Back in 1996, our summer holiday season improved by leaps and bounds with the release of Independence Day. Ever since, many of us nerdy patriots have celebrated the holiday by watching the movie, celebrating the momentous day when Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith saved the world!
Twenty years later, we’ve been given the potential gift of an extension to the franchise. We all got excited when the movies got announced (that’s right, movies: if you didn’t know, there are two movies coming to round out a trilogy). We got hopeful about the prospects of what a new Independence Day could bring; inspiring speeches from Bill Pullman, iconic quotes from Will Smith, great moments that forever change the sci-fi genre of movies!
Sorry to disappoint, but Independence Day: Resurgence is not all we wanted it to be; in fact, it’s quite upsetting (I shouldn’t have to say it, but from here forward- SPOILER ALERT). Even after the first ten minutes of the film, viewers could tell that this was not going to be the exciting continuation of the iconic film that we were hoping for. The primary problem with the film was that it addressed the same basic problem as the first film. Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers aptly said in his review of the film that it, “pretends there’s new ground to cover. There isn’t.”
Sure, that might be the biggest problem with the film, but that can be overlooked! Sequels have been repeating their plots for decades and we don’t gripe over that too much (just look at franchises like Star Wars, The Hangover, and Jurassic Park). But there are plenty of more reasons why this sequel might not turn into a trilogy after all. Here are fifteen blunders in Independence Day: Resurgence.
15. They Couldn’t Get Will Smith Back
Independence Day launched Will Smith’s career, so we all totally expected him to return to the franchise when it relaunched, including director Roland Emmerich. When the actor was approached with the idea of the film, he was incredibly enthusiastic and optimistic! The trilogy was actually green-lit on the basis of the script being built around Will Smith’s character, Captain Steven Hiller, and his son working together to save the world. They only re-signed actress Vivica Fox in order to rebuild the family they’d built in the previous film!
Then, Will backed out. Why? After Earth. The father-son movie that Will Smith made with his son Jaden completely tanked and put a huge damper on both their careers. Suddenly, Will wasn’t eager to be in any sci-fi films with a strong family aspect. The films were restructured to work without him, killing his character off in a routine flight test accident.
14. Liam Hemsworth Is Not A Strong Actor
We all know Liam’s big brother, Chris, can carry a film: he’s carried the Thor franchise, and without him, Snow White and The Hunstman as well as In the Heart of the Sea and Rush wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as they were. But his younger brother Liam? Well, he has yet to prove himself – even after Independence Day: Resurgence.
We get why the studios put faith in him. He’s certainly attractive; he’s proven that as aromantic opposite in movies with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Miley Cyrus. And his acting resume has been steadily growing over the last decade, leading everyone to believe he’d soon be ready to take on a challenging role. However, he doesn’t quite have the acting chops to carry an entire movie, as this movie demanded of him. He, along with Jeff Goldblum and perhaps Bill Pullman, are the stars of the film, and he simply does not have the talent as of yet to thrive under the pressures of the role.
13. All The Fighter Pilot Scenes Are Stupidly Unbelievable
There was once a day, before the era of computer generated imaging, when things like flight scenes weren’t ridiculously simulated. There used to be stunt pilots; aerobatic flyers that would do some of the cool flying that we’d eventually see in the film. The actors playing pilots would also have some training in what it’s like to be in a cockpit; maybe time in a simulator, or adventurous actors might even get their pilot’s license. That is not what these actors did.
It’s very clear to anyone that’s ever flown a plane (or even driven a car) that these kids aren’t doing anything with these planes. They frequently watch out their side windows instead of in front of them for long periods of time, and many of their dramatic, grunting faces are so forced that you know they’re just sitting on solid ground in front of a green screen. It’s okay to use CGI, but you still have to train your actors!
12. They Kept Julius Levinson… But He Might As Well Have Died
Once the aliens return to Earth, things turn sour very quickly. Dylan Hiller watches his mother die when a building collapses and she can’t make it onto the helicopter in time. The president is ushered to a “safe” location, but of course it isn’t safe at all and she and her entire staff are quickly obliterated. David Levinson gets a call from his father, Julius, as he’s trying to sail his boat away from the landing alien ship in the Hudson bay and we’re almost certain we hear his untimely death.
Except we didn’t. Julius is fine! Never mind the fact that a boat was pretty much overturned on top of his and then thrown miles inland. Nope, he survived with a mild concussion, otherwise unscathed. As preposterous as that is, the audience is thinking, “Okay, they saved him- there had to be a good reason why, right?” NOPE. He plays babysitter to orphaned children all over the country as he leads them back to the heart of darkness, Area 51. Every time one of his scenes pop up, it’s an excuse for some moderate comedic relief (in an already laughable movie) and a reason to tune out.
