Twenty years ago, "Independence Day" came out. It became a movie event and made a superstar out of Will Smith.
"Resurgence" doesn’t quite measure up to the heights of its predecessor, but I still found it to be one of the most ridiculously, bombastically entertaining movies of the summer.
There is no Will Smith this time, but we do get Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman returning as David Levinson and former President Thomas Whitmore. Pullman’s character is suffering from visions of the aliens and believes they’re coming back. Goldblum’s Levinson is now head of the Earth Space Defense, a program that monitors extraterrestrial life. They have also used the alien technology to strengthen Earth.
In Smith’s absence, we get Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison, a pilot for the ESD. His parents were killed in the invasion of the first film, and he is also Pullman’s daughter’s fiancé. Jessie Usher stars as Smith’s stepson, all grown up and a fellow pilot himself. Sela Ward co-stars as the first female president, whose role amounts to little else except giving speeches commemorating the war of 1996. In this case, is her role prophetic or an odd coincidence?
This sequel doesn’t find time for humor before or after the resurgence of the aliens, but Judd Hirsch as Goldblum’s father does get moments, as does the returning Brent Spiner, who plays Dr. Okum, the mad scientist from the first film, awakened after being in a coma for two decades.
Director Roland Emmerich again showcases his usual OTT visual style, and he is obviously good at making things blow up. But the special effects still have a "been there, done that" feel, and they don’t have the wow factor the first film had. "Resurgence" is much more interested in giving us characters who aren’t entirely memorable and focusing on elaborate action sequences that could have fit right in "Star Wars."
Despite the flaws, the movie does develop equally intriguing plot elements that make me curious about the future of this franchise.
Even though I missed Smith, the movie works well without him and gives a couple of nods to him, so it’s not like he’s completely absent.
As a solid, well-crafted spectacle, it delivers sensationally as expected. It needs more humor and a plot with better clarity, but as a silly, fun, popcorn extravaganza, you will get your money’s worth, and that’s all you can expect.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and destruction, and for some language.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.