Review by C.J. Bunce
Independence Day: Resurgence hit theaters in a summer full of major releases, so odds are you missed this one. Nearly the entire key cast–excluding most notably Will Smith–returned for the sequel to 1996’s surprise summer hit Independence Day: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, and even John Storey and Robert Loggia in his final role. Fans of the original and fans of Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Godzilla) and his take on the classic disaster movie will want to check out the new Blu-ray and the extensive special features available this week for the first time, which detail the planning and enormity of the special effects created for the film.
Resurgence is best if viewed as the next entry in a long cinematic history of rollicking disaster films. Think Irwin Allen’s Earthquake, Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure or more recent films where Earth’s monuments stand little chance at survival like The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and San Andreas. Independence Day: Resurgence provides an entirely new look at Earth. The setting is today, but it’s a parallel world that lays out a possible world 20 years after the defeat of an alien menace. As revealed in our review of The Art & Making of Independence Day here, Emmerich and co-creator of the original Dean Devlin pulled out all the stops in creating a big-budget special effects spectacle.
But it’s not fair to just label it only a disaster movie. Resurgence is in good company as sci-fi is concerned. With its mysterious sphere and aliens that telepathically communicate with humans we can look back to the roots of modern sci-fi films in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s critical look at what humans might do when encountering aliens evokes The Day the Earth Stood Still. And it’s look at the knee-jerk reaction of mankind to militarize and destroy with a blind eye to others we don’t understand is straight out of Starship Troopers and Ender’s Game. It doesn’t achieve the success of any one of these, but does make for a solid summer popcorn flick with a rousing soundtrack and some cutting edge visuals, and in doing so it plays much like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the direction the plot takes with Bill Pullman back as the former U.S. President and Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson, and action film staple William Fichtner taking on a key role, you can’t deny the impressive effects and these are championed in the Blu-ray special features. The special features reveal what viewers likely overlooked in the theater. You’ll find eight deleted scenes, an in-universe featurette called “The War of 1996” that provides a setting for the movie the theater version could have benefitted from. The in-universe morning show “It’s Early, Albuquerque” features Fred Armisen (the movie was filmed primarily in New Mexico). There’s a gag reel where you get to see a lot of the real Jeff Goldblum in action, and an audio commentary track with director Roland Emmerich. The documentaries cover each type of moviemaking that went into Resurgence, from a full-size moon vehicle and future fighter planes, to enormous sound stages with green-screen effects. Most interesting are conversations with Devlin and Emmerich explaining the development of the sequel, interviews with cast members from the original including the ever-animated Brent Spiner, and the dozens of technical staff members putting together such an enormous project.
Independence Day: Resurgence is available for pre-order now here at Amazon.com. 3D television owners will want to get the maximum look at the special effects with the 3D Blu-ray version. The Blu-ray editions are available everywhere this Tuesday, October 18, 2016.