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Movie Review

Reunions can be so awkward.

Take, for instance, the newest fracas between humanity and the aliens from the recently resurged Independence Day franchise. There hasn't been this much bad blood—some red, some slimy—since Hatfield-McCoy family camp. Last time these two species met, lives were lost. Landmarks were broken. It took all the bravery, trickery, inspiring speeches and catchphrases we could muster to defeat our unwanted extraterrestrial visitors.

But, hey, time heals all wounds, and 20 years is a long time. Sure, maybe the aliens didn't make the best first impression, but there's always room for second chances, right?

Plus, it's not like this group of aliens is coming with a strictly kill, conquer, destroy ethos like the intergalactic visitors in 1996 did. These new visitors have a much more clearly defined goal. It's simple, really: They just want Earth's molten core, their version of unleaded gas. A quick fill-up and they'll be on their way. And it's not like we use our core for anything, right? Well, except for magnetic polarity and life and stuff. But besides that, it's totally useless.

But we earthlings really treasure our molten core. You might say it's a core value of ours. If the aliens were in the mood to listen, we could point them to take, say, the core of Mercury. That planet doesn't seem to have much use for it. But clearly, the aliens are having none of it. Perhaps the destruction of all life on the surface just gives that core-stealing a little extra vavoom.

Thankfully, it's not like we've been twiddling our thumbs since the last alien invasion. We've built some pretty impressive guns since then.

So when a strange, interdimensional spaceship zaps into our solar system and hovers over the moon, we aim, fire, and BLAMMO! Alien ship blasted into itty bitty bits. Wow, that wasn't nearly as hard as the last time, was it? Now humanity can raise a collective root beer in a toast to our solar system supremacy and—

Whoops! Wrong aliens. Hope they weren't, like, friendly aliens or something.

Alas, the nasty aliens were a day or two behind, once again coordinating their new assaul—er, visit with July 4, aka Independence Day, aka the 20th anniversary of humanity's victory over them. Because while these aggressive alien interlopers may not know our languages or understand our culture or have any regard for us at all, they do have a tremendous sense of ironic timing.

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Positive Elements

"It wasn't luck last time" that saved the human race, former President Whitmore says, in full-on inspirational speech mode. "It was our resolve." And there's certainly a lot of resolvency on display here. Backed against the proverbial wall by fearsome, pitiless aliens, humanity fights back, putting every bit of courage and gumption it has on the line to show these unwelcome visitors the door.

American flyboys Jake and Dillon are particularly instrumental in the pushback, patching up their own differences to more effectively fight this fearsome foe. President Whitmore might be aging less than gracefully, but he still has enough moxie to be an inspirational leader and risk his own life for the cause. He apparently passed on his unselfish genes to his daughter, Patricia, a fine fighter pilot in her own right who uses her skills to protect the earth (and who has a fierce desire to protect her father, too). And one mustn't forget scientists David Levinson, Dr. Brakish Okun and others, who think like the dickens to outwit their galactic adversaries.

Indeed, despite the mass chaos and destruction that the aliens unleash again upon humanity, nearly everyone on the planet seems to pull together in this time of crisis. Nothing like a little alien invasion to bring out the best in people.

Spiritual Content

"Have a little faith," Julius Levinson, David Levinson's perpetually cantankerous father, tells a clutch of weeping waifs. Levinson, who's Jewish, hangs on to his. And indeed, much of the planet seems to lean—at least superficially—on divine providence. An acting president, hurriedly sworn in by placing his hand on a Bible, pleads for prayer (from people of all faiths) in a worldwide broadcast. "Whatever happens, succeed or fail, we'll face it as one," he says. Someone says, "Thank God," and means it.

Sexual Content

Dr. Okun awakens from a 20-year coma and waddles around a hospital complex in a hospital gown that gapes in the back. Through it we see his (very thin) underwear.

He's gay, and he's been tended to (the movie suggests) by his elderly partner for the last two decades. They call each other "sweetheart" and "babe." In a moment of crisis, they hold hands.

