In short, the visuals were spectacular (about half a dozen SFX firms were credited), with magnificent sets and computer graphics sequences. The characterisation and plot was pure Hollywood formula, with a very linear plot and characters having only the simplest of motivations, and, half the time, thinking in schmaltzy Hallmark-card truisms. Mind you, it being from Roland Emmerich (and the sub-Spielbergian sequence from Independence Day of the towheaded little boy and his dog watching Will Smith take off to battle the aliens still sticks in my mind), I wasn't expecting anything above the lowest common denominator in this respect, so I wasn't disappointed. (Some day, I'd like to see a visually spectacular film whose characters are more than focus-grouped, computer-plotted cardboard cutouts, but I digress.) The science, of course, was exaggerated by orders of magnitude to make it more spectacular (running afoul of the laws of physics in places, such as the instant temperature drop), and some of the details were a bit geographically ignorant (such as the scene with the whisky in the Scottish research station; someone there either assumed that Scotland was part of England or that most Americans wouldn't know otherwise; I wonder how well this film will do in, say, Glasgow or somewhere). Then again, none of that was a huge surprise; as I said, it's special-effects porn, and porn films of any variety aren't known for their plotting or characterisation.