Independence Day: Resurgence Is Worse Than Bad, It’s Boring

Independence Day: Resurgence Is Worse Than Bad, It’s Boring

Independence Day is big, dumb and full of heart. The special effects may look a little hokey in 2016, but that’s to be expected. It’s disaster porn, but hey, it’s damn good disaster porn. The sequel, unfortunately, is a turd.

When I was younger, it didn’t take much to sell me on Independence Day. Aliens? Check. Aliens? Check. Wait, aliens? Check. My nine-year-old self didn’t need anymore convincing. Next to Jurassic Park, there wasn’t a movie I saw more times in the theatre than Independence Day.

I even had one of the film’s iconic posters, the image to the left, on my wall for… well, let’s say way too long, OK?

My obsessive youth was the ’90s, and in the past few years, it’s become Hollywood’s ripe new target for reboots and sequels. Your time will come, youngsters. Jurassic World wasn’t exactly a good movie, one that will stand the test of time, but compared to Jurassic Park III, it was a decent dinosaur flick. (My nostalgia has high standards.) I’m not sure what to make of bringing back Power Rangers, but hey, I like Elizabeth Banks? And like Jurassic Park, I’ve read about Independence Day sequels for what feels like decades. (In this case, it’s true. They really have been trying to make a sequel to Independence Day ever since it came out.)

I genuinely enjoy Independence Day. The jokes still land, the arrival of the ships still inspires a sense of dread, and now married, the scene where Whitmore says goodbye to his wife for the last time chokes me up.

For a movie about shit blowing up, the characters are shockingly well-developed. (There’s even a progressive scene where an adult dancer defends their craft!) That’s the differentiator in these movies: Are you only there for the expensive special effects? Given it’s tough to watch Independence Day for the effects now, what holds the movie together is rooting for everyone to save the day, even though you know they will.

(I still yell “Welcome to Earth” every. Single. Time.)

This is where Independence Day: Resurgence royally screws up; it doesn’t accomplish either. Resurgence makes no attempt to be more than disaster porn, and in that respect, it does little you haven’t already seen before.

Resurgence brings back many of the main players from the original movie, in addition to a slew of new ones. The story ends up servicing neither, jumping through ridiculous narrative hoops to justify their existence. You somehow end up caring less about the characters you once loved and scratching your head at why you’re supposed to invest in everyone else.

One of the original movie’s charms was how humanity outsmarted the aliens. Sure, the idea that an advanced civilisation would use our satellite system but not realise it was accidentally communicating their plans is a leap, but it felt authentic enough. The movie conveyed a sense of craftiness on humanity’s part that was endearing. (It still bothers me that the movie portrays the US as the only country with any ideas on how to fight the existential threat, a criticism the sequel does try to address.)

None of that’s in Resurgence. The humans aren’t clever, they’re lucky. They win because the plot demands the story come to an end, not because the characters earned the right to live on. To make matters worse, the final moments of Resurgence are basically an ad for a third movie.


The ending to Independence Day, however, is delightfully cheesy.

It was always going to be tough to make a sequel to Independence Day. The fun of an alien invasion movie is — surprise! — the invasion. It’s hard to make that surprising a second time, when the humans already know the aliens exist. Do I really want to see another movie where they fight the aliens on their own turf? Not really. I’d probably still go see it, though.

(Side note: I would totally watch a movie about how humanity left a bunch of tribal groups to deal with a region infested with alien refugees, the most interesting subplot the film has to offer.)

I could keep going, but the movie doesn’t deserve it. Though I’d kept expectations for Resurgence low, it still fell beneath my basement-level hopes. Sequels are rarely better than the originals, but at the very least, they can be a fun time at the movies. I should have taken a nap instead.


  • See, I don’t agree with anything here. At all. But I am getting the feeling there’s not too many people at kotaku who know how to enjoy a movie these days and take stuff way too seriously…

    • Agree 100% but not for this movie. Everyone was saying Warcraft was going to suck but I really liked it

      • Saw this the other night and personally loved it. Anyone who goes in expecting a serious movie, a logical movie or any kind of sensible flow is going to have an awful time. Independence Day has and always will be, about the absurd, the illogical and the stupid. Not a thing in it makes sense, not a thing in it is sensible or logical and imho the movie is best enjoyed in that mindset. Brent Spinder chewed up the scenery in every way possible as Dr Okun this time around. My 12 year old enjoyed it like all hell, especially the alien Queens rampage at the end I think that’s the thing to keep in mind, these are DEFINITELY summer blockbusters made for families and kids, the spectacle of which is meant to ‘wow’. Personally, I believed it achieved all that. I wouldn’t say it was a classic, but I think it stands just under its predecessor, and would easily give it a B+. But in no way would I declare it the hyperbolic trainwreck the article does, it’s simply not that bad at all.

        • Was I only one who thought Brent Spiner didn’t survive the first movie??! I was surprised to see him back in the cast – it looked like he was a goner

          • Yep. Originally Okun “died” but he was a fan favorite so they brought him back. I felt he was a fantastically fleshed out character. His revelation of being gay, his boyfriend, it came across genuine and never half arsed.

