We always knew they were coming back. After INDEPENDENCE DAY redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global catastrophe on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens' advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.
"They like to get the landmarks!"
Nostalgia can be dangerous. It's nice to take a step back and remember the good old days of yesteryear when your favorite movies were fresh and new. Every once in awhile, it's fun to go back and breathe in those vapors, but it's important not to take in too much. Like most things in life, you can overdo it. In 2016, Hollywood officially overdosed on Nostalgia. From a remake of 'Ghostbusters' to a near mute Matt Damon in 'Jason Bourne' to a fun but flawed reunion with the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' the summer of 2016 dumped as much nostalgia onto audiences as humanly possible. Some films panned out and were halfway decent, others were woeful miscalculations that crashed and burned. While not an altogether terrible film, 'Independence Day: Resurgence' proves you can have too much of a good thing - especially when nothing new is brought to the table.
After finishing what is now my second viewing of 'Independence Day: Resurgence,' I realized how completely pointless it is for me to offer up my traditional one to three paragraph story recap. Truth be told, there is very little to recap, or at least, not very much material to make the effort worth it. As you've no doubt seen the original 1996 'Independence Day,' you're basically all caught up. 'Resurgence' is essentially the first film all over again with some little new spins on some old tropes in an effort to bridge towards future installments. It's 20 years after the first film, humanity is at peace, and we've successfully integrated alien technology into our culture. As we're building a vast interplanetary defense system, the aliens come back to harvest the earth's magnetic core to kill us all. Humanity fights back, and from there you can pretty much guess the rest.
Old friends like Jeff Goldblum's David Levinson and his dad played by Judd Hirsch are back. Bill Pullman's former President Whitmore has gone loony from his encounter with the aliens, and Brent Spiner's Dr. Okun wakes up from a coma. Even Robert Loggia drops by long enough to give everyone a hearty salute. All of these people are here to remind the audience of the good old days. They're the familiar faces we want to see at a reunion of this sort while providing a franchise handoff to the younger generation. The problem is, this younger generation doesn't really add anything to the show. They're all pretty much there to do all of the running and jumping because presumably, the original cast is now so old now they run the risk of breaking a hip.
At the front end of this show, we have Maika Monroe filling in for Mae Whitman as former President Whitmore's fighter pilot daughter Patricia. We've got Jessie T. Usher as Dylan Hiller son of Captain Steven Hiller because Will Smith didn't want to reprise his role from the first film. Then there is Liam Hemsworth as the rogue astro-pilot Jake Morrison who is in love with Patricia but at odds with Dylan because of a training accident. So, the three of them at some point are going to have to come together in order to save the day because the aliens are sending a big momma Queen alien to destroy the planet.
I will readily admit that I did actually have a bit of fun with 'Resurgence,' it was diverting destructive entertainment for a couple hours, but I can't avoid a level of cynicism when describing this thing. When you boil it down, the amount of effort it took for Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to patch up their longtime feud on top of the gargantuan budget spent on this thing, the final effort amounts to very little. There are so many story elements of character backstory bits that the show gets to be a bit confusing. For instance, there is a side story about how when the alien ships crashed in the first film there were actually survivors that humanity had to fight. That sounded like an interesting piece of information. It's a side note backstory device that explains the presence of the African warlord Umbutu played by Deobia Oparei (why he's called a warlord in an era of world peace, I can't answer). I would have loved to see a movie about a group of people left to fight these well-armed creatures with nothing more than small guns and knives. That would have been a great low-budget sequel to have seen 18 years ago when this plot was still fresh and new. Today, 'Independence Day: Resurgence' feels like the last chapter of a trilogy, rather than the beginning of a new set of films, as was obviously planned before this beast was released to theaters.
Even if this movie was a massive success, it begs the question "Where could this thing possibly go from here?" It was the same question that came up when this sequel was announced and Emmerich and Devlin's answer to big alien ships attacking earth in the first film was even bigger alien ships attack earth with a huge alien Queen commander. It's redundant watching the world get destroyed yet again because we've already seen the aliens do it once before. In the interim 20 years, Emmerich has destroyed the world again in '2012' and 'The Day After Tomorrow,' smashed New York in 'Godzilla,' and blew up the White House again in 'White House Down.' On top of that, audiences have seen the world destroyed so many times over the years - including the massive destruction featured in 20th Century Fox's own 'X-Men: Apocalypse' - that there just isn't much spectacle left with the cheeky destruction of the London Bridge. Not helping matters is the fact that it would appear as if 90% of this film was shot in front of blue screens (as Emmerich explains in his commentary) without any set pieces for the actors to work with. Any scene involving humans has a very flat and fake appearance so when the big CGI spectacle bits start flying, they rarely look amazing because everything else looks so computer manufactured already. There was just nowhere for Emmerich to go with this one and the slipshod plotting with bland one-note characters fail to reenergize this dormant franchise.
I wanted to love this movie. I wanted to be carried off back to the land of nostalgia to an era when this sort of film was fresh and fun and exciting. After reviewing Fox's Blu-ray remaster of 'Independence Day,' earlier this year, I was pumped and ready to go for 'Resurgence.' When I sat down in the theater for 'Resurgence,' I still had that hope in spite of terrible reviews. While the film is fun and I don't regret seeing it by any means, 'Resurgence' just doesn't do enough new and interesting to be successful. With four credited writers, you can feel the conflicting storylines and ideas. All of them are interesting little bits on their own, but together they form a mess of a plot.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Independence Day: Resurgence' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox in a Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, Digital HD set. Pressed onto a Region A BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in an eco-friendly 2-disc Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. Also included is an Ultraviolet Digital HD voucher slip. The disc opens with trailers for upcoming Fox releases before arriving at an animated main menu with traditional navigation options.
