By destroying the American landscape in 1996's Independence Day, Roland Emmerich also changed the landscape of blockbuster movies, dawning a new era of explosions, cataclysmic destruction and breathtaking special effects. Two decades later, the director returns with Resurgence, but can the sequel live up to lofty expectations set by the cult classic?
20 years ago, the original blew the minds of audiences, with innovative visual effects creating an apocalyptic vision on a scale never seen before. Will Smith starred in the lead as Captain Steven Hiller, a charming and alien assaulting pilot with a crucial role in saving the Earth from invasion.
Hiller's performance was also intertwined with backstories for prominent destruction preventers in the form of fictional and fantastic US President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum). Between them, the trio humanized a far fetched story, providing an important and relatable gravitational force at its center.
A Long Awaited Sequel
Considering the film's popularity, it is perhaps surprising a follow up has taken so long to reach our screens. As with the delay with James Cameron's Avatar, Independence Day 2 was held back until Emmerich felt he had the technology at his disposal to create a truly destructive masterpiece on an even bigger scale.
Emmerich realised the idea and the application finally matched each other during the production of 2012 in 2009. From then on, it was all aboard the Mothership for Independence Day 2. In an interview with iO9, Emmerich explained his vision, and the delay between films. He said:
“I had one big idea which was to create a totally different world that’s enhanced by alien technology and that the whole world was united. Secondly, I said ‘Okay, so, the Mothership this time, comes down to Earth and it’s as big as the Atlantic Ocean.’ These two ideas pretty much drive the film.”
R.I.P Steven Hiller
Although a number of the original cast are on board to reprise there roles — including Goldblum and Pullman and — one of the biggest dampeners to sequel excitement was the news Will Smith wouldn't be returning.
In real terms, this was a result of scheduling and cost, but in fictional terms the viral promotional website for Independence Day: Resurgence, WarOf1996.com explained Hillar's death as follows:
While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller. Hiller’s valor in the War of ‘96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and son Dylan.
Bigger, Scarier... Better?
So here we are, 20 years later, sans Will Smith. Some fans may've had lingering doubts, but then this trailer dropped:
And all of a sudden, fears were eased. Did anyone really doubt the master of destruction, Emmerich, couldn't deliver? We won't get Will Smith punching an alien in the face, but the scale of the special effects are immense, with the trailer suggesting that this film will be a visual extravaganza and a callback to 90's blockbusters.
While humans have been busy expanding on alien technology, including guns firing lasers (LASERS!) to improve their own defence systems, the extra terrestrial terrorists have also been doing their homework.
The Mothership itself, which is the size of the Atlantic Ocean, is terrifyingly grandiose. It even has its own gravitational force! The plot is essentially Independence Day on steroids, with the pumped up alien threat returning with a blood thirsty and vengeful streak.
Plus, Jeff Goldblum looks delightfully enjoyable to watch, and will get the airtime he deserves, why Pullman's ex-President Whitmore is still as altruistic and inspirational. Add up and coming stars Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe into the mix (the pair also share a romantic interest) and you have all the recipes for an IMAX experience of the biggest proportions. I'm sold.