They’re baaaaack. Two decades later the aliens that Will Smith so perfectly “welcomed to Earth” have returned to finish what they started. Whether or not this sequel was necessary is a moot point. It’s here, and although unable to live up to the original, does an admirable job trying.
Considering the damage these unnamed visitors did the last time around, “Resurgence” opens with a delightfully optimistic 2016. The countries of the world are united like never before. Alien tech has been integrated into our transportation, defense, and weapons. The biggest problem on Earth now, is humanity’s arrogance. In a bit of clever writing when the deus ex machina appears early in the first act, we quickly blow it out of the sky!
“Resurgence” has a number of interesting elements such as these sprinkled throughout that gives it some unexpected freshness. Unfortunately, most of these are tied to spoilerish plot points, so must go unrevealed here. Emmerich has also cheerfully includes a number of fun homages to other classic sci-fi flicks, some more subtle than others. Jeff Goldblum reused a few lines from “Jurassic Park” in the first ID4, and now he gets a laugh with the classic “rear view mirror scene.” There are also some hard to deny parallels to “Aliens” and it’s impossible to shake the feeling that one of the characters is actually the head of Marvin from “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.”
Absolutely everything is bigger in this sequel. Everything. The sets, ships, aliens, FX, and mass extinction of Earthlings. Some of this works quite well, but as further proof of the law of diminishing returns, just making everything bigger does not make for a more epic movie. There is an element lacking here that ID4 had, perhaps simply the sense of freshness? The original also introduced us to characters we cared about, while this new round of heroes feel more like cheap knockoffs of our old friends. When familiar characters do pop up for a quick cameo, they are often swiftly dispensed with, which is especially painful after we watched them fight so hard to stay alive 20 years ago. It feels like a cheap trick to engage the audience’s latent emotions instead of creating fresh bonds with the new characters.
“Resurgence” is not a bad movie by any sense of the word, even though it has some hokey-science and eye-rolling dialogue. In fact, it is arguably one of the better summer popcorn flicks this year. But it also suffers from the same relative genericism that is currently plaguing all of the sequels, reboots, and remakes.