With 'Independence Day: Resurgence' we have one of the stranger instances of how so much digital production and processing can actually be a detriment to the overall image quality. At its heart, this transfer is fine if unremarkable digitally sourced 2.39:1 1080p transfer. Unfortunately, it's a very inconsistent image as there is an obvious attempt to hide effects shots. When the movie clearly takes place in a constructed set or an actual outdoor location, the image looks absolutely amazing. It's filled with fine details, beautiful color saturation (even if it's very teal/orange), and some amazing black levels with terrific depth. However, so much of 'Resurgence' was so obviously shot in front of blue screens, that when we go to these "fake" locations, all of the benefits of digital photography and processing are tossed out the window. In a number of scenes, the image is graded to the point that the only colors are essentially black and teal. Under these conditions, you lose all fine detail, depth, and color separation. Even when the digital set is in the daylight, the image still looks flat and lifeless and digitally stitched together as if none of the actors were even in the same scene together at times. On top of that, these digital outdoor scenes look so processed that contrast levels have been popped up to a degree that the image remains flat and the colors inorganic to the rest of the surrounding scene. Because this was how my 2D theatrical experience looked, I will have to admit that this is a faithful transfer of that image, but darn it all if it isn't one of the more unsatisfying visual experiences for such a new film. 3.5/5
Amazingly enough, the 3D presentation of 'Independence Day: Resurgence' is actually a little bit of an improvement over the 2D version in my opinion. While the image still suffers from the same loss of detail during CGI-heavy sequences and the image is still rather dark, there is now at least a sense of depth in a number of key scenes. Even during very dark moments when some of our heroes infiltrate the alien mothership (or would it be Queenship in this case?), the image actually displays some depth and distance to it. However, the caveat being that there is only just so much depth added. Whenever there are humans in front of a blue screen, the depth added only goes back along the Z-Axis to about the point where that screen starts. So sometimes that depth can look like twenty feet or as little as five feet before the background becomes the soft backdrop of out of focus people and objects. When the scene in question is entirely CGI, there is a terrific amount of depth and some nice pop out of the screen moments - especially during the alien dogfight sequence and the big climax of the movie. It's still not an amazing 3D presentation, but if I had to choose, I'd absolutely watch the 3D over the 2D just so I can appreciate where objects are in relation to one another. 3.75/5
Well, at least the English DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix for 'Independence Day: Resurgence' is a winner! From the prominent low tones to the big bang explosions to the sweeping Thomas Wander with Harald Kloser score, this audio mix is a real beast. Amazingly this wasn't pushed for ATMOS - but even still, this 7.1 track provides an incredible sense of auditory immersion. Dialogue is kept to the front/center channels when the film is calm and conversational. When the big action beats get rolling and there are explosions, laser blasts, and humans shouting nonsensical tactical orders at each other the surround effect is simply awesome. There is plenty of LFE activity going on, it's most prominent when the alien craft arrives and lands on earth, but its presence is felt throughout and is a real treat. All around, this is a clean, clear, and robust audio track that fans of the film should enjoy in their homes.
All bonus features are found on the 2D Blu-ray disc.
Audio Commentary: Director Roland Emmerich flies solo for this outing, which is a shame, because his commentary with Dean Devlin for the original 'Independence Day' was a highlight of the Laserdisc era. Here he offers up the traditional bits and pieces of how the film came together, and he does a decent job at explaining how and why they shot certain scenes the way they did.
Another Day: The Making of 'Independence Day: Resurgence' : (HD 55:25) This four-part making-of feature is actually pretty good. A bit on par for an EPK style feature at times since so much of it feels like the same three questions asked to different people, however, you get a lot of great bits from the cast and crew about making the movie. Clearly, they were all stoked to be back and making this.
Deleted Scenes: (HD 8:24) There isn't much here with these eight scenes that is groundbreaking. Some small character development bits but nothing too substantial and it's understandable why they were cut. Includes optional commentary by Director Roland Emmerich.
The War of 1996: (HD 5:11) Your standard fake news story recap to get you caught up on what happened in the previous film if you happened to be living under a rock for the last 20 years.
It's Early ABQ: (HD 3:07) This is another fake news bit but it features Fred Armisen as a morning host, so it's at least funny and watchable!
Gag Reel: (HD 6:14) Your standard cut-up material.
Concept Art: Some pretty impressive stuff here, they clearly put a lot of thought and effort into the world building, I just wish some more time had been put into realizing these concepts in the actual movie so that they felt organic. Aliens (HD 5:48), AI (HD 00:43), Humans (HD 2:58), Locations (1:33), Original Presentation Images (HD 1:28).
Theatrical Trailers: (HD 5:18)
While I didn't absolutely hate 'Independence Day: Resurgence,' I didn't love it either. What should have been a fun little return to the schlocky wonders of 20 years ago turns out to be a stumbling retread. Where the first film was an updated throwback to 1950s science fiction alien invasion flicks, 'Resurgence' is little more than an attempt at building a franchise 15 years too late to be relevant. Since 'Resurgence' did well internationally, I'm curious if a third film gets made, but I'm not holding my breath for it. 20th Century Fox brings 'Independence Day: Resurgence' to Blu-ray in a nice neat little package. The 2D image transfer suffers from too much processing during production but the 3D version offers up a little more image depth creating a more pleasing viewing experience. The audio mix kills and there is a substantial and informative package of bonus features to pick through. I may had a tough time fully enjoying this nostalgia trip, but I can't deny that I had some fun with it. This Blu-ray set should satisfy fans and for the curious, I'd say give it a look - but keep your expectations low.