It’s been almost twenty years to the day since the aliens of 1996’s epic Independence Day came down and made a global nuisance of themselves. Fair to say a lot’s changed since then (mostly iPhones and loads of TV shows about 'real housewives’). But in the world of the movie, our people have gone even further: flying cars, moon bases and even aboveground monorails! Hybrid alien/earth technology has seen giant leaps forward in almost all facets of life, to say nothing of ushering in an unprecedented era of global peace united by the deadly horrors of the past. But then, wouldn’t you know it, the aliens come back without any notice, and - ba ba baaaa - they’re pissed.
Independence Day: Resurgence reunites pretty much the entire cast of the original film save for Will Smith (who has been unceremoniously killed off), and also introduces some newer, younger (read: ‘sexier and more marketable') faces in the form of Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, Jessie Usher and Angelababy (no, seriously).
Then it does the EXACT SAME THING AS LAST TIME.
First, aliens invade and park a giant ship where there was clearly a no parking sign, ruining several perfectly lovely cities like London and Hong Kong. Next, Earth launches a counter-attack with an impressive aerial armada, only to be completely scuttled and sent packing. Then the aliens reveal their true purpose (literally to do again what they came to do last time, exactly the same way) and - just when all hope is lost - America's remaining Presidents and Presidential siblings get into fighter plans and bring down the invaders with not a second to spare because, and we can’t stress this point enough, ‘that’s what worked last time they attacked’.
The result is an altogether dull blockbuster, assuming that’s not an oxymoron. There’s zero chemistry between any two cast members in this movie, and the battle scenes feel disappointingly familiar. It’s also one of those frustrating films where giant loopholes pull you entirely out of the moment as you find yourself almost yelling questions at the screen like: “Why are we still baffled by the alien shields if we knew they had them twenty years ago, incorporated their technology in the meantime and yet for some reason didn’t build it into our own fighters or canons?”, and “Why are we surprised by the speed of the alien planes when they’ve not changed since the last time, and why didn’t we just build planes like theirs instead of incorporating alien tech into our own planes, which are clearly inferior?” or - most importantly - “Why do we have countdowns on earth-defending weapons, which does nothing but give the aliens time to destroy them?"
Big, Dumb and Fun is almost certainly an established genre in Hollywood these days, and it’s not without its merit. Such films are, after all, ‘fun’, and can easily help while away a few hours on a rainy afternoon or throughout a long-haul flight. But when the ‘dumb’ is so overbearing that it drowns out the fun, and the ‘big’ being made ‘bigger’ represents the only substantive change from the previous film, then you're left with a massively expensive yet spectacularly hollow piece of cinema that quite simply fails to entertain. RIP, Will Smith’s character - for yours is the only one whose memory hasn’t been soiled.