As a precursor to this, I will make no qualms with the fact that Independence Day is absolutely one of my favorite movies from my childhood and I was pretty excited when I heard that they were making Independence Day 2. In a lot of ways this movie totally lived up to one of my favorite movies of all time, but in some ways it totally fell short.
To begin, the original movie had a cast that was absolutely spectacular with Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Vivicia A. Fox, Randy Quaid, Judd Hirsch, Adam Baldwin and Brent Spiner in the middle of his TNG run. In 1996, this was a cast that really blew the doors off of other movies. However, the 2016 version of the movie brings back many of those some names but in some cases ten years after the height of their popularity. Plus, it replaces them with Liam Hemsworth and some smaller names. The acting didn’t take a dip, but the “cool” factor surrounding the actors in the film just wasn’t there like in the original.
The other thing that is slightly disappointing, but to no real fault of their own, is that they lost the iconic scene of the original:
That speech is one of the single greatest scenes of the ’90s. I will argue the greatness of that speech until I am blue in the face. The problem the sequel had was it never lent itself to that. Pullman gave a short dramatic speech as fighters took off again which felt more homage than it did anything else and William Fichtner as General turns President Adams gives a short one as well, but that speech above was just powerful. I remember watching it in the theatres the first time and wanting to pick up a laser gun and fighting the alien scourge myself – and this way just felt ho hum.
Another discouraging part of this movie was that with so may downed alien vessels, no one seems to be keeping an eye on them. They turned themselves on and sent an alert beacon for two days before anyone ever thinks to go see what’s up. This is a dramatic suspension of disbelief moment, but there is only so much suspension I can go with before the whole thing topples over. This was a moment where you could feel it teetering, but it recovered enough.
Finally, the other problem I think this movie had in comparison to the first one is just emotional. In the first movie, I found myself actually cheering and hoping for Fox and Smith to end up together or Goldblum and Margaret Colin to rekindle their relationship. I was legitimately saddened as I watched Pullman stand there and watch his wife die with his daughter being forced to learn her mother is dead. It provided a backdrop of emotions that truly explained everyone’s motivation to go from survival to overzealous about destroying the enemy. It was all part of the motif and we never got that in the sequel beyond Hemsworth and Maika Monroe, but that felt more contrived than it did natural.
The Final Review
With all this said, I must say that I still thought it was worth my time. It involved many of the standard sci-fi tropes with Spiner’s character more obsessed with the coolness of technology than safety, a cliffhanger that promises space travel, lots of explosions, and a coherent story line (something I contend sci-fi does well in comparison to other genres in general). I enjoyed what twenty years of CGI improvements were able to do with the aliens and the ships.
At the end of the day, it was an enjoyable sci-fi action film, it just didn’t live up to one of my favorite movies of my childhood. And since that is just an unfair thing to ask of any film, I will grade it totally independently of the original if I can. Review: B-