20 years. 20 years after the original film aka "best X-COM movie evah", the sequel we didn't know we really want has arrived. Expectation-wise, it doesn't seems that hard to match, let alone top the success of the original blockbuster, as all you need are awesome action, awesome CGIs (Fake-looking or not), good sense of humor, and overwhelming amount of cheese for a recipe for good entertainment. Thus the 165 million question, is the sequel just as good as the 1996 film? Is it the best XCOM movie evah?
The story set at the same period as us on an alternate universe, where instead of having numerous world crisis like the ugly Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, the uglier ISIS, and some part of UK voting out of EU for "a good prank" without realizing the joke's actually on them (I apologize if it's bad humor at the moment), the ID4-2 World enjoyed an unprecedented period of peace within the whole world for 20 years, along with an increased advancement in technology that brings us smartphones, small plasma spaceships and fantastic broadband between Earth and the Moon, thanks to all them sweet alien booty.
However, all is not well for the surviving characters from the last film. Ex-President is getting too old for this shit, having severe, weird PTSDs and all, Smith is dead due to not offered a fat paycheck, and Jeff Goldblum is still Jeff Goldblum after all these years, oddly his ex-wife is not around though. Ahd oh yeah, Dr. Data is still alive. Fancy that.
As if their problems aren't bad enough, the lazy aliens had begun their quest for revenge and planet-pillaging after all these years, and they sure have several brilliant plans, part of them was obviously in the trailers. But when mankind had stepped up their technological race ever since, surely they could stand a chance against those dastardly aliens' right?
Sweet! More alien booty to loot!
Unfortunately, there's a problem with the plot when the shit hit the fan, is that it gets even more ludicrous, even by the movie's standard. We thought we could just fend the aliens off the second time and be done with it, but nooo, director Roland Emmerich decided to jump the shark and add more sci-fi stuff into it even if the movie don't really need it, so much that it seems that the second half of the movie should have remain in one of his film with stars and gates. Remember that last time when the aliens simply arrived on Earth, blow shit up, and get their asses kicked by virus and good ol' kamikaze? Why can't blockbusters these days not be written by spiders with a penchant for twists?
The characters are also quite a downgrade compared to the original, as the surviving characters being even more uninteresting than before, save for Ex-President. We also have some new generic pilots in the form of Thor's real-life brother, Not-Merlin (Looks very similar to Colin Morgan, though), Smith's unsnarking step-son, and Obligatory Chinese Actress (Because Chinese Box Office. Even as a Malaysian-Chinese, I rolled my eyes as soon as I saw her). There's no other characters worth mentioning, other than a noble African warlord (Dredd's unlucky medic officer at Peach Trees) who managed to out-acted others with minimal efforts. The only one person who I didn't expected to care about is surprisingly Dr. Data himself. Dr. Data was too quirky in the original to the point I thought it's pointless to rendered him in a coma, but damn, his character was quite a step-up here and I almost did cry for him at one moment there.
"Good gosh, my career still continuing to suck. At least Bro Liam ain't gonna be as cool after his stint as a God."
Action-wise, they're quite competent. The destruction of China/Thailand, London, and good ol' USA are particularly fun to watch. The dogfights and all are good as well, but all the action scenes seems to lack one very important aspect: tension. In the original, we humans are pretty much hopeless against the aliens, who have weapons that could blew up a city of 15 meter radius with a touch of a button, fast spacecrafts with shields, and telephatic aliens that could immobilize an army. It would take miracles (And colds) for us humans to kick their butts with even our best 1996 technology. Thus, you'll feel some tension on how they managed to survive against insurmountable odds, even if you know how it'll ends. Here? Everyone seems to aware on what situation they're on, and go with it in a somewhat relaxing way, whether it's flying through debris or fighting against Miniships. The alien didn't advance their weaponry much either to be a real threat to mankind. In the end, you just don't feel that things are tougher than before and mankind felt as vulnerable and weak as before.
Last but not least, the movie's sense of humor really did took down a notch. Don't get me wrong, this movie is still loaded with funny moments and cheese, but overall, it feels like a darker and more serious sequel. I guess the exclusion of Will Smith really did hurt the movie.
After everything that is going on, there's the infamous sequel-baiting, which somehow reminding you of some certain BioWare game. As far as blockbusters go, this is still a really good XCOM movie. Yes, a lot of it are disappointing when compared to the original, but there are worse movie to spend your time and money on when you felt bored.