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Independence Day: Resurgence - Film4

Liam Hemsworth in a flight suit talks to a colleague
(Image credit: Claudette Barius)

A cheesy but fun sequel to the alien invasion epic. 3/5 stars

Overblown, cheesy and thoroughly silly, the original Independence Day reduced the White House to rubble and raised a fortune at the box office in 1996. Even more ludicrous than its predecessor, Roland Emmerich's sequel isn't so much a reprise of ID4 as a combination of tribute act and reunion tour.

There are fresh faces. Liam Hemsworth's maverick fighter pilot takes the role of cocky hero previously filled by Will Smith. Jessie Usher is his hotshot flying ace rival, the son of Smith's absent character. And Maika Monroe is his love interest, the daughter of the first film's gung-ho US president. Fans of the original film, however, will be more excited by the return of such familiar faces as Jeff Goldblum's brilliant computer whiz, Bill Pullman's former president and Brent Spiner's eccentric boffin. Then there are the aliens, wreaking even more havoc on their return. London comes a cropper, the Eye impaled by Dubai's Burj Khalifa skyscraper, Tower Bridge flattened by Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers.

The filmmakers go to town with the devastation but devote less care to the stuff in between. The new characters are a lacklustre lot and they don't get anything particularly snappy to say. And when these young bloods take to the air in a bid to fend off the aliens, their CGI-laden scenes of aerial combat are more confusing than breathtaking. Fortunately, the old hands are much more engaging and the action kicks up a gear in its final stages.

Indeed, the film is at its most exciting when it is also at its cheesiest, with a school bus full of kids careering across the Nevada desert, alien monster in hot pursuit, as the countdown to Earth's total annihilation ticks down towards zero.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.