BY ROGER THOMAS
It is amazing how fast time passes when we are not paying attention.
If you had asked me how long ago was the release of the original “Independence Day,” I would have needed to look it up. If you told me it had been 20 years, I would have said, “Surely not.” Looking back, a lot has happened in 20 years, but it has certainly passed quickly.
The first and most important thing I can say of “Independence Day: Resurgence,” the sequel 20 years in the making, is that if you enjoyed the first one, you will more than likely find this one pleasing as well. Almost all of the original cast, except Will Smith, who has graduated to more substantial roles, are back to fight alien invaders once again. Yes, the adult actors have aged and the child characters from the first film are played by other actors. Overall, most of the characters appear one way or another.
This second film looks a lot like the first. The effects are probably better if you compared the two, but basically the effects offer much of the same. The attacking aliens are seen more in this film. The alien ship is bigger. There are some neat shots on the moon which are new. For the most part, everything on screen fits well with the first film, but there is little that is visually exceptional. It is more of the same.
The same is true with the story. Aliens come. They attack. Human forces fight back. One side or the other triumphs.
Since most of the cast returns, the audience is once again presented a few interesting characters. Jeff Goldblum as a scientist is once again very prominent. Judd Hirsh once again plays Goldblum’s father. Brent Spiner of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fame is back again as a scientist who has been in a coma for the last 20 years. The one character from the original film that is truly welcome is Bill Pullman as former President Whitmore.
In the first film, President Whitmore gives a moving speech which is the highlight of the movie. Though it is brief, Whitmore has a speech in this new film about how proud he is that the world has been united in a single cause for these last 20 years.
As I write this, I am thinking of all the stories on the news of the decision of the United Kingdom to sever ties with the European Union. How global-minded is our planet? How much should we be? President Whitmore speaks eloquently about global unity in the finest moment of the film.
As for the rest, there are many action sequences. There are some elements of romance. There are characters who sacrifice themselves for the greater good. And humor abounds often throughout the film even as Earth is on the brink of destruction.
One other weakness of the film happens early when the screenwriters are trying to offer a mystery of sorts. I, and probably everyone in the theater, saw right through it. That might have worked in 1996, but we moviegoers have gotten a lot smarter in 20 years.
If you liked the first one, and will not be offended by the fact that this 20-year-later sequel is almost a carbon copy of the original, then go and enjoy. For me, I am hopeful for the third film. Right before the end credits role, a character reveals something that sets up the next film. I personally wish the filmmakers had chased that idea with the second film, but alas, we can only hope the third one will be something completely different, and maybe even original.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.