Phil Villarreal's novel, Zeta Male, is available at Amazon.
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - If "Independence Day" sequels are this awful, here's hoping it takes more than 20 years for the next one.
Two decades after director Roland Emmerich established himself as maestro of large-scale cinematic disaster flicks and redefined the alien invasion genre with the breezy brilliance of his original, he proves that he is definitively out of ideas.
The director rounds up anyone from the original cast who hasn't gotten too big for this sort of thing (cough, Will Smith, cough) and gets them back together to fend off another onslaught from the terrors of the great beyond.
As the years have rolled by, humanity has reverse-engineered technology from the invaders to create spaceships, laser guns and, I guess, dorky military uniforms. All that tech, as well as a half hour of the regenerated alien forces cryptically signaling a second invasion, does nothing to derail the next bombardment a graphic and glorious decimation of whatever landmarks still remain after the last obliteration.
No one wields a CGI magic marker like Emmerich and his crew, and the rush of chaotic, widespread destruction is the movie's lone high point. It's a shame it has to stop at some point, as the humans regroup and launch a much less exciting counter attack. After the mid-film shock-and-awe cataclysm, it's all downhill from there, and you start to wish for another go-round of satisfying, terrifying explosions. Is it wrong to root for the aliens?
The sequel sticks to the established form of rotating among several groups coping with the alien invasion in their own way. Liam Hemsworth and Dylan Hiller (who plays the killed-off Will Smith character's) provides an injection of new blood as cocksure pilots who penetrate the mothership. Jeff Goldblum is back to handle the geeky end of concocting a grand plan of attack, Bill Pullman is the retired hero president who has become a stuttering, bearded hermit, and there is also a buss full of kids to, well, ride a bus.
The last film made the formula work by making global alien annihilation seem fun, with smart dialogue and bombastic performances. Everything other than the showpiece action sequences feels like more of a sleepwalk here, with far more dull sequences filled with uninteresting meetings and dreadful go-team, TED talk-style speeches that make you wish the aliens had targeted the main characters.
Maybe humanity's main weapon against attack from beyond the stars is being too boring to conquer. Sure, Earth may be a fun place to blow up for a little while, but you wouldn't want to live there.
RATING: 1.5 stars out of 4