INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
*1/2 (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Roland Emmerich
STARS Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum
The first inanity in Independence Day: Resurgence — and what is this sequel to the 1996 smash Independence Day if not an endless stream of inanities? — arrives when it's revealed that the entire global community felt so connected in a United Colors of Benetton sort of way following the defeat of the invading aliens 20 years ago that everyone has lived in peace ever since. There have been no territorial wars, no terrorist psychos blowing up buildings, no televised Sean Hannity rants against the dangers of "libtards," apparently not even a couple of kids throwing spastic punches in the schoolyard. And that Kumbaya feeling only threatens to expand once those nasty e.t.'s return for the 20-year reunion, again set on annihilating all of humankind.
Will Smith may have opted not to collect a sizable paycheck for a sequel that reeks of cash-grabbing desperation, but practically everyone else is back, including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and the late Robert Loggia (who passed away last December). Director Roland Emmerich was even kind enough to awaken Brent Spiner out of his 20-year coma so he could again play Dr. Okun, likewise emerging from a 20-year coma. (I kid: Since the days of portraying Data, Spiner has kept busy toiling on TV.)
The problem, though, isn't the old-timers — it's the newcomers. While the original ID contained characters who kept us entertained, this picture adds characters — and their attendant actors — who are so devoid of personality, they barely register as living organisms. Chief among the culprits is The Hunger Games' Liam Hemsworth as a cross between Top Gun's Maverick and a rock, but others guilty as charged include Jessie T. Usher as the son of Smith's character (that adorable little kid in ID, played by Ross Bagley, must have had all the personality beaten out of him to have grown into this stiff) and not one but two actors added for irritating comic relief: Travis Tope as a woman-obsessed nerd and Nicolas Wright as a more generic nerd. In Independence Day, we pulled for the humans; in this daft, dreary and derivative sequel, our sympathies rest entirely with any otherworldly creature who can just shut these guys up.