When 20th Century Fox first announced that a sequel to 1996 sci-fi hit Independence Day was being made, it’s fair to say that the response from the masses was far from uniformly positive. After all, the cast – as well as director Roland Emmerich – are all 20 years older, and dozens of lackluster alien invasion films have come and gone from theaters since. Add to that the fact that original star Will Smith wasn’t returning, and the sequel largely inspired fan apathy. Still, there remained a loyal group of ID4 devotees that have continued to hold out hope that Emmerich could somehow recapture the winning formula that made the first film such a massive success, and make Independence Day: Resurgence a worthy follow-up. Did he? Well, according to early reviews, the answer to that question appears to be both yes and no.
While it was previously confirmed that American critics would not receive advance screenings of Resurgence – usually a bad sign for the quality of a film – critics across the pond were apparently subject to no such restriction, and have begun posting the first crop of reviews for the sequel online.
With 13 reviews currently counted, ID4 part 2 has so far earned a 54 percent on popular aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, an almost even split between those who liked the film and those who didn’t. The general sentiment seems to be that Resurgence is a visually impressive, if cheesy, shallow popcorn spectacle, and the main difference between those who gave the film a thumbs up and those who gave it a thumbs down seems to be whether that particular critic was willing to go along for the ride.
Here are a few choice excerpts from the positive side of the Resurgence review fence:
THR – Leslie Felperin
“The main thing consumers will be looking for from Resurgence is bang-for-buck entertainment, and that it delivers reasonably successfully.”
IGN – Lucy O’Brien
“A silly, cheesy, spectacle-driven blockbuster with heart, Independence Day: Resurgence is a refreshing antidote to the grim and the serious sentiment we’ve seen trending in sci-fi flicks of recent years.”
Empire – Dan Jolin
“As spectacular as you’d hope from a sequel to the 1996 planet-toaster, and as amusingly cheesy. You’ll enjoy yourself enough that you won’t even miss Will Smith.”
On the other side of the spectrum, here are some negative takes on Resurgence:
The Wrap – Jason Solomons
“While it would be foolish to say Independence Day: Resurgence lacks spectacle, scene after scene of the stuff becomes repetitive due to its victimless violence. It feels like no one ever gets hurt, despite the destruction of half the planet.”
Games Radar – Jamie Graham
“Goldblum’s Levinson sums it up while talking about the mothership sucking up whole cities from the Earth’s surface: “What goes up, must come down.” Sadly, he might have been talking about the franchise.”
CNET – Luke Lancaster
“Resurgence is exactly what you expect, down to the predictable story beats, the laughably earnest dialogue, the fundamental misunderstanding of science and the plot holes deep enough to reach Earth’s gooey delicious center. But that’s all beside the point. You should never have expected it to be anything else.”
In the end, it appears that one’s enjoyment (or lack thereof) of Independence Day: Resurgence will likely come down to what exactly they want from the film. Those simply seeking a “turn off your brain” good time filled with stuff blowing up will probably have fun with Emmerich’s bombastic sequel. On the other hand, those looking for a patriotic sci-fi spectacle as endearingly memorable as ID4 might be wise to temper their expectations before heading into the theater.
Independence Day: Resurgence invades U.S. theaters on Friday, June 24th.