Twenty years is indeed a long time. Besides the fact that you age and become a bit wiser, there are a lot of things that undergo a drastic change. Cinematic sensibilities, which change and refine, is one of them.
When Roland Emmerich, who directed the flawed but entertaining 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, decided to bring the world under another alien apocalyptic attack, the changed cinematic tastes of people seemed to be one of the things he failed to pay heed to. The 1996 alien vs humans (or the US to be precise) thriller had a few things working in its favour then; one was a whiff of novelty. Many disaster films that followed, although not strictly dealing with alien attacks, with massive mayhem and destruction, satiated the audience's craving to see things blowing up or flowing down. Slowly, the fascination for these flicks, where plot and performances take a backseat, began to wane.
Or maybe not. Maybe nothing has changed yet. Maybe there are those still enamoured by the possibility of an alien attack, and swear by the ability of the US to defend the world. It is to this enthusiastic lot that Emmerich dishes out the sequel to the Independence Day.
Independence Day: Resurgence, starring Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher and Maika Monroe besides Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner reprising their roles, does not try to deviate from the path tread by its predecessor. There is another alien attack, a more powerful one of course, and the onus of saving the world falls again on the US. Well, when it comes to saving the world, who else can do it better than the US, at least in Hollywood?
A lot has changed since the attack two decades ago. The US has a woman president, there is an Earth Space Defense system in place to warn of possible alien attacks and Africa continues to remain the same for the US because some of the action in the film unfolds 'somewhere in Central Africa' and the aliens, not surprisingly, have become a lot more powerful and vengeful.
There is the customary inspirational speech, inevitable sacrifice and the all-too-familiar escape from the monstrous alien. Of course, all ends well for the US and for the rest of the world. The movie appears to not take itself seriously sometimes as all that Hemsworth's Jake Morrison and Usher who plays Captain Steven Hiller's son Dylan Hiller worry while the world tumbles around them is "kicking some alien a**".
As with all disaster thrillers where performance equals increased tone of voice, this one, too, has the actors yelling at each other while managing to look all panicky. Pullman, Goldblum, Monroe and the rest of the crew pull off the saviours-of-the-world acts which require little acting.
Despite the poor script and narrative, the film is visually stunning, and Emmerich, ably assisted by cinematographer Markus Förderer, proves once again that he has certainly mastered the craft of creating onscreen chaos. The background score by Harald Kloser and Thomas Wanker suits the crushing down of the mighty towers and the cliched, tensed times.
If tumbling of towers and dividing of seas give you a cinematic orgy, maybe this isn't a disappointing fair.
Film: Independence Day: Resurgence
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner