20 years after Earth declared its independence from alien attack, can a cast of new and returning faces once more repel an alien invasion and audience apathy?

The original Independence Day was a phenomenon. A genius advertising campaign wowed audiences with scenes of famous US landmarks being utterly destroyed, and the film itself featured fantastic (for the time) special effects and a well rounded, mostly likeable cast battling alien invasion and seemingly insurmountable odds. It even managed to keep it’s patriotic jingoism to a relative minimum when you compare it, say to the works of a certain Michael Bay.

ID4 took “disaster porn” to the next level and after attempting to destroy the world again in The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, director Roland Emmerich returns to his first, and most successful attempt, crafting an entertaining sequel that expands upon the world of the original while setting out its own stall for future instalments.

Fly Me to the Moon


The 2016 of Independence Day: Resurgence is very different to our own. Having pulled together in the face of annihilation during the “War of ’96” the nations of the world have enjoyed 20 years of unity and peace. Humanity has also made huge technological advancements after reverse reverse engineering the alien attacker’s technology with anti-gravity based vehicles every where and a manned moon base.

After a beacon from one of alien ships on Earth finally reaches its destination,however, humanity is once more faced with extinction, and it’s up to a rag-tag group of plucky (space) fighter pilots, straight laced military men, zany scientists and ex-presidents to defend the planet from this new alien threat. As in the original though, a few old age pensioners, kids and dogs are thrown in, once again to provide a slightly different perspective on events.

Space Face Off


While the first film adopted the trappings of science fiction it was mostly a disaster movie writ large with B-movie sci-fi elements. The sequel fully embraces sci-fi, building a world with cool looking technology everywhere, mysterious technological MacGuffins to be investigated, strange phenomena from to the ‘residual psychic feedback’ from the aliens and human space craft that reduce the distance from the Earth to the moon to a quick joy ride. Not to say it’s all world building as the huge cast of old and new characters it is expertly juggled along with the massive destruction audiences expect.

With such a large ensemble cast and so much action to take care of no one character really stands out, but no one is a detriment to the film. Jeff Goldblum returns as David Levinson, now director of Earth Space Defence, and delivers his usual fidgety, exasperated performance. Bill Pullman also provides a welcome familiar face as former president Whitmore, plagued by visions of the aliens and strange symbols in his dreams.

Independence Day: The Next Generation


The new cast is lead, for the most part, by Liam Hemsworth (not quite as dashing as his brother Chris) as Jake Morrison; a “Moon tug” pilot, and disgraced fighter pilot, who just happens to be former Air Force Academy classmates with the daughter of President Whitmore; Patricia (Maika Monroe) and the son of Will Smith’s character from the first movie; Dylan Hiller (Jessie Usher). Jake’s co-pilot Charlie (Travis Tope) and Chinese fighter pilot Rain (Angelababy) round out the flight-ready cast, but the film is littered with characters and stories, from William Fichtner’s high ranking general, the return of Brent Spiner’s Dr Okun, and parents Judd Hirsh and Vivica A. Fox.

All this is before we even get to the (slightly problematic) camaraderie between a government bureaucrat and the son of an African warlord or the cute friendship between two ageing scientists. The sequel rattles through its various plot lines at speed but only ever feels pacy and never rushed. The story also has plenty of mysteries, surprises and the odd fake out to keep audiences guessing as to how it will all end, all of which is hugely entertaining.

Earth Space Defense


Like humanity’s alien fighting technology, the effects have been appropriately upgraded. Sometimes though the over the top destruction when combined with the dimming that can result from 3D projection, some scenes can come off as feeling lightweight and unreal. When famous world landmarks are plucked from the earth by the invading ship’s gravity and then come crashing back down to earth, it can be a little difficult to take the carnage seriously, especially when everything is lit in fiery reds and oranges. The climax, however, with human and alien fighters squaring off against each other once more, while smaller in scale, takes place in broad daylight and ends up being far more impressive. Patrick Tatopoulos’ aliens remain just as weird and creep as they were 20 years ago.

While it provides a satisfying ending, Independence Day: Resurgence does set up some interesting elements for further sequels, very clearly signposting where they would like to go next. It’s not a cliff-hanger by any means but only time will tell if we have to wait another 20 years for the next one. Independence Day: Resurgence does it’s best to make sure that a sequel (or two) happens, prominently incorporating Chinese product placement and characters to court the market that has helped Warcraft redeem its disappointing US box office results. In the case of the product placement, this can be slightly obvious and awkward, but the addition of Angelababy to the main cast works givcing the film more international feel.

Emmerich and co have created an another enjoyable summer blockbuster and worthy sequel that is as satisfying, if not more so, than the original.

Starring: Joey King, Maika Monroe, Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox, Bill Pullman, Jessie T. Usher, William Fichtner, Brent Spiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Angelababy, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Julius

Directed by:  Roland Emmerich

Official Site here.