Jake and Patricia are engaged, and they were shopping for houses before the latest invasion. They kiss and hug. At one point, Patricia leaps on her (standing) boyfriend and wraps her legs around him, thrilled that he's alive. She wears a clingy tank top. We hear veiled references to sexual activities.

Violent Content

"They like to get the landmarks," David mutters, watching as an alien craft drops an uprooted skyscraper on the Tower Bridge in London. And indeed, the destruction of property is massive: Whole cities are uprooted (by the ship's on-demand gravitational force) and dropped on other cities. Planes, ships and space stations are blown up. Buildings collapse. And while audiences are not asked to think about this destruction (indeed, they're encouraged not to), the mayhem is not without human cost. The casualties for this planet-wide attack might be in the billions.

Most of the death we do see is bloodless, though—at least on the humanity side of the ledger. We rarely see any human characters die at all, with most of the sacrificial deaths (brave pilots, etc.) taking place out of range of the camera. That said, a minor character does fall to her doom (after seeing a new mother and her just-born baby to safety). A teen weeps over the loss of her boyfriend, while other kids worry about whether their parents are OK.

Aliens are sometimes dispatched with more grotesquery. One visitor, for instance, is skewered in the back of his organic "suit." The suit splits in half, spilling the alien inside on the floor like so much vomit. An alien hunter dispatches the thing by beheading it. We see versions of this played out at other points during the movie, while other aliens are simply and unceremoniously gunned down in a hail of laser bullets.

Humans are grasped and choked by alien tentacles. The extraterrestrials have some sort of telepathic connection with a handful of people, who sometimes double up in pain during critical turns in the plot.

Crude or Profane Language

The s-word is used at least four times. Jesus' name is abused about five times, while God's name is misused another half-dozen times, including once with the word "d--n." Other profanities include "a--," "b--ch," "d--n" and "h---." Julius uses the crude Yiddish put down "schmuck." Someone aims a crude hand gesture at a group of aliens.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Crew members on a boat drink heavily, thinking the end is nigh. People celebrate a victory with liquor. An assistant asks President Whitmore if he's taken his "meds."

Other Negative Elements

After a run-in with aliens, Jake asks David whether he wet his pants.

"Yeah!" David says, as if anyone in his situation would.

"Me too," Jake admits.

Conclusion

Independence Day: Resurgence is the Apatosaurus of the cinematic world: big, loud and dumb. And like an Apatosaurus, it's a film that many families might want to keep a healthy distance from as well, given its profanity, occasional sexual innuendo and staggering (if not unexpected or particularly graphic) disregard for human life.

But buried underneath all the crashed spaceships, broken buildings and problematic content, there are also some good, simple, inspiring messages to unearth.

While Resurgence leans heavily on its 21st-century bag of CGI tricks, its underlying tone feels positively old-fashioned—like a John Wayne Western or a Gary Cooper war flick where courage, creativity and resiliency are shown to be enormously positive and, perhaps, uniquely human virtues.

Armed with those character traits, even hopelessly overmatched humans can survive and even win against an overwhelming foe, as long as they don't lose their hope and faith. In Independence Day: Resurgence, love—of country, of home, of others—conquers all, even if aliens destroy much of humanity before we get that happy ending.

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Plot Summary

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Profanity/Violence

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Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison; Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson; Jessie T. Usher as Dylan Hiller; Bill Pullman as President Whitmore; Maika Monroe as Patricia Whitmore; Sela Ward as President Lanford; William Fichtner as General Adams; Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson; Brent Spiner as Dr. Brakish Okun; Patrick St. Esprit as Secretary of Defense Tanner; Vivica A. Fox as Jasmine Hiller; Angelababy as Rain Lao; Charlotte Gainsbourg as Catherine Marceaux; Deobia Oparei as Dikembe Umbutu; Nicolas Wright as Floyd Rosenberg; Travis Tope as Charlie Miller; John Storey as Dr. Isaacs

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

June 24, 2016

On Video

October 18, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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