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film review

An alien attack has devastating effects on a major world capital.

It didn't have to be this way. Twenty years after the first Independence Day unleashed a bold spectacle of CGI mayhem upon the world, earning more than $800-million in the process, it seemed the denizens of Earth were doing just fine without a sequel. We had the Marvel movies, the Transformers series, the Men in Black films – and hey, Star Wars was back, too. In terms of Peak Destruction Cinema, we were good, thanks. Yet someone in the bowels of 20th Century Fox decided that just wouldn't do – no, what the planet needed was another alien invasion movie steeped in patriotism and catastrophe porn. The world needed another Independence Day.

So here we are, the memory of director Roland Emmerich's original film barely a facsimile of a memory in our blockbuster-addled minds, with a new alien-invasion product ("film" isn't quite the right word), even though no one asked for it and Fox itself seems ashamed of its existence, neglecting to hold any press screenings, lest the rancid smell of the thing leak out before opening weekend.

And while Independence Day: Resurgence could have been a passably entertaining distraction in a season perfectly suited to wisecracks and planetary genocide, it is something far worse: one of the most aggressively stupid blockbusters ever made, a painful exercise in Hollywood greed and artistic incompetence on every level.

Emmerich, returning here like a jump-cut-obsessed Jason Voorhees who refuses to die or hold a steady shot for more than three seconds, inflicts audiences with a lurching, inexcusably lazy narrative. It's been two decades since the attack of the first movie, and hey, those things that were definitely not inspired by the work of H.R. Giger are back to finish the job. Not returning, unfortunately, are a handful of actors from the original film who have gone on to achieve international stardom (Will Smith), Internet notoriety (Randy Quaid, Adam Baldwin) or the sweet embrace of death itself (Robert Loggia, though his visage is resurrected via the most unnecessary CGI ever). But if you love Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum's descent into sub-Borscht-Belt shenanigans – or, I don't know, Vivica A. Fox and Brent Spiner – have I got the movie for you two people.

Listen, it's nice that all these actors got what was hopefully a very generous paycheque for their time and services, but it's embarrassing to watch any cast member – from returning players to fresh faces such as the Hemsworth Brother You Don't Care About – deliver lines about force fields and molten cores when Emmerich and his army of writers simply don't care about anything occurring on screen.

Every plot beat is telegraphed, every shot and edit an exercise in willful mediocrity, every line of dialogue an affront to the capabilities of the human tongue. This is squirm-inducing, agonizing commerce disguised as diversionary entertainment. Worst of all, the movie realizes how bad it is, how naked its financial ambitions are, yet it doesn't even offer the kindness of being tongue-in-cheek bad, of being kitschy bad.

Like its extraterrestrial foes, Independence Day: Resurgence is a virus intent on sucking as much as it can from this world (money, time, careers) before humanity even realizes what hit 'em. And I say it's time to fight back.