I wasn't sure what to expect walking into the theater last night to watch Independence Day: Resurgence. The original came out two years before I was born. I have seen it before, but it's been a realllly long time and I didn't pay much attention to it because I wasn't really interested in sci-fi at the time. It was just an old movie my mom had turned on. Still, I had the basic idea of the original. What really spiked my interest was that this movie was going to have history to it. It's not going to be one of those movies where aliens suddenly show up, trash everything, then some lucky guy (usually from/in the army) manages to blow up the mothership and they all die or leave. It has history with the aliens, and the humans had twenty years to tinker around with the alien tech and incorporate it into their lives. On a more realistic side, twenty years of development on CGI and animation gave some absolutely incredible visuals. This movie had everything I look for in a good sci-fi: an engaging plot, interesting characters (if a little stereotypical) and the aforementioned great visuals.
The story takes place on the 4th of July twenty years after the original invasion, with the President preparing a celebratory speech. It's clear how much the invasion has changed the world; technology has advanced to where humanity has strange-looking helicopter-like machines that don't have any rotors and even established bases on the moon and Saturn. In addition, the world has seen twenty years of peace. After a bit of a slow start to introduce to the characters, both new and old, the plot starts to move forward when something disturbs the rings of Saturn shortly before the new mothership makes it first appearance. Things literally erupt from here on out after the mothership lands, leading to various battles and twists, and the customary destruction that happens when aliens come to Earth (unless they're E.T.). The plot has some really interesting twists and nice bits of humor woven in, such as one character's dad popping up when his son is sharing a touching moment with a woman and says "he never told me anything about a beautiful woman in his life" before ducking out with an "I was never here." It's kind of a cliched gag, but it's still funny. There are several cliched moments in the film, but most of them have a nice spin on them that makes them slightly better. Probably my favorite thing about the plot was the fact that the aliens were given a very solid reason for coming to Earth, and for returning (besides revenge). Overall, the plot of the movie is very solid, if a touch predictable.
The characters in the movie mostly exist to move the plot along. There are some cliches here, too. Jake (played by Liam Hemsworth), for example, is a military pilot with a rebellious attitude and a tendency to disobey orders. But he's still an interesting character with a little more depth to him than I thought he would have had given my first impressions with him. At the very least, it's amusing to watch his actions and he's given some of the best lines in the movie. He also has an interesting relationship with Dylan (played by Jessie T. Usher), the son of Will Smith's character from the original movie. There's a little bit of resentment between the two; Jake is on the moon base, while Dylan is a celebrity despite both of them losing parents in the first war. Oh, and Jake almost killed Dylan in training on a bet between the two of them. But it becomes pretty clear that the two shared a close bond that never really died. The characters are generally interesting. All of them, even side characters who were only given a single line throughout the two hours were given enough care that they all feel real. Like the plot, the characters are solid overall, despite a few cliched things here and there.
The visuals...this was my favorite part of the movie. While the other aspects of the film that I've talked about have been done well, the visuals were superb. From the aliens to their ships and the mothership, to the various weapons and ships the humans used, everything looked great. Remember the clip from the trailers where the aliens pretty much wiped out London? The full scene is incredible in the theater with realistic visuals and a viewpoint that isn't just everything exploding. Another point from the trailer that the film's visuals expand on is the comment that "this one is bigger than the last one," in reference to the mothership. When they said that the ship touched down over all of the Atlantic, they meant it and showed it. Last but not least, the final battle was incredible. It was a bit of a tall order, as the fight took place in broad daylight without much cover. This could have looked bad visual-wise, but it enhanced them instead because you could see everything that much better. The visuals alone make this movie worth seeing.
Overall, this has been one of my favorite movies I've seen this year. While the plot and characters are really good, the visuals are where this movie really shines. If you liked the original, I'll say that you'll probably like this one, but I'd take that with a grain of salt. If you haven't the first one, some bits of this movie loses its significant, such as the interactions between some of the characters from the original. I think one of the most important things about this, while fairly obvious, is that this is a sequel, not a remake. And it's a good sequel. Even if you don't know anything about the original, this movie is worth watching if you're a fan of sci-fi and alien movies, as this one is pretty unique among them. And if you're wondering if they set anything up for a possible sequel...yeah, they did.
Independence Day: Resurgence is in theaters now.