11. Studios Couldn’t Hook Any Famous Actors And The Returning Actors Weren’t Box Office Draws
Of all the fresh, new actors in Hollywood that were brought in to star in the film like Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, Deobia Oparei, and Nicolas Wright, Liam Hemsworth was certainly the best known; however, as we pointed out earlier, he’s not experienced or strong enough yet to carry the pressures of this kind of trilogy on his back.
But we didn’t come to see this movie because of the new actors, did we? No one got all excited about the trilogy because “OH MY GOD, SELA WARD IS IN IT!” No! We were excited to see the actors and characters that we so admired, loved, and missed: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica Fox, Brent Spiner! Except wait, hold on…no one cares about most of those actors. Sure, Jeff Goldblum’s got a hipster fan club out there stocked full of fans of Independence Day and Jurassic Park, and even Bill Pullman might have some admirers from Casper and Spaceballs. But otherwise? None of these actors were really enough to bring in waves of fans, a serious miscalculation on the studio’s part.
10. Maika Monroe Is Pretty, But Disappointing
Maika Monroe stars in Independence Day: Resurgence as President Whitmore’s daughter, Patricia, all grown up. A fairly fresh face in Hollywood with movies like It Follows and Labor Day behind her, this movie was certainly her big break to the blockbuster film scene. She was one of the few female characters that might have been empowering and tough in the film, one of the few that had true potential! And Maika fell short of the challenge.
Don’t get us wrong- Maika is adorable. She is gorgeous, actually. But her acting was sub-par and she had one of the most demanding roles in the film. Want to know a good actress that could have handled the demands of the role? Mae Whitman, the actress who played the young version of Patricia decades ago and is still acting! Mae is adorable, still very youthful looking, and still has a popular name that could pull fans to the theater (she was recently in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The DUFF). One of their biggest mistakes was overlooking her for the role.
9. Jake And Dylan’s Relationship Was Stupidly Forced
When Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) and Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) first meet in the film, we know things are tense, though we’re unclear why. In case you’re still unclear why (a very real possibility), let’s break it down: Dylan, Jake, and Patricia (former President Whitmore’s daughter) all went to flight school together. Dylan, the son of world hero Steven Hiller, was top of his class. Jake, orphaned by the Independence Day attacks, was envious and competitive. In a training exercise, Jake made a rash decision that clipped Dylan’s wing and could have killed him; apparently the two never made up.
But WHY did they never make up? Seriously, if someone almost kills their classmate in a training exercise, they’re likely to face disciplinary action at the very least to atone for their recklessness. Furthermore, these two were best friends before the accident; Jake couldn’t suck it up and say “Sorry I almost killed you, dude?” Their strained relationship makes no sense and seems entirely forced by the writers.
8. The CGI Aliens Bordered On Creepy
In the first installment of the Independence Day trilogy, back in 1996, CGI hadn’t been advanced and developed nearly as much as it is now. Thus, most of the aliens were puppets. We’re not talking Sesame Street puppets, but elaborate, scary, well designed puppets. Even though it was rare to ever see a full-sized alien in that movie, part of the design and elusiveness of the aliens is what made them so scary.
Things have changed in this installment. We frequently see full-body shots of the aliens, and they are no puppets; they are complete CGI creations, totally done on computers. While part of that is good, part of that is really creepy. The CGI borders on life-like, which means these aliens are in this weird “part-artificial/part-real” looking realm (for those of you studying film, you may identify this realm as the Uncanny Valley). The aliens aren’t creepy for their design; they’re creepy because of the level of CGI used to make them.
7. The Younger Generation Looks WAY Too Young
By the end of Resurgence, we are (pretty bold-facedly) made to thank two groups of soldiers for saving the world a second time: the old timers, with characters like former President Whitmore, David Levison, Julius Levinson, and President Adams to thank, and the young heroes, with characters like Patricia Whitmore, Jake Morrison, Dylan Hiller, and Rain Lao to thank. Obviously, the writers wanted to draw a clear division between generations and show that the young/new generation will be the next entrusted with the safety of the world and that the older needs to have faith in them (ah, look, there was a meaning behind the movie after all).
But here’s the thing- no one would trust these children to save the world! Seriously, as we’re looking at these two groups standing across from each other (and even listening to their dialogue throughout the film), it’s clear that this young generation is totally immature, lacks accountability, and is entirely too impulsive. Plus, they all look like they’re barely 20-years-old. If the writers wanted to empower the younger generation, they might’ve made them more competent.
6. Jeff Goldblum Seemed To Think It Was A Comedy
We love Jeff Goldblum; everyone loves Jeff Goldblum. From his incredibly ridiculous and sardonic character in Jurassic Park to his fastidious and brilliant character in Independence Day, he’s always had our hearts. Though the nineties gave him a good turn in the action movie realm, he was eventually type cast for his fast-talking, mumbling characters in action flicks and began to get turned away from them. He turned to comedies instead, taking roles at first on shows like Friends, The League, and Will and Grace, and then escalating his comedy career to movies like Mortdecai and The Switch. When filming Resurgence, he must have been confused; he must’ve thought he was still in a comedy. Judging by some of his goofy faces, double takes, and general comedic reactions, he acted as if his whole character were comedic relief rather than the primary savior! However, this tacky action flick may have relaunched his more serious career, as we’ll soon see him in Thor: Ragnarok and a new Wes Anderson project.
