Well, I suppose if anyone can claim to be the originator of all this wanton city destruction we now have to sit through year after year it’s Roland Emmerich, and this summer he’s back to up the stakes. This sequel to his 1996 blockbuster Independence Day hits most of the same notes as the original – good and bad – but it’s altogether bigger and louder and smashier, with a giant 3,000 mile-wide mothership rudely touching down over the entire Atlantic Ocean and carrying a fresh threat to humanity’s existence, partly from its cumbersome landing and partly from the intelligent alien queen on board (a great, hulking kaiju who’s here to kill everyone and mist up Jeff Goldblum’s glasses). Joining Goldblum from the earlier film are Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch, while there are brief returns for Robert Loggia and Vivica A. Fox, the latter appearing for one scene only which sadly also happens to be one of the most cringeworthy in the entire movie. There are several new cast members, too: William Fichtner dons military fatigues for the 4,000th time in his career; Jessie Usher plays the son of Will Smith’s now-deceased hero from the first film; charisma vortex Liam Hemsworth plays a cocky and insubordinate young pilot (sheesh); It Follows star Maika Monroe is a fellow pilot and also the daughter of Pullman’s former President Whitmore; Deobia Oparei is a Congolese warlord who is shoehorned into the story as a concession to international diversity; and likewise the Chinese singer, model and actress Angelababy, who plays yet another good-looking ace pilot. Otherwise, much like the first film, it’s all Americans saving the day as nomads and Buddhist monks gather round CB radios in hope that a few people with shiny teeth and good complexions can kick some alien butt. Oh, and did I mention that it also stars Charlotte Gainsbourg? No? Independence Day: Regurgitation stars Charlotte Fucking Gainsbourg!
Sadly no-one – except for the dependably-witty Goldblum – comes out of the film with any credit, but the quality of performances seems somewhat beside the point in a film that’s so reliant on fantastic spectacle to the detriment of…well…everything else. You know exactly what you’re going to get. Emmerich’s film is full of portentous, rumbling basslines as the giant alien ship moves into view, its arrival on Earth causing a flurry of CGI tsunamis and exploding buildings (Singapore and London draw the short straw and are wiped out, which is Emmerich’s equivalent of leaving a poor review on TripAdvisor). The aliens duly hand us our asses on a plate, but when all looks to be lost – as per the first film – the screenplay unleashes the spirited ‘Murican fightback via the magical means of motivational speech. Humanity goes for broke, lots of lasers go pewpewpew, Liam Hemsworth shouts ‘whoah!’ and ‘hang on!’ a lot as he flies around, and the director finds plenty of time for quips, jokes and sentimental moments as Earth’s time runs out. It seems as if almost everyone involved in the final stand at Area 51 in Nevada is either related or in love, and though the preponderance of unrealistic occurrences and coincidences that brings them all together is utterly ludicrous, one only has to remember that this is a world in which mad scientists can defeat entire advanced alien races with malware, so I guess it’s just something you have to go with. As an old hand at this kind of thing Emmerich knows what pushes the buttons of audiences containing a healthy portion of dimwits, and he’s not averse to throwing the age-old cliche of a busload of cute kids and a loveable dog in distress into the mix, in an attempt to up the stakes or the audience’s emotional response (this after seeing London, Singapore and much of the eastern seaboard of the US wiped out in around five minutes flat). It’s as dumb as it is ridiculous, of course, and countless plot holes appear before we arrive at an ending, but whatever: people will go in their droves to watch the smashy boomy loudy spaceship blow everything up, and so there’s that.
Directed by: Roland Emmerich.
Written by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, James Vanderbilt.
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Bill Pullman, William Fichtner, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Travis Tope, Deobia Oparei.
Cinematography: Markus Förderer.
Editing: Adam Wolfe.
Music: Harold Klose, Thomas Wanker.
Running Time: 129 minutes.