Roland Emmerich directs Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe in this late to dinner sequel to a key 90s blockbuster.
Imagine you’ve been invited over to someone’s house for a beer and movie night and your host suddenly decides, just as you settle into the armchair, that he wants to watch the last four episodes of the eighth series of a sci-fi show (one you only ever gave the pilot a chance way back when) instead. That’s what buttnumber Independence Day 2 feels like as an experience. It also feels like three hours despite clocking in at 120 minutes. Characters you’ve got only vague memories of, interact over back stories you’ve clearly missed, while others are missing, been retconned, recast or replaced with facsimiles. Jeff Goldblum’s in it so it must at least be watchable? He’s a bit half arsed and only really book ends the film. Bill Pullman seems to have had some kind of stroke / breakdown in the real life interim and they’ve just wrote his returning part around that problem. The audience feels awkward whenever he’s onscreen. What about the new guys? Frustratingly I still can’t tell the Hemsworths apart onscreen but I am pretty sure the guy playing dead Will Smith’s son is actually in a hastily rewritten part originally intended for alive Will Smith. That makes the most sense given how he interacts cool but fatherly with everyone whether they be younger or older than him… And if that is true it can only mean whichever Hemsworth is trapped in a rewritten role originally intended to be for alive Will Smith’s son (let’s assume the fictional one even if Will Smith didn’t). Mind bending that such noticable tweaks are snagging all over the compromised production. And why do I care? Nothing exciting comes of any of this… Not even when the troops are tantalisingly left behind enemy lines on the mothership at the midway point, only for that idea to be abandoned after one cheap Falling Skies shoot out. Maika Monroe and Angelababy at least get a couple of sexy tough moments, like diluted Vasquezes with access to some hair straighteners and foundation. Speaking of Aliens, the film finally kicks into life once you have long, long given up on it in and are collecting your bags and coats. After the big finale the franchise’s wriggly counterfeit of the Alien Queen chases a school bus through the desert. That bonus level epilogue is the first time human characters are put in engaging peril, the destruction is given some recognisable people-in-shot scale to compare it to, and Emmerich returns to his trademark series of cool trailer moments stylings that he made his daft name on (see Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and White House Down… And yes I did mean to include Godzilla 1997 on this list). Whereas the 1996 entry was a pop disaster movie with an achingly of its time cast and bit of UFO Top Gun as the cherry on top, this is a begrudging futurist war movie with no idea what blockbuster it wants to rip off… Independence Day would have been my suggestion.