Running time: 2 hours
Cast: Liam Helmsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, Sela Ward, Willam Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Nobody looks back at the first Independence Day movie and thinks it was a masterpiece. But as for spectacle and a huge dollop of dumb action, where Will Smith punches an alien and a crop spraying drunk helps defeat the invasion, we got enough of what we wanted from it. This too late follow up has no Will Smith but in his place we get a handful of spare change to try and plug the hole. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park even though that’s the wrong franchise. Bill Pullman is back as patriotic monologue spouting ex president. Judd Hirsch is back as favour to Rolland Emmerich. Plus Brent Spiner is back as cheap nerd actor. On top of this, because in all honesty , who cares about them, is B-list Hemsworth Liam, oh.
Playing Will Smith’s son is Jessie T. Usher (WHOOOOOooooooo????) and William ‘I’ve got gambling debts to pay’ Fichtner as lead dramatic army man. But it’s Maika Monroe of the excellent The Guest and It Follows, who I forgive. She’s coming up in her career and even though this is pretty pants, it’s good for her resume. Now all the actors are jobbing actors who come along and do exactly what’s asked of them. The problem is its blue print, by the numbers, seen it before, route one dross.
In fact everything is 70%. The script, “that’ll do”, CGI, “that’ll do”, cast level, “that’ll do” and on and on. Patriotic speech times five. Heroic deed times three. Pointless characters to just fill running time times ten.
And yet, knowing that it feels like a pilot for the Independence Day tv series and yet still isn’t as good as say Battlestar Galactica tv series, does still have its merits. It has half a dozen ‘money shots’ which on a show reel would look impressive. But the film as a whole hits it’s heights at ‘OK’ and its lows at ‘Jeez, how small is this world that everyone can randomly fall at their family’s feet at the exact moment even if they were briefly on another planet’.
The science is totally wrong. There’s no g -force, no emotional weight, no ‘stop and see if they are friendly before blasting them’. No sense, no …will smith. The sets are glaringly obvious, in a Star Trek 1970’s way. Throw some sand down and lean on a fake rock level of cheap.
BUT I did enjoy the final beasty in the latter half even though that too was recognisable in design. It has Aliens, Spaceships, Guns and Jeff Goldblum, therefore it’s got some worth.
Like when all you want is a dirty sweaty burger from the back of a van even though it has no nutritional value, this movie fills a certain type of hole. Albeit a cheap one. And to practically bait the audience with a franchise carrot has got to be commended.
C Whitehouse 2016