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INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE: 1 STAR. “bigger but not better.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 9.08.21 AM“That is definitely bigger than the last one,” says David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum).

He’s talking about the alien spaceship that puts our planet in peril in “Independence Day: Resurgence,” the twenty-years-in-the-making sequel to Will Smith’s 90s mega-hit, but he could also be talking about the movie itself. It’s certainly bigger and louder than the original, but is it better?

In the two decades since the first invasion the world has become a better place. “Our survival is only possible when we stand together,” says President Lanford (Sela Ward). The White House has been rebuilt, a woman is President and countries now work together. There’s a military installation on the moon and using the ET technology salvaged from the downed spaceships they have safe guarded the planet from another attack.

Or so almost everyone thought.

Ex-President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is plagued by bad dreams—or are they premonitions?—of another extra-terrestrial incursion and it turns out he’s right. A distress signal from the first wave of space invaders triggered another assault, this time with bigger, badder aliens from deep, deep, deep space.

“Make them pay,” says ex-first daughter Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) to her boyfriend, warrior pilot Jake (Liam Hemsworth). “I’m not going out there to make friends,” he says. Look out aliens! Cue the computer generated carnage.

At their best big special effects movies like this should fill the viewer with wonder. Large-scale spectacle, like the world on the verge of collapse, should fill us with shock and awe but in “Independence Day: Resurgence” we have to settle for an unsettling sense of déjà vu. It’s a movie that exists as an excuse to showcase the special effects in a cynical attempt to recycle an idea that worked well enough the first time. Not only have we seen virtually everything here in the original film, we’ve seen similar images in every end-of-the-world movie from the last twenty years. Here they are bigger and louder, but not better.

Ditto the dialogue. It feels like a first draft to the original movie, updated for a new cast. Goldblum is always a welcome presence but he’s saddled with terrible, trite words and he gets most of the good lines. It’s the kind of movie were people ask questions instead of saying anything interesting. “How the hell did we miss this?” “What’s going on?” Or the classic, “What the…??!!,” delivered with mouth agape. It’s less a script than a series of catchphrases and questions cobbled together and sounds like it was all run through the Blandizer® before being handed over to the actors.

It’s the kind of movie where you root for the aliens, hoping they make quick work of humanity because that would be less painful than sitting through one more minute of this mess. You don’t watch “Independence Day: Resurgence,” you subject yourself to it because even though it could be the end of humanity there’s no real humanity here, just empty heroics.

The most alien thing about the movie is the presence of Lars Von Trier’s favourite actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. If anyone in the movie noticed she was there I’m sure they would say, “What the hell is she doing here?” Cashing a paycheque I imagine.

I really hated “Independence Day: Resurgence.” It’s a popcorn flick but this popcorn stale. “Independence Day”? More like “Groundhog Day.” We’ve seen it before and better.

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