher's and Hemsworth's characters spend the early parts of the movie competing over who has the bigger chip on their shoulder and the later parts shooting their way from one plot point to the next. Then, more and more characters get thrown at the screen. The movie should be commended for its diverse cast, but "Resurgence" spends so much time jumping between cameos and the horde of new faces that you never really get the chance to connect with anyone.
Everyone gets a character moment or two, but the front-and-center newcomers don't seem comfortable enough to indulge in the cheesy blockbusterness of it all. The movie suffers for it.
"Resurgence" is exactly what you expect, down to the predictable story beats, the laughably earnest dialogue, the fundamental misunderstanding of science and the plot holes deep enough to reach Earth's gooey delicious center. But that's all beside the point. You should never have expected it to be anything else.
"It's definitely bigger than the last one," quips Goldblum in the trailer. Thanks for summing that up, Jeff. The thing is, he's not wrong.