5. The African War Lord And His Horribly Written Character
Diversity in movies is always appreciated, don’t get us wrong. All of the heroes of the last Independence Day film were white, except Will Smith. The studios and casting directors certainly made an effort to diversify the cast a little bit more this time around, casting a female president (which we’ll talk more about later) in Sela Ward, a heroine pilot in Angelababy, and a British psychologist in Charlotte Gainsbourg. But the most diverse character is certainly war lord Dikembe Umbutu, who hunts aliens with machetes.
Okay, but here’s what’s dumb: he could use super-awesome, futuristic guns to hunt them, but he uses machetes (why???); his only tip for hunting aliens, which he claims to have been doing for over a decade, is to “get them from behind” (really? That’s the best you’ve got???); and everything he says and does is horribly stereotypical. This character doesn’t do anything to help diversity in film. His end-purpose is to eventually protect a couple of white men. It’s almost offensive, really.
4. The Writing Is Terrible, And Rife With Obnoxious Exposition
As Dr. Okun lies in his hospital bed, where he has clearly been for a long time, his colleague enters the room and starts talking to him (or, rather himself): “Wow, Dr. Okun. Can you believe you’ve been in this coma for seventeen years?” HOLD UP. WE ARE NOT DOING THIS RIGHT NOW.
This is far from being the only instance of terrible, exposition writing in this movie. In fact, the first three quarters of the movie are rife with this crappy writing. For example, when at a press conference to introduce all the young pilots, they single out Dylan and elaborately ask, “What’s it like being an accomplished pilot, since your dad died in a training accident when you were still a kid?” What do those things even have to do with each other; why was that even brought up?! The attempts to explain what happened in the time that’s lapsed between movies is poorly written and portrayed even worse.
3. Dr. Okun Isn’t Dead…And His Homosexuality Is An Afterthought
Remember this character from Independence Day? Dr. Brackish Okun worked at Area 51 and was pretty much the ring leader when it came to researching how to overcome the alien race- that is, until an alien enters his mind via some telepathic connection and we think he’s killed. Surprise! He wasn’t killed (even though we were totally led to believe that he was dead). He’s just been in a coma since Steven Hiller and David Levinson saved the world. Now that the aliens have returned, he’s woken up and continued his half-lunatic antics to try to save the world.
While bringing Dr. Okun back felt like an after-thought, once they discovered they could get the actor, his sexual orientation felt like an after-after-thought. In his last scene, in which he says a tearful farewell to Dr. Isaacs, we’re led to believe that they may have once had a homosexual relationship. Cool! But also, this felt like a major after-thought; nothing else throughout the entire movie indicated that the two of them were anything more than colleagues and friends. It would’ve been cool if they’d actually committed to the decision to make the character gay.
2. It’s All About The Dudes
The first Independence Day movie was certainly all about the dudes, we all know that. The world was saved by President Whitmore (male), Dr. Okun (male), David Levinson (male), and Steven Hiller (male) back in 1996. Sure, we weren’t surprised: it was the nineties! Every action movie was all about the men saving the damsels in distress from horrors and threats galore. But nowadays? The paradigm is shifting and it’s no longer cool to have action movies all about men saving women. Women don’t want to be saved! Women want to be shown saving themselves!
Studios know they need to put more women in leading roles in films. So what did they do? They made Sela Ward president; then promptly killed her off and gave the job to a white man far down the succession chain. They gave Patricia Whitmore a cool job and awesome skill set; then kept her away from her political position and gave every heroic opportunity she could’ve had to a white man. They brought back Jasmine Hiller and gave her an important job, above stripping; then promptly killed her off. In fact, they totally screwed over every female character in this movie!
1. The Coolest Parts Of The Film Go Totally Ignored
Like we stated before, this movie does a lot of repeating the plot from the original Independence Day: aliens come with a big ship and technology far more advanced than our own with the intent to eradicate our species and we have to find a way to defeat them. Of course, there are plenty of differences beyond that, some of which are really cool; unfortunately, the writers didn’t explore any of these cool opportunities at all! For example, the US government has been keeping aliens in a prison at Area 51 since the first invasion. What have they been doing with the prisoners? Have they learned anything about their species through that prison? We don’t know- the writers didn’t care to explore or explain it. What about the natural ecosystem that exists inside the giant alien ship that the young pilots get trapped in? It looked so cool, so exciting; we were so curious to learn more about that place! But the writers didn’t explore that either. Or what about the alien hunting that’s been going on in Africa for over a decade? What did the hunters learn about the aliens? They had to learn more than just “get them from behind,” right? Again, the writers didn’t care to explore. Some of the coolest parts of this movie went completely unexplored!