Twenty years to make an amazing movie, and this is what they came up with.
Long story short, the movie was a spectacle, had some exciting moments, but was greatly flawed and ultimately pointless. I’m going to get into SPOILERS here, but honestly, you can probably guess every plot point in this movie, so what’s the point? *Sigh*… SPOILERS ahoy!
First off, I didn’t give a crap about any of the new characters. Oh no, handsome space pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) almost killed other handsome pilot Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) a while ago? And his beautiful fiancee (the former president’s daughter and also pilot) Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) wants them to get along better? Wow, I couldn’t care less. They maybe could have made me care, but I doubt it. And they spent entirely too much time setting it up, and it ultimately just doesn’t matter. Additionally, Dylan Hiller is Stephen Hiller’s (Will Smith) and Jasmine Hiller’s (Vivica A. Fox) son, simply so there’s more of a connection to the first movie. Oh, and Jasmine’s become a doctor, I guess so that Dylan can see her die on top of the hospital roof. That was almost laughable to me.
I’ve also never felt more like I was watching a video game than when I was watching this movie, and I just watched Warcraft not too long ago. We’ve got to counter-attack! Oh no, it didn’t work, but now we’re on the alien ship, we’re going to steal some of their ships! We’re out of their ship, now we have to fight the giant alien queen! Shoot until the shield drops! Now shoot the gun, that’s the weak spot right now! Now shoot the queen in the back, that’s the weak point now! I felt strange not holding a controller in my hand. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing that it felt like a video game, but it should probably feel more like a movie.
And just like last movie, hundreds of millions die and, while the characters are trying to save the earth, the spirit of the movie remains light-hearted and borderline goofy. For example, there’s a duo in the movie, David Levinson’s (Jeff Goldblum) assistant and a fucking warlord who are palling around the whole movie. The assistant keeps on trying to get the warlord to teach him to be a badass and it just feels ridiculous considering how the world has been devastated. Oh, and the film also keeps cutting away to Judd Hirsch‘s character and who the hell cares about Judd Hirsch’s character?! He could have been completely cut from the movie and the movie would have been better for it. His function was to eventually bring a bus full of kids into a dangerous area so that they could be chased by a giant alien queen. Seriously. Exceptionally stupid.
It also struck me how, in this film, it seems that only gays and minorities and die. Stephen Hiller (black guy) – dead (off-screen). Jasmine Hiller (black lady) – dead. Commander Jiang (asian guy) – dead. Brent Spiner‘s boyfriend (gay guy) – dead. But of course Judd Hirsch’s character survives! He absolutely should have died several times, but makes it through to the very end and boy did that piss me off. One could argue that ex-president Whitmore died, so white straight people die, too! But I would argue that a noble sacrifice, knowing what he was doing, is definitely different. He goes to his death knowing exactly how he’s saving the world. Others die tragically, without reason, but the straight white guy dies with a fucking purpose, god damn it! Just something that bothered me.
Then, holy shit, they did the whole “kill the one and everything dies” cliche. Horrible. Killed the queen, and not only did all the smaller ships fail and crash, but the giant ship just up and left! It wasn’t destroyed, it just fucked right off! “Oh, the queen’s dead, let’s get the hell out of here!” What? It had even been established that the aliens continue to function after the queen is destroyed. Some survivors 20 years ago fought a decade long war after their initial defeat, but after this time, the rest of the aliens either die or beat it the hell out of here. It was even worse than usual in this movie. Bothered me so much.
They also set up another sequel, of us going into space to fight the aliens along with other aliens, which could be fun, as long as Roland Emmerich isn’t directing it. The man seems to have no sense for how actual humans respond to catastrophe. But more sci-fi space romps isn’t something I’m going to scoff at outright. Just make it better than this time around.
All in all, this movie was a loud spectacle that can distract you for 2 hours. You won’t be bored, but the movie is not good. It was a lot more fun in 1996.