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Review: “Independence Day: Resurgence” (PG-13)

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Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.(NEW YORK) — Director Roland Emmerich has finally given us a sequel to the 1996 summer blockbuster Independence DayIndependence Day: Resurgence.  And it’s as visually spectacular, and as vacuous, as you might expect.

Twenty years after the first alien attack, the world has united, harvesting alien technology to make the planet a better place, including building a planetary defense force. We learn Captain Steven Hiller, the character played by Will Smith in the original, has died but his son, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), is now a fighter pilot. Patricia (Maika Monroe), daughter of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), is a speechwriter for the current president (Sela Ward) and is engaged to cocky pilot Jake, played by Liam Hemsworth, who’s stationed on the moon.

As for Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson, he’s now a high-ranking government official who finds his way to Africa, where a warlord and his troops have been minding the only alien ship that landed on Earth during the 1996 invasion.  That ships lights have suddenly turned on — indicating the aliens might be coming back.

We learn a little more about the aliens and their motivation, but there’s nothing terribly original here. The joy of Independence Day: Resurgence is the visual spectacle. I saw it in Imax 3D and it was aesthetically pleasing, to say the least.  While not fully satisfying, Emmerich’s talent for disaster porn is unrivaled here, and the aliens are fantastic and a lot of fun to look at.

The film’s attempts at substance, though, are trite at best. The new characters are poorly developed, clichéd archetypes delivering zero emotional impact. The first movie was considerably funnier and while Independence Day: Resurgence has its share of camp, that camp’s on par with the last Sharknado TV movie.

Three out five stars.

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