I was thinking about starting this post about how this year was the summer of unnecessary sequel/reboot from the 80s-90s but then I realized that there were only two: Independence Day and Ghostbusters, so so much for that. That being said, Independence day does not really feel like a proper sequel to the first movie and feels more like an attempted remake.
I would probably say something about “spoiler alerts” and how I “would recommend you see the movie first” about now but this movie is extremely mediocre at best, you are not missing much by only reading my opinion and not seeing the movie.
There are some movie where you can sort of tell they had a trouble production and multiple scripts eventually merged into the final version, and the new Independence Day is one of those. To me, it felt like the script went through at least four iterations: First they had a simple sequel planned, all the major characters were there (including Will Smith) and the plot would have revolved around the second attack of the alien bad guys. It would play like the first movie, alien show up out of nowhere, our technology is useless, but hours before extinction they’ll find a solution and save the day.
Then someone came along and said: “Young adults movies are the rage now and Will smith is not doing so great, replace him with some bland young hero and kill off Will’s character!” and so they did… Then thirdly someone else said: “hey, Marvel is doing great and their film are full jokes and levity. Put in some of that instead of dramatic tension!” and so they did… and finally someone said: “This will obviously be a hit, now find a contrived way to force a sequel out of it!” and so they did…
The new characters are about as interesting to watch as drying paint and have the personality of a wooden plank. It very clear that they were doing what was originally planned to be done by Will smith’s character. There is a scene where the new guys finds themselves inside the alien mothership and escape by stealing alien space fighters. How did they manage to figure out how to use the aliens planes? As far as we know they never had any experience flying the alien’s space craft, but you know who did? Will Smith!
I know a lot of people like to diss the original movie but I happen to like it. Sure it is not a masterpiece of film making and there are a couple plot hole big enough to drive a car through but it still had some form of cohesion. Even if you knew the humans would prevail in the end, there were still some suspense and drama. The new one has neither. Any moment where suspense or seriousness could be built up in the story was immediately thrown out in favor of a “funny” quip by one of the 5 possible annoying sidekicks. It suffers from the same problem that “Age of Ultron” had, there were too many swings in the tone of the story. A scene where everyone sort sits down and think that it may be too late is always followed by either by a “fish out of the water” type of joke or a “quirky character being quirky” moment. Very annoying.
Finally there is the “hope for a sequel” subplot. It feels very out of place and rushed. Early in the film, before the actual bad alien show up, the heroes shout down an unknown alien spaceship and towards the end it is revealed to be an enemy of the bad aliens who was trying to help save man kind. It reveals that there is a planet with survivor of other planets that were attacked by the bad aliens and that the good aliens want the humans mount a counter offensive… How original…
Other than the bad script and boring characters, there isn’t a lot to say. The music is forgettable, and the special effects are as good as you can expect from a modern Hollywood blockbuster. The more I think about it, the more I feel like the special effect from the first movie where better. It had a good mix of practical effects, puppetry and CGI, while the new one only has CGI, which makes it feel lazier. I am not saying that CGI is hard to accomplish, but rather that it feels very blasé. At least we have people like JJ Abrams who still use a lot of detailed physical sets and practical effects rather than film everything against a green screen.
Conclusion: it is not a very good film but I think we all knew that already. The big question now is: can Ghostbusters do worse? because if this photo of toys already on clearance and this video of Ivan Reitman are signs of things to come, it is not looking to good.