They're baaaack.

The aliens that attacked the Earth 20 years ago in Independence Day return for a second go-round, this time minus Will Smith, who used the original movie to transform from sitcom star to legit matinee idol.

If Independence Day: Resurgence proves one thing, it's how good Smith is at his job. Smith's Capt. Steve Hiller is dead and gone. There's a gaping charisma hole in Resurgence that can't be filled by the alien-fighting newbies (Independence Day: The New Class?), led by Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games), Jessie T. Usher (Survivor's Remorse), and Maika Monroe (It Follows). But they're not exactly given a lot to work with. Smith has a knack for the one-liners, but "Get ready for a close encounter, bitch" doesn't necessarily have the same panache as "Welcome to Earth."

Jeff Goldblum's David Levinson and Bill Pullman's President Whitmore are back for Round 2, so they can essentially do the same thing they did the first timein Levinson's case, act as the nebbish genius lothario, while Whitmore is the warrior-leader. Although, this time these characters spend a lot more time explaining an unnecessarily complicated plot that's essentially in place to set up yet another sequel. It's best not to get into it. 

But, like it's predecessor, Resurgence is a spectacle. I remember sitting in the theater watching the first Independence Day as a kid, mouth agape at what the movies could do. I'm a little more cynical at this point. I've seen what the movies can do for the past 20 years, and the aliens already destroyed the White House, so watching them target more cities feels like a retread, which feels weird to say. Cities decimated? Yawn. But, it wouldn't be summer if things didn't blow up onscreen. And, boy, do things sure blow up.
While the plot is dumb and the script is worse, watching aliens explode in spectacular fashion isn't the worst excuse to spend to two hours in air-conditioning.  

Movie review

Independence Day: Resurgence

(Two stars out of four stars)

Directed by Roland Emmerich. With Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe. Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.

Running time: 2 hours.

Parents' guide: PG-13 (violence, language).

Playing at: Area theaters.