The recent sequel to the ultra-jingoistic 96 alien invasion classic was a positive surprise, though given that I had rather low expectations, it shouldn’t have been entirely unexpected. It sports the same mix as the original: another invasion, a certain we-can-do attitude in the presence of utter, nightmarish destruction brought on by an even bigger alien ship and various plans to fight back that get more desperate as events spiral out of control.
What I didn’t expect was how the sequel built on the foundations laid down by the first movie. Instead of US-centric jingoism, there is now human-centric jingoism that reminds me of old SF-novels and their humanity-is-superior approach and which shows that the humanity united theme of the original’s ending actually carried through. Also, unlike lots of invasion movies, humanity actually researched the technology left by the destroyed alien ships and used it to built an advanced defense system including local space-faring capabilities. Also typical for old space opera books, but rather rare in movies.
I wouldn’t say the movie is great, but for what it is, it’s very enjoyable. It starts with slowly mounting tension and the utter nightmare-inducing descent of the alien ship, packs in a neat mystery that is essential for the final part and beyond, has well directed, tense action (arguably even better than that of the original) and sports lots of clever plot twists which overall make it feel more ambitious in terms of world-building. And while there’s a lot of pandering going on, both to those who like the original as well as the humankind-uber-alles mindset in general, at least it has no major suspension of disbelief breaker like the winning strategy of the original.
If you want to see something like early space opera – slightly modernized but not too self-aware – brought to the big screen, this is your best bet.