I don't really disagree with anything in the review per se. It feels like an unnecessary sequel, a lot of dialogue is exposition in the opening act (and by proxy, there's way too many characters), its overall plot feels like ID4 compressed into the span of a single day, none of its actions come close to the effect (e.g. there's a mirror of the July 3rd scene that also goes south, albeit for different, vaguely defined reasons), and it ends on blatent sequel bait. You know when I complained about Warcraft having sequel bait? Well, I take it back. Warcraft at least established at the start that this wasn't going to end well for either side as the war was still going. In this film, without spoilers, the last words are literally "we're going to go into space to kick some alien arse" and cue fade to black. Oh, and that a ship that covers the entire Atlantic is the antagonist? Bigger isn't always better. The effects of its gravity are factored in at the start, but those effects just stop once it lands. Oh, and there's blatant homage, if not copying to other sci-fi properties (Command & Conquer, Ender's Game, arguably Star Wars, Jurassic Park) with mixed results, and when they have to take out the shields, then gun, then literally shoot the (spoiler) of the (spoiler) to save the day, it's like something straight out of a videogame. In a bad way.
And yet...I don't think this is a bad film per se. It's average - 3 out of 5 stars, and not once did my opinion change on it. Because despite everything I've said above, there are some things I liked about this film, namely:
-The aesthetic of human-alien tech, while limited (e.g. they're still using fossil fuels for cars), is something I like, and has a similar touch as Stargate SG-1 - alien tech with a human touch. This extended to the aesthetic of the moonbase as well.
-Jeff Goldblum and Brent Spiner are easily the standouts. Oaken is every bit the cliche scientist he was in the first film, but I found myself smiling most of the time he was on screen. Likewise, the other characters aren't without moments of depth. For instance, it's commented that Hillard's son was always going to get command of Legacy Squadron because, well, he's Hillard's son. Jake was never going to get that position by virtue of him being a "war orphan," in a world where being orphaned in the War of 96 doesn't really mean anything. There's a few other comments like that that do add depth to the setting and characters, that even in this utopian future, politics and prejudice still exist, if not on the surface.
-While the film does follow the story-beats of ID4, there are subtle differences. Very, very subtle, and I may be reading too much into it, but I guess I could sum up the aliens' (note: why are they still just called "aliens" by humans 20 years later? Heck, just call them (spoiler) like the (spoiler) calls them). But if I could sum up the approaches:
-ID1: Okay, it's yet another backwater. Get the ships above their cities, blow them up, move on. They...oh, they're sending fighters at us? Fine, send out the fighters and...done? Okay, let's get back to work and...our shields are down? Uh-oh.
-ID2: Okay, these little bastards took out an entire harvesting operation, so we're not taking any chances this time. Send one of our (spoilers), get the job done, no slipups this time. We also know that they're going to counter-attack, so we're going to use actual aerospace tactics in air-to-air combat. Ooh, we outflanked them? Very good job. Now let's get this done before they can surprise us again.
Not going into spoilers there, but yes, there is a different 'essence' to the combat at times.
-The psychic connection, how because the aliens communicate telepathically, humans who are exposed to this can sort of 'tap in' to the hivemind (e.g. Whitmoore), but at severe cost to their mental health. Again, nice touch.
-Alien ground troops with laser guns. That's all I'm going to say, only that more of this please, and less "throw everything on screen in a manner that would make Rick McCallum blush."
So, yeah. Unnecessary sequel and not a good film, but, IMO, way better than one star. To address Caramel Frappe, this film isn't on the level of Michael Bay. Like, at all. There's moments of genuine humour, and I'll take these characters over the likes of the Transformers ones anyday. It's silly, stupid fun, but the type of fun that doesn't make you feel stupid for watching it.
So, yeah. That's my 2 cents.
-This is one of the few films I've seen where toilet humour was genuinely funny. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
-Have we reached the point of "token Asian" replacing "token black?" I ask because there's a Chinese pilot in Legacy Squadron who's the neice of the Chinese general on the moon base, but neither are really developed as characters (and the pilot is really there to be "token love interest with token buddy pilot guy") and this being in a film that's otherwise all-American bar the French psychologist and African warlord (because of course he is). The film is far less patriotic per se than the first, but feels like it wants to be considered inclusive, yet is unwilling or unable to do the groundwork to make non-American/white characters have a prominent role.