Twenty years ago Roland Emmerich’s jingoistic behemoth “Independence Day” was a summer smash, a wildly over-the-top action flick about an alien invasion of earth that was crammed with state-of-the-art special effects, one of which—the annihilation of the White House—initiated what became a trope in later movies of its type, the destruction of well-known landmarks. It was silly popcorn fare done up on a massive scale, but it was a huge hit. It may seem surprising that it didn’t spawn an immediate sequel, but the franchise business wasn’t as deeply ingrained in the Hollywood mentality as it is today. So Emmerich and his partner, actor-turned-writer Dean Devlin, went on to other things. Now, after two full decades, they’ve taken on the challenge of duplicating their old success. Was it worth the wait? And has the movie’s time passed?

Well, in purely visual terms, “Independence Day: Resurgence” definitely takes advantage of all the progress that’s been made over the past twenty years. It’s positively bursting to the brim with gigantic gizmos, spaceship battles, firefights with laser bazookas, extraterrestrial vessels emitting death rays, scenes of urban devastation, enormous tidal waves, and, of course, the obligatory collapse of recognizable locales. (The fact that London Bridge falls down spectacularly in a film opening on the very day that Britain’s vote to exit the EU was announced is weirdly coincidental, while a bit involving the White House this time around is one of the picture’s better jokes.)

When one moves from all the action pizzazz to the more substantive aspects of the movie, however, things are much different. The original “Day” was incredibly dumb, of course, replete with juvenile humor and gee-whiz heroics that reminded you of a 1940s serial, but this one doubles down on the stupidity level. The characters are stock comic-book figures, the dialogue hilariously cornball, and the plot mechanics ludicrous. The premise is that though a unified, peaceful earth has prepared for a possible second wave (clearly this is an alternate universe), when the threat actually surfaces all the defense mechanisms prove entirely inadequate. The aliens arrive with the purpose of extracting the earth’s molten core in order to feed their machines of conquest—an idea that would have been hoary when Flash Gordon first encountered Ming the Merciless. No more imaginative is the notion that their forces are organized in the fashion of an anthill or beehive, so that stopping the destruction of humanity will mean taking out their queen, whose demise will ensure instant victory.

Securing that end—spoiler alert: earth survives!—will involve a virtual army of human warriors, old and new. Returnees include President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), older and feebler but no less defiant; science guy David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) and his eternally kvetshing father Julius (Judd Hirsch); wild-eyed scientist Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner), who’s been cared for during a two-decade coma by his friend Dr. Isaacs (John Storey); and even General Grey (the late Robert Loggia, appearing in a single scene and looking terribly frail). Steven Hiller (Will Smith), the gung-ho pilot of the initial film, is missing—he’s said to have died in some sort of training accident, and glimpses of pictures and portraits of him are strewn throughout the footage. But he’s replaced, to some extent, by his son Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), a captain in the air force who’s dourer than his dad but still treated as his surrogate.

He’s joined by lots of other newbies. The most notable is Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), a reckless, wise-cracking pilot who’s a great rival of Dylan’s until they’re not, and is the boyfriend of grown-up Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), the daughter of the former president and a pilot herself, though now some sort of aide to current President Lanford (Sela Ward). Jake has a best buddy, loquacious, horny Charlie Miller (Travis Tope), who’s determined to romance new Chinese pilot Rain Lao (Angelababy, whose presence is obviously directed to what’s quickly become a major part of the world market). Then there are Dikembe Umbutu, an African warlord (though as played by Deobia Oparei an uncommonly heroic one) who possesses particular skill at hand-to-hand combat with aliens; Floyd Rosenberg (Nicolas Wright), a nervous federal numbers guy who finds his machismo in the heat of battle; Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a journalist who bickers with the younger Levinson before becoming his love interest; and General Adams (William Fichtner), a seasoned military man who’s thrust into higher and higher positions as members of the bureaucracy bite the dust.

That list is far from complete, but it suggests the number of characters the movie juggles as the script creates plot threads for various combinations of them, cutting from one to another and back again at a dizzying pace. The editing by Adam Wolfe is, in fact, one of the movie’s stronger elements; apart from abrupt stoppages for a few ponderous speeches—Pullman gets one to match his oration from the first movie, of course, though it’s much less effective this time around—the picture moves at a good clip, coming it at a bit under two hours, a rarity among today’s would-be blockbusters. The quickness, unhappily, doesn’t obscure the ridiculousness of the situations, which of course involve setbacks and last-second rebounds. Nor can it obliterate the lameness of the dialogue, which is filled with puerile banter and clichés that hearken back to B-movies of the distant past; though the actors gamely deliver it with tongues firmly in cheek, it still elicits smirks and groans.

Whether you take it all as enjoyable hokum or deride it as dreary genre overkill, the movie certainly ends splashily, with Levinson and his cohorts, including the intrepid airmen who have survived a “Star Wars”-style assault on the mother ship, plotting a trap for the alien queen in the desert of Area 51 while the elder Levinson careens onto the battlefield driving a school bus full of children (as well as a cute dog that, in a scene modeled on one in the first movie, they must pause to save). By that time the goofiness quotient has become astronomical, and you’ll find the result either exhilaratingly off-the-wall or tiresomely dragged-out. The only saving grace is that the movie doesn’t take itself seriously, as so many of today’s comic-book flicks do. On the other hand, it closes with the revelation that having waited twenty years to make an initial sequel to their 1996 hit, Emmerich and Devlin are now—through the introduction of a second race of aliens to the mix—preparing the way for an immediate follow-up to “Resurgence.” Just what we need—another would-be franchise.