INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (PG) Action-adventure
120 minutes/Opens today
We always knew they'd be back - we just didn't count on humanity's collective charisma being off-planet when they returned.
So while Earth's defenders, veterans and noobs alike, put in a valiant effort, and the nasty alien invaders bring their A-game to wipe us all out, mankind's latest last stand is curiously lacking in attitude and fortitude.
Maybe this can be partially attributed to the absence of Will Smith, who certainly provided a large dose of those in the original. But it's not all due to his no-show in the main event.
It's also because there's a glaring lack of the little moments that helped make the original movie such a pop-culture landmark, from the people partying on rooftops just before the aliens unleashed hell, to Mary McDonnell's First Lady lovingly chiding her presidential hubby Bill Pullman for lying in her final moments.
And even more than Smith, I really miss Randy Quaid as the slightly unhinged cropduster Russell Casse, a stand-up family guy despite all his troubles.
This time, we get Liam Hemsworth as a rebellious fighter pilot relegated to flying "tugboats" on the moon; Jessie Usher as the grown-up son of Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox) from the first movie; and Maika Monroe as the grown-up daughter of Pullman's President Whitmore.
Besides all three being fighter pilots, they also have one thing in common: They are just... bland.
If the current generation can't do the job, well, then leave it to the oldsters to step in and save the day. But again, they achieve this mostly because we're just familiar with these veterans from the first movie: Pullman, Jeff Goldblum's nervy computer expert David Levinson, Brent Spiner's twitchy scientist Dr Brakish Okun, Judd Hirsch's, er, grandfatherly father figure Julius Levinson.
Two decades to the day after our little near-extinction event back in 1996, Earth is planning a big celebration. It has risen from the ashes, using borrowed alien technology to augment its arsenal and build orbital, lunar and other assorted space-defence systems.
Of course, when the aliens return with a vengeance, you know all that is going to amount to nothing. Humanity finds its hopes crushed on the anniversary of its greatest triumph.
Dropping landmarks from halfway across the world on London just before it's about to be flattened anyway?
That is just too human an action to be done by aliens.
The differences between Independence Day and Resurgence perhaps also mirror the changes in the pace and tone of life in the intervening years.
The short attention span has grown even shorter, everyone's on an accelerated schedule of some kind (even the aliens), and people just don't seem to appreciate the value of a good build-up any more.
Returning director Roland Emmerich and his numerous story collaborators were apparently all too happy to oblige, since they didn't bother to weave in any of the kind of moments that gave the original the heart that complemented and even elevated its corny spectacle.
One plus point: They don't repeat the silly "virus uploading" angle - "Without the oops," as Levinson also said back then.
If you just want sprawling, unbelievable, physics-defying action accompanied by close shaves and unlikely heroism, well, there's a lot of that to be found here - even nods to giant monsters and interstellar portals from the rest of Emmerich's body of work.
But by not taking the time to let this sequel take its time, Emmerich and company have not delivered anything close to a resurgence, merely a rehash.