Twenty years after the international community recovered from a devastating alien invasion that killed over three billion people, the United Nations has set up the Earth Space Defense (ESD), a united global defense and research program that serves as Earth’s early warning system for extraterrestrial threats in addition to develop and apply science and technology. The main defense force uses advanced technology salvaged from the remains of the alien forces, with military forces assembled on the Moon, Mars, and Saturn’s moon, Rhea, while the Area 51 base has become the ESD Headquarters.
Two weeks ago, the world is preparing to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their survival against the alien invasion. In African, ESD Director David Levinson meets with Doctor Catherine Marceaux and warlord Dikembe Umbutu, who leads him to an intact alien destroyer. Aboard the ship, they discover that the ship was drilling a hole into the ground and that the aliens sent a distress call to their brethren before their defeat. Furthermore, Umbutu and former U.S. President Thomas Whitmore are among those who are telepathically linked with the aliens ever since their personal encounters with them. At Area 51, General Joshua Adams and his staff lose contact with the Rhea base, and Doctor Brakish Okun awakens after a twenty-year coma and is also psychically bonded with the aliens.
On July 3, a spherical ship with technology different from the aliens’ emerges from a wormhole near the ESD’s Moon defense headquarters. Levinson believes that it belongs to another extraterrestrial race that might be benevolent and urges the world’s governments not to attack, but they vote to shoot it down regardless.
On July 4, against orders, ESD pilot Jake Morrison picks up Levinson, Marceaux, Umbutu, and Floyd Rosenberg on aspace tug and they head for the wreckage, where they recover a container. A massive alien mothership suddenly emerges and destroys Earth’s planetary defenses before approaching the planet. The space tug is caught in the mothership’s artificial gravitational pull, which also lifts structures from across all of Asia. The debris falls all over Europe, where the tug manages to escape before heading on to Area 51. The mothership lands over north of the Atlantic Ocean, destroying cities on the Eastern Seaboard, and begins drilling a hole through the bottom of it to harvest the heat of the core, which will destroy Earth’s magnetic field in the process.
Whitmore interrogates one of the aliens held in captivity from the war. The ESD learns that the aliens, while similar to Earth’s insect kingdom, are not like locusts as they initially believed but exist in eusociality and that one of their colossal Queens is commanding the invasion. Levinson concludes that, if they kill the supervising Queen, her forces will retreat to find another one. An ESD fleet of hybrid fighters, led by Captain Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, stages a counterattack on the Queen’s chamber, but they are caught in a trap within the mothership, which wipes out nearly the entire unit. Dylan, along with Jake and fellow pilots Charlie Miller and Rain Lao, manages to escape by hijacking two enemy attack crafts and pursue the Queen’s personal ship, which is heading to Area 51 with its fleet. The aliens also raid the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, killing U.S. President Elizabeth Lanford along with most of her Cabinet. General Adams is immediately sworn in as Lanford’s successor at Area 51. In Area 51, Okun opens the container and releases a giant white sphere of virtual intelligence; indeed benevolent, it reveals that its mission is to evacuate survivors from worlds targeted by the aliens, whom it calls Harvesters, and that it has gathered a viable resistance force that the Harvesters will stop at nothing to crush.
Knowing the Queen has become aware of its presence, the sphere’s sentience wants the ESD to destroy it to prevent the Harvesters from learning the resistance’s secrets. The ESD forces instead hide the sphere in an isolation chamber, and use the space tug with a transmitter copying the sphere’s signal as a decoy to lure the Queen’s ship to a trap filled with fusion weapons. Against his daughter Patricia’s wishes, Whitmore volunteers to pilot the space tug on the suicide mission, leading the warship to the trap and detonates the bombs, sacrificing himself, and destroying the ship. However, the Queen survives using an energy shield on her biomechanical suit. Patricia personally flies a hybrid fighter that neutralizes the Queen’s shield, allowing Dylan’s arriving party to kill the Queen before she can take the sphere. With the Queen dead, the mothership stops drilling and retreats from Earth. Okun reveals the sphere has asked humanity to lead the resistance to the Harvesters’ home world, and offered them new technology in preparation to take the fight to the Harvesters.
So, just like TRON Legacy, after 20 years of build up, it didn’t live up to expectations. While the effects and action sequences looked cool, it just reminded me so much of Robotech (or Macross, if you’re not into that), so much so that I kept wondering when the Hybrid Fighters were switching to Battloid Mode. The returning cast did great, Jeff Goldblum was just as awkward as he was in the original. Brent Spiner was great too, but was slightly less hammy than in the original. The new cast were decent, Jesse Usher, was did an adequate job as Dylan Hiller, but he just wasn’t as memorable as Will Smith. Liam Hemsworth was boring, and to coincide with the Robotech parallels, throughout the movie I kept referring to him as Roy Fokker. And, lastly I really hate how Roland Emmerich just assumes there’s going to be a part 3, unfortunately, since the movie bombed I don’t think that’s happening.
Overall, the movie was just average, while it had some good moments, they were too far and between, and in the end, it just didn’t live up to the original, and just made me want to watch Robotech/Macross.
Also, I’m well aware of the controversy about Mae Whitman not being in the movie, but I didn’t feel the need to comment on that. I highly recommend checking out Eric Rodriguez’s (Blockbuster Buster) VLOG about it, he made good points about the subject.
RANK: 2 Out of 5
Next time we move past cheap Macross ripoffs and go Beyond