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Film review - Independence Day: Resurgence is misnamed, miscast and missing tension

Alien invasion sequel’s time-ravaged cast are hardly resurgent, the plot is essentially the same, Angelababy is stuck with a pointless subplot, and we’re left in no doubt as to which side will win

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 June, 2016, 11:31am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 June, 2016, 11:30am

2/5 stars

Twenty years on from Roland Emmerich’s alien-invasion blockbuster comes a belated, spluttering sequel. With most of the original cast returning, bar Will Smith, perhaps Resurgence isn’t quite the right subtitle for a bunch of time-ravaged actors, including Judd Hirsch, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum.

In truth, that’s one of the film’s more fun aspects – watching a grey-haired Goldblum, for example, pull that scientist shtick (mumbling lines like “what goes up, must come down”) one more time. He hasn’t changed a bit.

Neither has the plot, really. This time the aliens are back in greater numbers, looking to harvest the Earth’s molten core – basically using us as a giant intergalactic petrol station. With landmarks falling like matchstick models – London’s Tower Bridge included – it’s a stark reminder of what’s gone before. At least returning director Emmerich has a joke up his sleeve, when the White House – famously destroyed in the original – just survives an alien crushing.

There’s a new team of young bucks out to stop them, including the rebellious Jake (Liam Hemsworth) and Dylan (Jesse Usher), son to Will Smith’s hero pilot from the original. It Follows star Maika Monroe plays Patricia, Jake’s love interest and the fighter-pilot daughter to Pullman’s ex-president – who, now looking like Robinson Crusoe, has some fun as the meds-swallowing “crazy old man”.

Less successful is Charlotte Gainsbourg as a boffin colleague of Goldblum’s David Levinson; recalling Juliette Binoche’s turn in Godzilla, she seems entirely miscast. There’s also a blatant nod to snagging that all-important Chinese box-office by casting Angelababy Yeung Wing as one of the pilots. Her reward? To be shackled with an insulting romantic subplot that goes nowhere.

Naturally, the visual effects are top-notch, but Resurgence has nothing to top the White House explosion or Will Smith’s sass from the original. Crucially, it also lacks the heart-pounding tension. The first film, after all, showed we could beat the aliens. There isn’t much here to suggest we won’t do it again.

Independence Day: Resurgence opens on June 23

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