The aliens are back (both literally and figuratively)!

AlienShip(that’s a big-ass space ship!)

It goes without saying that spoilers are likely, so if you don’t wish to know any, stop reading round about now.

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Still here? Then I’ll assume you don’t mind having the major plot points ruined for you.

I’ll swing back to my first sentence for a moment. It’s been 20 years, both since the first film and the in-universe events of the first film, and the world – both in-universe and in reality, has changed quite a lot since 1996. For us, as real people, we have become spoiled by fancy FX and explosions, and there’s been an unhealthy rise in cynicism over the years too. The feelgood factor that accompanied Indepedence Day 20 years ago has long passed.

In-universe, the world has rebuilt and alien technology has been instrumental in that effort, whilst humanity has become more united than ever before. The idea that the aliens could return is certainly a factor in that unity, as well as the efforts to build new, powerful weapons.

It has also made humanity harsh toward the outside world. A major plot point of this movie is the arrival of another species, and their rather sudden appearance triggers a violent reaction from world leaders, who have the craft shot down in a classic display of shoot first, ask questions later. It’s a reaction that’s understandable in the wake of what happened last time, but by the end of the film it’s part of a rather contrived set of events.

The Bad

I mentioned just now contrived events, and this film sets up a few of them. By creating such a powerful enemy, the writers boxed themselves into a corner and ended up relying on a deux ex machina to get them out of it. This wasn’t actually necessary, in this ‘kat’s humble view. The time and effort was taken to show that humanity had rebuilt, and all of their efforts were for nothing. It was as though a giant reset button had been pressed.

The new characters were okay, but none of the characters, new or old, were especially noteworthy (with one exception). It felt like the original stars were going through the motions, and one character from the original film meets a rather hasty end.

I like Jeff Goldblum, but he plays himself in pretty much every film I’ve seen him in, and this is no exception. Former president Whitmore’s heroic sacrifice is telegraphed pretty early on, and the appearance of Doctor Levinson’s father led to a completely unecessary sequence of events that felt shoehorned.

The Good

This is a cheesefeast of a film in so many ways, but then, the first film was too, and I don’t mind that. The FX are brilliant and the staging and set-pieces are excellent. A lot of work has gone into showing what a world 20 years on from the first invasion looks like, and the destruction of said world is visually handled very well.

DogFight(the action sequences looked good)

We get to see more of the aliens. They look quite menacing and are hard to kill, so they present themselves as formidable opponents.

Brent Spiner steals the show as Doctor Okun, reprising his role as the eccentric scientist from the first film. He injects a bit of humour into proceedings, but is not about comic relief. We were told in the original movie he was a genius – well, he gives us glimpses as to why in this film.

DrOkan(Brent Spiner is the best thing about this movie)

Could I say this is as good a film as the original? No, I can’t claim that. It is not (despite my reservations from earlier) a bad movie, and is an enjoyable way to whittle down a couple of hours. There’s a clear setup for a third film, so we shall see how that pans out.

All in all, 7.5/10

Thursday 23rd June 2016 is going to be remembered as a pivotal day in British history. Voters will hit the polling booths up and down the country to decide if we remain a part of the European Union, or if we leave. The ramifications of this decision will impact not only us but our children, and their children, so it is vital we get it right.

There’s been a lot of scare-mongering, from both sides of the debate. The Remain campaign promises economic misery if we go, whilst Brexit insist we’ll have an immigration and sovereignty nightmare if we stay.

Personally, and really due to what my gut tells me, I believe we should remain.  The EU is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a complete leap in the dark to leave, not least of economically, and several major businesses are suggesting there will be major problems for us if we go.

There’s also the opinions of a wide range of political figures, scientists, economic figures and historians:

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Brexit campaigners can (and have) pointed to how non-EU nations have negotiated trade arrangements with the EU, but negotiation is a two-way process; there are no promises we’ll be able to get similar deals. The EU wants us to stay – will they make it easy for us to go it alone? That might seem manipulative, but Britain contributes a great deal to the EU, and this is a barrel we can hold them over as much as they can do to us. It’s in everyone’s interests for Britain to stay.

So, I’ll be voting remain.

So far 2016 has been quite an intriguing year for Formula 1, and the venture to the new street circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, promised much in entertainment, with blistering straights and tight, windy corners – so why is it that the race itself felt quite dull?

It could be the ease of overtaking on the main straight, with DRS making it incredibly simple. Nearly every move was made with the assistance of this mechanism, and it was far too easy for the attacking driver. It could be the ease of Rosberg’s 19th career win, which was made straightforward by Hamilton’s crash in qualifying. Neither Ricciardo nor Vettel were able to challenge Rosberg off the line, and he would race to a dominant win, leading every lap. Hamilton, for his part, started 10th and finished fifth, but will have every reason to be disappointed with himself following his error in qualifying.

Praise needs to be offered to Perez. The Force India driver now has his second podium of the year, finishing in a highly credible third. He actually qualified in second, but a five-place penalty robbed him of starting there. Instead he kept a cool, composed head to claw his way back up the order. He was assisted to a point by Raikkonen picking up a time penalty, but Perez still made the point of passing the Ferrari late on, to emphasise the point.

The end result is that Rosberg has extended his championship lead to 24 points over a dejected Hamilton, and it will be interesting to see where both of them go from here.

Job done, from one perspective. England are through to the knockout stages of Euro 2016 and have therefore met the minimum expected requirement of them in the tournament, but a very different starting lineup for England ultimately did not deliver the incisive performances of the first two games. It would be fair to say this was uninspiring from England, against an average Slovakia side.

England saw the majority of the ball but with a number of changes to the side that started the previous two games, there was always the possibility of a disjointed or unpolished performance and this was exactly what England delivered. There was a lot of huff and puff from the players, but aside from one moment where Lallana should have done better, it’s difficult to recall one clear cut chance in the entire game. There was never any danger of losing the game, but England could not find a way through a well-organised Slovakia side, and not for the first time the lack of an end product has been a problem. With Wales crushing Russia 3-0 to top the group, England may yet end up with an unfavourable 2nd round match-up.

One thing is certain. England will need to raise their game.

This isn’t going to be a long post. I don’t know enough about Anton Yelchin to write in detail. His life was I fear too short for me to go into detail. I knew him as Chekov in the Star Trek reboot, and also as Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation. His has been an all-too brief life, but in that time he has touched the souls of millions, and his star was rising. Rest in Peace Anton.

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