Maverick fighter pilot Liam Hemsworth steps up to save the day when aliens again wreak havoc in Roland Emmerich’s follow-up to his 1996 blockbuster.

Emmerich goes to town with the devastation and ludicrous plotting, but devotes less care to the stuff in between.

Hemsworth and Jessie Usher, as his hotshot flying ace rival (the son of Will Smith’s absent character), don’t get anything particularly snappy to say and when these young bloods take to the air the CGI-laden scenes of aerial combat are more confusing than breathtaking.

Fortunately, the old hands – notably Jeff Goldblum’s brilliant computer whiz, Bill Pullman’s former president and Brent Spiner’s eccentric boffin – are much more engaging and the action kicks up a gear in its final stages.

Indeed, the film is at its most exciting and successful when it is also at its cheesiest, with a school bus full of kids careering across the Nevada desert, alien monster in hot pursuit, as the countdown to Earth’s total annihilation ticks down towards zero.