Independence Day: Resurgence

 

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“They’re coming back. And this time we won’t be able to stop them.” So notes former US president Bill Pullman in Roland Emmerich’s whopping great sequel.

 

Independence Day: Resurgence 

  

The popcorn summer has arrived. After a slew of disappointing superhero epics, the CGI Factory returns to what it does best: the wholesale destruction of the planet. Twenty years after Will Smith and assorted aviation squadrons battled the mother of all alien races – and won – the sequel arrives in time for July the 4th, 2016. The good news is that Roland Emmerich – the original director – is back at the helm and nobody does global extermination like Roland Emmerich. It is he who delighted in bringing us various apocalyptic scenarios with Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, along with his relatively big-budget student film The Noah's Ark Principle, released theatrically in 1984. He’s also destroyed the White House three times, in Independence Day, 2012 and White House Down. Here, the presidential palace witnesses the total demolition of the US capital but, in a sly in-joke, is itself spared.

 

The sequel may not be as fun as the original, but it’s got humour to spare and is leaner, frequently sphincter-flinching, visually gobsmacking and packed with pre-iconic dialogue. It’s also smart. The president of the US is now a woman (Sela Ward), not Morgan Freeman, and an international cast has been rallied to reflect the unification of the planet which followed after the first attack. First attack? Well, it won’t spoil anything to suggest that the world is once again under threat (it’s on the poster) and this time the enemy ships are even larger. A lot larger. Usually, bigger doesn’t spell better, but here the sheer size of the alien mothership – it’s 3,000 miles across – and the attendant effects are genuinely awesome. In the intervening years our planet may have formed the global Earth Space Defense and fine-tuned its early warning system, but the aliens have also had twenty years…

 

Jeff Goldblum, who returns as the computer geek David Levinson, supplies much of the humour, and it’s good to see the actor back in the heart of a blockbuster. His line, “I had twenty years to get us ready – and we never had a chance,” will probably serve as the film’s encapsulation. And Brent Spiner is good value, too, as the dishevelled scientist Brakish Okun, who seems to have an inside track on what is going on. When the captured aliens from the first film jump back into life, he intones, “No, no, they’re not screaming. They’re celebrating.”

 

And with the blue-eyed Liam Hemsworth as the token hero and Jessie T. Usher as his rival in flight (and stepson of Will Smith’s character, Steven Hiller), along with fellow female pilots Maika Monroe and Hong Kong's Angelababy, the film has plenty of sex appeal. Indeed, there’s something here for everyone, a sci-fi romp in the tradition of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and The Thing from Another World (also 1951) which proves, for once, that size can be sexy.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, William Fichtner, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Travis Tope, Joey King, Patrick St. Esprit, Chin Han, Robert Loggia.

 

Dir Roland Emmerich, Pro Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser, Screenplay Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods and James Vanderbilt, Ph Markus Förderer, Pro Des Barry Chusid, Ed Adam Wolfe, Music Harald Kloser and Thomas Wanker, Costumes Lisy Christl.

 

Centropolis Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Electric Entertainment-Twentieth Century Fox.

119 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 23 June 2016. Cert. 12A.