Sunday, July 3, 2016

At one point during the movie, we have our intrepid heroes being chased by a giant angry alien in Cloverfield cosplay AND the alien ship "2 minutes" away from drilling completely into the molten core of the earth AND alien soldiers swarming into a room with an alien robot (that can only be called the iBall) crucial to the survival of the galaxy AND more alien fighters about to overrun the final outpost of human resistance.

Yeah. If you judge the quality of a movie by the number of "people in peril" scenes, this is

This movie is almost defiantly by-the-numbers, no trope left behind. The aliens are creepy, tentacled and in spite of developing galactic travel, no more sophisticated than grunting heavies. The heroes are square-jawed American patriots (except the requisite Chinese representation - gotta have something to market the movie in the second-largest global market) who must resolve their conflict and learn to work together before the end. Of course a mother and her newborn baby need to be rescued and of course there's a bunch of adorable kids, and of course the smallest has an equally adorable puppy and of course the puppy will have to be rescued and of course the big bad alien queen will chase them and of course some of our heroes will lose loved ones and finally, of-frigging-course the Americans Army will stare down the alien menace for a last stand but not before the American President makes a rousing speech that the rest of the world listens to while sucking their proverbial thumbs because all non-American soldiers have died or are off visiting their grannies or something. I don't know. The movie sure as hell doesn't give a hint.

I won't even try to go into the story, because there is none. The setup takes way too long to establish that, surprise, the aliens are returning for round 2. Since that's the entire premise of the movie, I don't know why we had to wait for a good 40 minutes. It's not a good sign when your audience is begging the world conquering aliens to get here already. Meanwhile, we are supposed to be invested in some pointless conflict between the two leads, but because Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher together have less charisma than a life-size cutout of Will Smith, it doesn't work.

The Fresh Prince isn't but some of the other alumni are back. Bill Pullman is now a crazy old man with PTSD who warns us that the aliens are coming. Jeff Goldblum is, well, pretty much the same. He's also warning us that the aliens are coming. Brent Spiner's crazy Dr. Brakish Okun was clearly killed off in the last film, but people loved him so even he's back with the laziest hand-waving possible. In fact, with so much of the old cast back and a gaggle of new characters, the film is a bloated mess, and if it actually had a story, it would be quite difficult to follow. Fortunately, once the aliens show up, they are divided into precisely two camps - people who shoot at the aliens and those who are shot at, so it's all good.

I don't hate Independence Day 2. It's a big, dumb movie that's fun in parts, usually when those parts are exploding all over the screen. Sure, the dialogue is as juvenile and stupid (At one point, the alien AI/Robot says it is "thousands of years more advanced") and Bill Pullman delivers another "inspirational" speech that looks and sounds as spontaneous as a cards and chocolate on Valentine's Day, but the visual effects are impressive and the performances by the old-timers are sincere. It's a fine way to kill a few hours, especially if you liked the previous movie and are ok with nostalgia carrying you through. If you didn't, though, eh, give it a miss. 

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