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In Independence Day: Resurgence, famous landmarks from capital cities around the world are tossed around, tidal waves engulf coastal regions and the massive shadow of the alien space ship looms over the planet.

A disappointing effects-laden orgy

Jun 24, 2016 5:50 AM

"THEY'RE coming back!" screams former US President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) as he awakes from a sweaty nightmare in director Roland Emmerich's loud, frantic and hugely disappointing sci-fi spectacle Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to Independence Day (1996), the effects-heavy pioneer that helped to redefine disaster movies.

Whitmore is referring to the alien attackers who pummelled Planet Earth and came oh-so-close to destroying the human race two decades ago before being repelled by a band of plucky patriots.

After a lengthy gestation period, the filmmakers have rounded up most of the original cast (Will Smith is a notable absentee) for another session of humans-versus-aliens - featuring all the big-scale special effects that a US$165-million budget can buy.

While "They're coming back" doesn't have the same resonance and staying power as classic movie lines like "May the Force be with you", "We're going to need a bigger boat" or even "I'll be back", it does adequately describe the plight facing Whitmore's successor President Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward) and her advisers.

In the years since the initial attacks, a united global community has prepared for close encounters with extra-terrestrials by building an Earth Space Defence (ESD) system and a control station on the moon. When an unidentified craft show up on their doorstep, they shun diplomacy and blast it to smithereens.

David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), a reassuring presence from Independence Day and now a high-ranking expert on decoding alien behaviour, retrieves a remnant from the wreckage. It may hold a clue to understanding (and defeating) the enemy. He's accompanied by Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a scientist on the ESD team and Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), a hot-shot fighter pilot whose insubordination has relegated him to a low-level job on the moon, ferrying people and equipment around.

Jake is engaged to Whitmore's daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe) - an aide to President Lanford - and in a bad place with Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie Usher), an air force top gun and stepson to the Will Smith character who famously slugged and captured an alien pilot in the original film.

The alien hordes are indeed returning, in a mother ship that's much bigger than the last one. It's clear that Earth's defences are inadequate. Soon enough, famous landmarks from capital cities around the world are tossed around, tidal waves engulf coastal regions and the massive shadow of the alien space ship looms over the planet.

Once again, it's hero time as the humans make a last stand at Area 51 in the Nevada desert and once again, Whitmore buckles up for battle - after an inspirational Fourth-of-July speech, of course - with help from Levinson, fellow scientist Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner) and a motley crew of survivors. Up in the air, Jake, Dylan, Patricia and obligatory China ace Rain Lao (Angelababy) run interference for Whitmore to deliver a nuclear payload to the aliens and their Queen Bee leader.

The script, by a committee comprising Nicolas Wright, James A Woods, Dean Devlin, Emmerich and James Vanderbilt, colours each character in different shades of caricature and calls for an abundance of cartoonish dialogue - only Levinson emerges relatively unscathed.

Viewers who come expecting an effects-laden orgy won't be disappointed - for everyone else, "I won't be back" will probably be a more familiar refrain.

Rating: C-