        • No you mean anyone who goes in expecting a quality film and entertainment value will not have a good time. That’s awesome that your 12 year old had a good time but for the majority this movie was garbage

      • It had issues but Warcraft kind of worked. Independence day, I walked out of when I realised I didn’t care how it ended. In my showing there was hardly any talk or laughter. I haven’t walked out ever I don’t think. God’s of Egypt was better than this. Geez. I just said that.

    • Strikes me as being a whole lot like the articles about the Warcraft movie… The first one saying it was awful, follow up article by someone else saying it wasn’t.

      Give it a few days and we’ll get an “Independence Day: Resurgence is actually pretty good.” article.

      I’m honestly kind of with you in regards to there being way too many ‘critics’ going out of their way to bitch and moan for the sake of bitching and moaning these days about movies, games, etc… On review sites it might be warranted, to a point, but it absolutely starts to just look like fishing for clicks after a time.

      • it actually took 3 weeks before we got mike’s review of warcraft and before that every single mention of the warcraft movie on the US site would have snide comments saying that the movie was terrible, which it wasnt

          • The remake though, basing off of trailers ( i know is silly) just makes the movie seem really cheap with the humor they’re going for.

            Oh your’re a black woman not being accepted by a mosh-pit . Insert black/woman joke here.

      • Probably because people read that ‘It Sucks!’ and goes “Ohhh! I wonder how bad can it be!” or something.

    • Is half the article missing? Doesn’t even explain Why it’s boring or worse than the first movie. Just kind of “take my word for it” vibe.

      This article is lazy.

      • Indeed, I got that entire vibe too. I eagerly await the counterpoint article as to why it’s not a bad movie 🙂

    • No.

      Having a discerning taste in movies and calling out creatively bankrupt garbage is not ‘taking stuff way too seriously’.

      It is possible to make an entertaining blockbuster that doesn’t treat its audience like complete morons.

      I really don’t understand the pervading attitude of Kotaku commenters that feel the need to defend the brainless drivel that many modern studios are pumping out.

      • Having a discerning taste in movies and calling out creatively bankrupt garbage is not ‘taking stuff way too seriously’.

        And how do you know I don’t? Because I enjoyed IDR? What an elitest, snobby attitude that should I enjoy a summer disaster movie, suddenly I ‘need a discerning attitude’. Get a grip.

        • Exactly, get a grip indeed. You can’t please all the people all the time. It’s Independence day. What the hell did they expect? Social commentary on xenophobia wrapped into a sci fi film? This isn’t District 9 or Elysium, this is Roland Emmerich blowing shit up. Adjust your standards!

      • Hang on, are you talking in general, or specifically in regards to ID4 vs IDR? Because really? Discerning? Have you seen the first one?

    • You took the words right out of my mouth… it dose seem to be some sort of mentality of “a remake lets jump on the trash wagon” i enjoyed my self watching id2.
      it did lag at start but so did the first movie

      i think they did a great job

    • I rewatched the original a few nights ago before seeing the sequel. They really are still pretty good. What really helped is it still used a lot of practical effects, it was before Hollywood just relied on CG for nearly all special effects.

      • I think it was the last one that used a whole heap of practical effects and miniatures getting blown to shit. I’m not sure if spending hundreds of hours making them look real just to see them blown up would be rewarding or not…

  • One of the original movie’s charms was how humanity outsmarted the aliens. Sure, the idea that an advanced civilisation would use our satellite system but not realise it was accidentally communicating their plans is a leap, but it felt authentic enough.

    Yes let’s use that example, and not the example of a computer virus that somehow interacts with alien technology to bring down their shields.

    • That’s what the aliens got for running Windows rather than using Macintoshes like real heroes do.

      • I think south park best showed what can happen when evil schemes are run using Windows. “Get Bill Gates in here!”… I bet all the real conspiracies use Linux lol.

    • Deleted scene shows they researched the crashed saucer’s computer and subsequently created the virus.

  • I thought the sequel was awesome. Sure, it was completely stupid fun, but that was the whole point. Not every movie has to have a deep plot.

    In regards to how the article treats the original film, I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I also loved that movie, but let’s face it, there was very little about it that made it any smarter compared to the sequel, it was also more just stupid entertainment than anything.

    • Exactly, one should never confuse ‘deep characterisation’ with ‘excellent actors who make characters appealing’.

  • What’s really absurd was how Indepence Day was a remake of the old War of the Worlds. My friends and I walked out with about 1/2 an hour left in the movie knowing the aliens were going to die by getting some type of virus. From the greeting the aliens, to the shields around the ships, the use of a nuclear/Atomic bomb on a city which didn’t work, it was all the same.

  • I’m still kinda annoyed May Whitman wasn’t in this, but that’s prolly my biggest complaint about this.

  • Seems that just enjoying a dumb fun movie is a lost art. Disclosure, I’ve not seen resurgence. People go into a Michael Bay movie expecting Shakespeare, people go into a movie based off a video game and set the bar at LotR. Sometimes, you simply need to sit back and watch things go boom. You are allowed to enjoy a movie that’s a bit shitty. One dimensional characters with poor writing? That’s fine. Second rate CGI that stands out like a sore thumb? Oh well.

