Of all the many sins Independence Day‘s stupid sequel commits, perhaps the greatest is making those of us who were kids when the original came out in 1996 wonder: was it even that great to begin with? Yes, it had Jeff Goldblum at peak neurosis and Will Smith at peak “Aw hell naw!”, and all the scenes of national landmarks being obliterated were good fun back in those innocent pre-9/11 days, but wasn’t the premise of a 1990s-era MacBook infecting an alien mothership with a computer virus, a little, well, stupid?
Answer: Duh. But that’s the magic of a good summer blockbuster. With decent enough acting, writing and visuals, the audience won’t care about the idiocy of what’s unfolding onscreen. But Independence Day: Resurgence has none of those redeeming features. Instead, we get the original cast (minus Smith) sidelined by a group of bland twentysomethings. The first half of the film is wasted on clumsy exposition, the second on tedious space dogfights. Occasionally we’re treated to glimpses of more interesting movies – a Congolese resistance group that had to keep fighting the aliens for years after their mothership exploded; a “refugee planet” populated by the invaders’ past victims. But then it’s back to Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe exchanging leaden one-liners. Even the trademark Roland Emmerich mass destruction, including a rather more definitive take on Brexit, fails to impress this time around. By the end of it all, you’re wishing the aliens would get on with it and obliterate Earth already. Alas, humanity prevails, and even leaves the door open for yet another sequel. Spoiler alert: It’ll be stupid.
Independence Day: Resurgence | Roland Emmerich (USA 2016) with Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum. Starts July 4.