The ads for “Independence Day: Resurgence” say, speaking of the aliens, “We had twenty years to prepare. So did they.” But that’s not a good thing to remind us of as we watch this dopey, cheesy, SyFy Channel-ish sequel to the 1996 blockbuster. I kept thinking: Roland Emmerich had twenty years to prepare. And THIS is what he came up with?
Two decades after we repelled the alien invasion, the ships they left behind now begin to reawaken, summoning a new horde. This time, the alien ship is the size of a continent, straddling the Atlantic Ocean and causing the natural (well, “natural”) disasters whose destructive images are the films’ raison d’etre. Meanwhile, a screenplay that is 90 percent exposition keeps telling us about things that happened after the last movie ended, some of which sound interesting, but too bad, we missed ’em.
The military is represented by hotshot pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), who’s engaged to ex-president Bill Pullman’s daughter, Patricia (Maika Monroe), who works in the current president’s (Sela Ward) White House, because the movie needs a reason for all of the old characters to be reunited again. This becomes absurd later, when everyone ends up at Area 51 together — Pres. Pullman, Jeff Goldblum (who’s head of the Earth Space Defense, the global equivalent of Homeland Security), his father Judd Hirsch (who’s flung many miles inland by the tsunami, unharmed), scientist Brent Spiner (who’s been in a coma the whole time), and Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), son of the Will Smith character, who’s dead. Vivica A. Fox has a pitiful cameo as Dylan’s mother, propped against green-screen effects that are surprisingly cheap-looking, given how expensive the movie is.
With so many of the returning characters unnecessary, it’s strange that most of the new ones are extraneous, too: Jake Morrison’s hero-worshipping co-pilot Charlie (Travis Tope); the lady pilot Charlie’s interested in (Angelababy); a doofy underling named Floyd (Nicolas Wright) who’s assigned to shadow Goldblum and ends up fighting aliens alongside an African warlord; et cetera.
The film is nonsensical and simple-minded, often amusingly so (not on purpose), but rarely in a way that’s irritating. It’s stupid but harmless — too good-naturedly dumb to sink to the level of awfulness, though certainly not worth the two hours of your fleeting mortality required to view it.
C (2 hrs.; )