A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Independence Day: Resurgence is the sequel to 1996's blockbuster alien-invasion thriller, Independence Day. Although a few actors reprise their roles (Jeff Goldbum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner), the movie mostly focuses on a younger generation of Americans who've grown up after the original movie's catastrophic events. When the aliens come back, angrier and in bigger ships than ever, there's another round of destructive, cataclysmic violence: Whole cities are destroyed, ships are blown up, and characters are killed in dire, war-like situations. Notable characters die, some in particularly upsetting ways: One plunges to her death from a helicopter, and another dies as a sacrifice for the greater cause. There's also some strong language ("s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," etc.), a little drinking, and a few kisses.
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What's the story?
INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE takes place 20 years after the original Independence Day. The world now has a unified international fleet to protect Earth from possible alien threats; a central African tribe is known for having mastered the art of hand-to-hand combat with the aliens, and the United States has imprisoned captured aliens at Area 51. But just as the planet is ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the defeat of the alien forces, Dr. David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) discovers that an even larger "queen" alien and her hive of forces is ready to attack -- and this time, the alien forces seem indestructible. But a younger generation of fighter pilots, including Capt. Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) -- the son of the now-deceased Marine pilot played by Will Smith in the original -- and his roguish rival, Lt. Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), who's engaged to Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), daughter of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman).
Is it any good?
This mediocre alien-invasion sequel isn't going to wow anyone who's seen the original, which is a true summer popcorn-flick, with quotable lines and memorable action scenes. It's not that the first Independence Day is a masterpiece by any stretch, but it's fun and loud and audiences felt invested in the various characters and storylines. Independence Day: Resurgence brings back several of the players from the original, but -- except for Goldblum's Levinson -- they aren't the main characters. Instead a group of young pilots serve as the protagonists, with Hemsworth's Jake caught up in a Top Gun-style rivalry with Usher's Dylan, while Jake's fiancee, former First Daughter Patty, worries about her aging father, who -- like many others who survived the '96 alien war -- has a psychic connection to the aliens.
The computer-generated action sequences are big and portray the same sort of mass destruction as the first film, but a movie can't survive without compelling stories and characters. It's a problem when climactic deaths and close calls don't come close to pulling an emotional punch, and the dialogue is filled with trite "we can do it" speeches and "no man left behind"-style rally cries. Younger audiences who just care about the battle sequences may find it adequate, but overall this isn't a satisfying sequel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the large-scale violence in movies like Independence Day: Resurgence. Is the impact of violence different when it's buildings falling/ships exploding than when it's up close and personal? How does media violence affect kids?
The movie is multigenerational and multicultural. How is that fitting with the story? Do you think that gives it a broader audience appeal?
Why do you think filmmakers chose to revisit this story 20 years later? Do you think the sequel lives up to expectations?
- In theaters: June 24, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2016
- Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
- Director: Roland Emmerich
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of sci-fi action and destruction, and for some language
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