Independence Day: Resurgence | Film review – Overblown, cheesy and even sillier than before

Independence Day: Resurgence - Roland Emmerich's invading aliens return to wreak even more havoc than before. Can Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum and co keep them at bay?

Independence Day Resurgence

Overblown, cheesy and thoroughly silly, the original Independence Day reduced the White House to rubble and raised a fortune at the box office, its guiltless glee in the spectacle of mass destruction setting the template in 1996 for the blockbuster disaster movies that followed in its wake. Twenty years on, director Roland Emmerich is back with Independence Day: Resurgence, a sequel that is every bit as overblown and cheesy, and even more ludicrous than its predecessor.

Yet the new film isn’t so much a reprise of ID4 as it is a combination of tribute act and reunion tour. There are fresh faces. Liam Hemsworth is the story’s maverick fighter pilot, occupying the role of cocky hero previously occupied by the absent Will Smith. Jessie Usher is Hemsworth’s hotshot flying ace rival, the son of Smith’s ID4 hero. Maika Monroe (It Follows) is his love interest, the daughter of the first film’s gung-ho US president, and Travis Tope is his annoying sidekick.

Demonstrating that some things have moved on since 1996, Chinese model-singer-actress Angelbaby plays another fighter ace and Sela Ward is the United States’ ballsy female president.

Independence Day: Resurgence

“London comes a cropper”

Fans of the original movie, however, will be more excited by the return of some familiar faces. Jeff Goldblum’s brilliant computer whiz is back, ever vigilant for the return of the alien threat that laid waste to half the planet in 1996, and so is Bill Pullman’s former president, his mind permanently affected by extraterrestrial contact during that invasion, while Brent Spiner’s eccentric boffin has spent the intervening years in a coma.

He’s missed a good deal. Earth, it appears, has enjoyed two decades of global peace, using co-opted extraterrestrial technology to construct a forward defence base on the moon and the whizziest of spaceships and aircraft. But these imposing bulwarks count for little when the aliens return and wreak even more havoc than before. London comes a cropper, predictably, the Eye impaled by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper, Tower Bridge flattened by Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers.

Independence Day: Resurgence

“Goldblum gets the wittiest line”

Emmerich goes to town with the destruction, but he and his four fellow screenwriters clearly devoted less care to the stuff in between. The new characters are a lacklustre lot and they don’t get anything particularly snappy to say. And when these young bloods take to the air in a bid to fend off the aliens, their CGI-laden scenes of aerial combat are more confusing than breathtaking.

Fortunately, the old hands are much more engaging. Goldblum gets the film’s wittiest line (“They like to get the landmarks.”) and the action kicks up a gear in its final stages. Indeed, the film is at its most exciting when it is also at its cheesiest, with a school bus full of kids careering across the Nevada desert, alien monster in hot pursuit, as the countdown to Earth’s total annihilation ticks down towards zero.


Certificate 12A. Runtime 120 mins. Director Roland Emmerich

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