    Hercules (with The Rock) was a great example. Sure it was a bit rubbish, but it was fun. The Hobbit series was absolute crap with a few great scenes dotted in among the long winded tirade it wound up becoming, but it still had some great characters and Smaug was amazing. Drop your nose, set your bar a bit lower and you will find things a little more enjoyable, especially if you experience it with friends. And don’t read reviews, experience it first hand, then write your review, then see what everyone else thought. Don’t go “well this guy thought it was crap and here’s why, so I’ll watch it and keep my eye out especially for those parts and ignore the rest of the spectacle and form my opinion based on only those portions and someone else’ influence”

    • I think a lot of people these days make a concentrated effort to dislike a lot of things for the sake of it, which is so fucking bizarre to me…

      So much easier to walk out of a movie going “So it was a bit rough, but was I still entertained? Yes? Well, job done then.” as opposed to, “OMG this was wrong, and this was wrong, and this bit was awful and has now ruined my entire life for having seen it!”

      • So many people treating suspension of disbelief like the Sword of Damocles. Hold it up with a thread, and if it breaks, chop the head off.

        Most modern Hollywood movies are “dumb fun”; it’s been a while since I saw a Hollywood movie that I didn’t enjoy at least somewhat, although there have been cases (The Hobbit, cough) where the movie was watchable but dreadfully insulted its source material.

  • Meh, typical internet hyperbole.

    I’m gonna see it, and I’ll most likely love it. I know it’s probably dumb. I know that it probably takes itself way too seriously. I’ve seen 2012 – a movie I fully expected to hate, but somehow, loved. I love ID4, so I’m keen!!!

    Why can’t anything just ‘be’ anymore? It either has to be amazing, or so bad, it’s good.

    Sometimes, somewhere in the middle is just fine.

    • I’ll throw myself into the fray here while you’re talking about 2012 and just add that one of my favourite so-called ‘bad’ movies is Battleship… Not sure what ‘critics’ expected walking into a movie based on a fucking board game, but I loved it.

      • I’m guessing that adding aliens to a movie about a game with no SF/fantasy elements at all ticked a lot of people off. They were hoping for a movie about a vaguely realistic sea battle and instead got something else entirely.

        I’ve never seen the movie, so I have no opinion, but you’re not the only person I’ve seen defending it.

        For most of my life I’ve regarded a really high review mark from critics as a solid mark not to see a movie. If a movie is getting 10/10 from critics, it’s probably a self-important, over-dramatical piece of Oscar bait. Noooo thank you.

        On the other hand, if it’s getting ones and threes, that’s also usually a danger sign.

      • Battleship was awesome. The jokes mostly landed, the acting was actually good, it had a great sequence with the old salts and the bad-arse WWII battleship being brought into play. Amazing sequences and really clever integration of the actual game, not that it mattered. The film was well executed, engaging, well shot and a shitload of fun. I don’t know why you would go to see Battleship, or this movie if you didn’t want action, larger than life characters and just an hour or two of well made, mindless fun. I loved District 9, I also loved 2012, and also watch anf enjoy a lot of heavy, more ‘artistic’ films, but also enjoy stuff like this. I think it is just ‘cooler’ to pick holes in things now. Sure, if I went to see a Cohen brothers film, and the dialogue was shitty, I’d be pissed, but in an action flick, I want cheese all the way.

        • I’m exactly the same. I love everything. My favourite movies go from Moon to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Once to Blade Runner, A Walk To Remember to Inside (À l’intérieur). I like my deep, thoughtful movies that stick with me for ages, and I like some good, old fluff too.

          Silent Hill got shat upon – I loved it, even as a Silent Hill fan. There’s different movies for different occasions. If It’s done, and it’s done well, then awesome.

          Saw a really awesome movie recently called ‘They Look Like People’… most would probably call it arsty-fartsy, slow and boring, but I thought it was brilliant – it did what it set out to do, and left me with a little existential crisis at the end, which is what I like out of my ‘thinking’ films.

          Can’t wait to see Warcraft and ID4:R!

  • I listened to the audiobook version, but haven’t seen the film as I thought the story and characters were very weak.

  • Watched it the day it came out and I loved it! I thought it was just as good as the first Independence Day and I’m excited for what the 3rd movie they’re hinting on.

    Also, is it just me or does Resurgence reminds me of Robotech/Macross? I mean, the whole reverse-engineering alien tech to build our own weapons to defend Earth from an alien invasion and said alien invaders has REALLY big ships that due to sheer size, just plows through our defenses easily despite our advanced reversed-engineered alien tech?

  • I loved the action scenes but the predictable character stories made it drag til the next thing blew up.

  • What is it about media today that we have to try and be so definitive over percieved quality? What does encouraging people to make uneducated assumptions get us?

  • I love the first Independence Day. I tried really hard to like this one and couldn’t. One of the main problems for me was the absence of Will Smith to be honest. Him and Jeff Goldblum where great in the first movie. And I don’t if it’s just me but it seemed like everyone out of Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher forget how to act. Especially Bill Pullman.

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