If you’re a fan of the original Independence Day movie, you know the rest of that awesome Randy Quaid line. Well guess what KSR readers, we finally got our first glimpse of Independence Day: Resurgence, the 20 years later sequel. On Sunday, the trailer was released along with a website! There is quite a bit of information to dissect regarding who is and isn’t back, what the movie is about, and what we can expect from the new movie. We’re going to break down a lot of the information here and see what we can deduce. First, though, I want to catch up anybody who has not seen the first movie. **Spoiler aler**In 1996 aliens invaded the world, they blew up just about everything, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum go to space to kill the aliens while Bill Pullman pumps everyone up, and the aforementioned Quaid saves the day with his kamikaze flight into one of the alien ships. There is a little more meat on the bone than that, but not much. This movie is a sci-fi action flick to the max, scuttling advanced character development and plot in favor of explosions, special effects, and one of the best presidential speeches in film history. I love Independence Day and watch it fairly regularly. Smith, Goldblum, and Pullman give fun performances buoyed by great supporting turns from Judd Hirsch, Robert Loggia, and of course, Quaid. The movie launched a run of “Will Smith saves the world from a sci-fi threat” movies which lasted for a solid decade. Independence Day has some detractors out there, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s a good, not great, movie and a lot of fun to watch.
Having said all that, let’s talk about this sequel. The sequel(s) has been in the works for several years now, but was questionable for a long time due to the unknown status of Smith. Back in 2012, when talks for the sequel first picked up steam, Smith apparently demanded a $50 million salary to shoot a second and third installment of the franchise. This was eventually declined by Fox. Returning director Roland Emerich was in good shape because he had two scripts, one with and one without Smith, so the project was able to go forward without much hesitation once Smith’s negotiations ended. According to Emmerich, Smith wanted in but after talks reached a standstill he decided he’d rather not do more sequels. Instead he went on to make After Earth with his son, Jaden. Unsurprisingly, Smith has now signed on to do two more Bad Boys movies.
Smith’s absence aside, Resurgence seems to have all the necessary ingredients to be a good movie. Goldblum, Pullman, and several others are reprising their roles from the original. From the trailer we learn that in the twenty years since the first attack, the world has been rebuilding and preparing for an inevitable return. They have harvested alien technology and used it to bolster their defenses. The clips of the invasion indicate that the aliens appear to have upgraded their weaponry as well. The attacking ships are larger and the aliens even look like they have ground troops. We also see that Dylan Hiller, the son of Steven Hiller (Smith), has followed in his father’s footsteps and is now a fighter pilot as well. By itself, the trailer is not much more than hype piece. We see the returning faces, some explosions, some drama, but not much else to let us know what’s gone on in the last twenty years.
The website I alluded to earlier is where much of this information can be found. The site contains an interactive timeline of key events over the last twenty years which outline how the world responded in the aftermath of the 1996 attacks and how the key characters remain involved in the story. It’s a really intriguing way to bring viewers up to speed and I encourage you to check it out. There are seventeen moments on the timeline, but here are the five I think will be the most important:
April 27, 2007- World Mourns Col. Hiller: This is how you take care of the Will Smith issue. Hiller, played by Smith in the first film, is said to have died while test piloting a human/alien hybrid technology aircraft. This could be a ploy, setting up a surprise cameo. Given the documented history of Smith and the film, though, I believe this is simply a plot device explaining Smith’s absence.
July 3, 2001- Congo Ground War: Here we learn that a lone group of alien survivors have been alive since the 1996 attack and are being hunted by the local government. The government of Congo refuses help from the Earth Space Defense Program (ESD), and that the remaining aliens are eventually wiped out by 2006. The interesting questions here are: why would they refuse help? and are these remaining aliens able to lay some groundwork to assist with the following invasion?
May 25, 1998- ESD Formed: The United Nations forms this organization and names David Levinson (Goldblum) its head. The ESD is tasked with developing alien/human hybrid technology and setting up a space defense to prevent another surprise attack.
March 21, 2009- Moon Base Operational: In the synopsis for this moment we learn that the Moonbase is the first of many planetary monitoring stations used to track potential threats in the solar system. This demonstrates how significantly technology has advanced, but it also highlights something else. We see in the trailer that aliens do make it to Earth so either these planetary stations completely failed or alien technology advanced even further than ours. The moonbase may also explain what appears to be fighting on another planet in the trailer.
August 19, 2014- Next Gen Hybrid Fighter: Remember when I said the first movie was largely about special effects. These fighters are shown in the trailer briefly and look really good. The product of over fifteen years of research and development, these fighters are meant to level the playing field against aliens. The reason I highlight this is the potential for some really entertaining action sequences and this is one of those pieces of information which will be nice to know going into the movie. All of the moments will likely be touched on in some capacity in the film, but having access to the information early will make it a lot easier to understand the world as it exists twenty years after the initial attack.
In a nutshell I’m really excited for Independence Day: Resurgence. There are some aspects that should cause me to temper my expectations such as Smith’s absence and the fact this is going to be the second entry into a three-part story which means the ending won’t be very conclusive. Despite these potential setbacks I really like the direction Emmerich and the writers decided to take. The sequel appears to address the time lapse well which should allow the film to not spend too much time playing catch up. The mix of returning and new actors will help the continuity between the first and second films while providing a good character base from which to transition to the third movie. Overall, June 24th, 2016 is now circled on my calendar and I’m pretty pumped.