By Joseph Walter
"Resurgence" is the long-awaited failure of a follow-up to the bonafide American classic (and only film ever to be considered "Final Rumpus," the highest rating on the Rumpus Scale), "Independence Day," or, more commonly known by the inexplicable acronym, "ID4." Fate is a cruel mistress, so it seems only fitting that "Resurgence" lacks even the Soul of Rumpus (the pre-requisite required for consideration on the Rumpus Scale.)
In fact, in a highly unexpected turn of events, "Resurgence" manages to be the polar opposite of many of "Independence Day's" stand-out features.
Rolland Emmerich takes some of the worst elements from his worst flops (such as "2012" and "The Day After Tomorrow") and inexplicably shoves them into ID42, instead of relying on the greatest elements from his greatest hits. These foibles include an over-indulgence on gaudy CG, and, most egregiously in this case, an enormous cast of pointless, obnoxious one-dimensional characters that you're expected to care about, but can't manage to pass a bowel movement over instead. Instead of focusing on a smaller fleshed out cast, featured in the likes of, I don't know, Independence Day, we're treated to characters that should have been scrubbed out in the second draft. In fact, some of them are so unbelievably grating and meaningless, that I can't even recall their names or intended purpose. For example, there is some insurance agent or financial advisor that follows Goldblum around for almost the entirety of the movie, and I can't even make up a reason as to why.
The majority of the acting is awful, particular from the young "stars" that inhabit the obnoxious roles of the lead characters. Leading the pack of ineptitude is, of course, the lesser Hemsworth, who was seemingly only cast "because he [was] cute" (according to my Mom). Only two of the newcomers are worth mentioning, one being doctor guy, who gave an enjoyable, endearing performance, and African guy, who managed to be the only third tier character to have any more than a single dimension. As for the returning crew, Jeff Goldblum does the best he can with the toilet paper script he was given, as does a shaken Bill Pullman. Judd Hirsch, sadly, is utterly wasted and abused as laugh-less "comic relief," and is saddled with a troupe of heinous kid actors. On the flip side, Brent Spiner offers a surreal performance that, while not exactly meshing with the rest of the film, is somehow profoundly entertaining.
Two extremely unusual issues plaguing the cast, both returning and new, is that deliveries tend to be aloof. No one seems to really understand what they're looking at or what they should be caring about at any point. Even worse is the entire attitude of the writing. Earth is facing an apocalyptic arrival of an alien mothership that is 3000 miles long, and the best they can do is move this devastating news to the ticker on the bottom of your regularly scheduled programming. Relatedly, an alien ship is destroyed early on the in the film, and Jeff Goldblum wants to investigate the wreckage. Sounds reasonable, right? Especially after anxiously awaiting the return of humanity's greatest enemies. But woah, hold on a second there, Mr. Goldblum. We have to wrap-up our Fourth of July Ceremony first, so just go have a seat. Yes, a character actually says that investigating this alien wreck that they just shot down is less important than following through with a banal political event. In fact, throughout the pure-armaggedon events of the movie, hardly any character reacts with any shock, depression or anger in regards to the threat. It can't be possible that everyone is super-jaded after the events of the first movie 20 years ago, can it? I'm serious: Can that be possible? I mean, they even wait to do long countdowns for all their super-weapons (which results in horrible failures). Don't you think that an encroaching death machine that spells certain doom for the human race means that you can skip the formalities and just shoot the titanic ship?
Legendarily, the first movie featured outstanding miniatures, models and special effects sequences that hold up to this very day as an extremely impressive example of what physical effects can pull off. Fittingly, ID42's almost-entirely digital suite of effects fails to illicit any kind of emotional impact. While the singular sequence of wide-spread devastation brought on by the arrival of the impossibly-massive Alien Harvester ship managed to be thrilling, the ferocious dogfights that populate the majority of the film look and feel hollow. The aliens in the first film, in their practical glory, were one of the highlights, and their CG renditions behave unnaturally, with amateurish animation that fails to deliver a sense of mass along with unimpressive matting, which is a huge shame.
And the music... my God, the music. Why. What were they thinking. Unlike David Arnold's memorably patriotic anthems and threatening alien themes in the first film, we're given cheap, anonymous, dollar-store styled knock-off themes that die off before they even fully enter your eardrum. Once or twice you'll hear the familiar ID4 theme, but it's more of an agonizing tease than a nostalgic triumph. To illustrate just how primitive the new themes are, I just want to point out that the menacing Alien theme from the first movie contains a drum beat that is Morse Code for "D-I-E." You won't be finding anything like that in the aural soundscape of "Resurgence." Not even anything close.
Then there's the story which, to be fair, is a surprisingly interesting idea. We have an Earth that is armed to the teeth with alien weaponry after surviving the arrival of the hostile extraterrestrials twenty years ago. Weapons that once destroyed cities are now aimed at the stars for protection against any unwanted xenoforces. Our fighter jets are now equipped with anti-gravity fusion cores and plasma weapons. The governments of the planet work in perfect harmony, ever-vigilant to the threat of an extraterrestrial attack. Of course, that attack does arrive and there is plenty of pew-pew. But like, how does one mess this up? I've seen the film and legitimately have no understanding on how all the pieces were there, just not in place, so they decided to throw the puzzle in the garbage. To see such a fantastic sequel premise flushed down the toilet was painful.
Perhaps the most disappointing element is that "Resurgence" sets up a very interesting future sequel that we'll likely never get due to its horrible turn-out in both its final product and box office returns.
In the end, this misguided sequel somehow misses the point of its predecessor and fails to hit each and every note that a sequel should. Instead, it actively avoided what audiences would want to see, and I honestly couldn't tell you why.
Actually, I blame it on the lesser Hemsworth. No, I take that back: I blame it on the Hemsworths, period.