The movie takes place 20 years after the first film where humanity has been living in unity and prosperity ever since the aliens were defeated, all the while preparing for the next attack thanks to the advancements made from remains of the alien technology. The aliens come back, and now we have our movie. And to be honest, this would have worked fine if it was just limited to this premise. But NOPE.
Now for a 2 hour movie, it was just too crammed up, right from the start. Too many characters, too many subplots etc. Everything just felt like it was rushed to some extent. Even the scenes that were entertaining felt rushed. And when you add poor editing/scene placement, things don't look good. Often at times, the movie would cut from the action to some slow scene trying to develop a character, which would ruin the momentum and pacing.
Old characters returned, apart from Will Smith, and I gotta admit, it was really nostalgic seeing them again. Some had very limited and useless roles and were shoehorned into the movie, but still their presence was welcomed as new characters were meh. And they were the ones that carried the movie somewhat. Jeff Goldblum was plain fun. Hell, he had to overdo it at times in order to make up for the lack of energy by everyone else around him. Mr. President was good in his role and I liked how everyone kept calling him Mr. President, even though he is not the president anymore ( :p ). It felt like they were the only ones trying to have some fun. New characters were all bland and boring, save for Chris Hemsworth. He alone had some energy, which was reminiscent of Will Smith's character.
As for the action, well it was definitely entertaining at times. The scale was IMMENSE. But without any proper build up and time devoted to it, the invasion just didn't had that FEEL of the original. Which is a HUGE shame considering the technology now and things that can be done. Which brings me to CGI. Most of it was good, especially the main destruction of cities scene. But the movie overused green screen and that was quite apparent, especially and oddly enough in conversation scenes. Many of the backgrounds had this real fake-ey feel to it. Also, bulk of the action comprises of air battles and it got old really fast.
There are some references to the previous film, as well as reuse of its soundtrack in some few scenes, which really gets the nostalgia train running. The film's own soundtrack was OK.
The original worked so well, for me, because the alien invasion was interwoven so nicely with the introduction of the characters. The build up was awesome and there was this genuine feeling of hopelessness. And most importantly, the movie had good old energy (Especially thanks to Will Smith). Something this movie is sorely lacking.
This is a big disappointment, probably the biggest disappointment in recent years for me. Even then, it is not AS BAD as everyone else is saying. There is some entertainment to be had. But the movie just throws back mediocrity right after when it starts getting good. And the way it ended, the whole last act infact, was super poorly handled. Watch the original. Give this a try if you really feel like it after watching that.