In the days leading up to, and surrounding, the release of Independence Day: Resurgence, there has been a steady stream of disapproval heaped upon the film by critics far and wide. The film currently stands at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, and only managed to bring in $41.6 million in its first weekend, which is a far cry from its predecessor, which took in $76.9 million when adjusted for inflation. Yet despite the financial and critical signposts, I'm here today to tell you that Independence Day: Resurgence is worth a shot. Before we go any further though, let's refresh your impressions of the new sequel, by watching its trailer.
Truly, the film is definitely a trope laden mess, what with grand speeches, witty one-liners, and acts of sacrificial bravery all still reigning supreme. Yet this is one of the reasons that Independence Day: Resurgence is a fitting sequel to Independence Day, as both films indulge in a lot of the same set-pieces and schmaltz that are seen on the screen. So why is the second film better than the critics say it is? Because it's a film that not only lives up to the promise of the film that came before it, it may as well have been made in that same era.
Let's address the obvious elephant in the room, before we start in on the whole circus: Independence Day was a pretty big damned deal in 1996. Its visual effects were hailed as making Star Wars look like a B-movie. It had a cast of excellent character actors and up-and-coming talent that all coalesced into a sci-fi film that recalled the 50's era of sci-fi, while mixing it in with an Irwin Allen sort of disaster angle. Most importantly, it was an unabashedly fun film, in a time when that sort of thing was still in style. In case you needed a reminder, let Bill Pullman's famous speech from the war of 1996 remind you of how the original became the highest grossing film of 1996.
Fast forward 20 years into the future, and your modern audience is expecting Independence Day: Resurgence to fit two different molds: they want it to live up to the quality of the original, while at the same time embracing the modern style of blockbuster. That's a tall order to fill, but in some respects Independence Day: Resurgence gets to be a little darker than its predecessor. President Whitmore is reduced to a "crazy old man" in the beginning of the picture, and the world is definitely a bitterer, guarded place when an alien probe crosses through a wormhole to our side of the universe. But other than those touches, the Roland Emmerich sequel actually matches its predecessor better in its tonal balance than most would think.
Independence Day: Resurgence is the film that would have been made if it was produced in 1997, only a year after the original took the world by storm. Sure, after being exposed to 20 years of blockbuster evolution, the long awaited sequel isn't as much of a slam dunk as people were hoping. But at the same time, it's pretty much the sequel one should expect after finishing a triumphant viewing of Independence Day. There are so many jokes it's hard to look at the film too seriously, there's a corny love story that sure as hell doesn't track with modern social progress, and you're either going to love or hate Brent Spiner's eccentric schtick that permeates the film's story. But if you can remember what you actually liked about Independence Day, then consider this film for what it truly is: a throwback to the sci-fi of the past, much in the way Independence Day was a throwback to the sci-fi of old.
The best thing that anyone can do is watch Independence Day again, as it could be assumed that most of the audience who saw Independence Day: Resurgence haven't done so. Once you've jogged your memories of the original, that is the time that you should be seeing its follow-up. With the right mindset, Independence Day: Resurgence is a fun summer afternoon at the movies, and in the end, that's all it was aspiring to be. Allow yourself to travel back in time for 2 hours, and you may find yourself enjoying this film more than you expected. I know I did.