“We always knew they would come back.”
There are literally dozens of us who consider Independence Day our favorite movie of all time. I confess this for myself with no reservation whatsoever. Empire Strikes Back is good. Back to the Future is better. But Independence Day…well, that’s just the pinnacle of cinematic achievements, if you ask me. It can’t be topped.
Independence Day has everything anyone could ever want out of a movie. Will Smith as the rugged, hilariously glib yet sensitive fighter pilot, Captain Steven Hiller. Jeff Goldblum as the tech savvy MIT dropout who cracks the alien code embedded in Earth’s satellites, David Levinson. His ex-wife happens to be the top assistant to the President of the United States, and say what you will about Daniel Day Lewis and the All State Guy’s performances, I’m sure we can all agree that the greatest POTUS ever cast was, without a doubt, Bill Pullman in ID4.
But wait! Don’t forget about Randy Quaid! YES! Uncle Eddie stars as the drunken crop duster who claims to have abducted by aliens. And he’s the first to tell everybody that he knows exactly what’s going to happen when those creatures make it into our atmosphere: “They’re going to kill us all!”
And oh, they try. And they’re wildly successful those buggers. They take out a dozen or so major cities – New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, most major European cities. The Americans unsuccessfully try to “nuke the bastards” over Houston, so that city goes to crap too. But just when everything seems lost, Jeff Goldblum saves the day by giving the alien technology a computer virus – “a cold” – long enough for Randy Quaid and others to fly in there and “take em down…do your…stuff.”
Queue the dramatic presidential speech before the attack – only the third most dramatic moment in United States history following only Al Michael’s call of the USA hockey team defeating the Soviet Union in the 1980 winter Olympics, and – also from Miracle (my 4th favorite movie) – Herb Brooks’s pre-game locker room speech about tonight being “your time.” Pullman works a few dozen make shift “fighter pilots” into a victorious reverie before they all fly off to attack the giant saucer hovering above Las Vegas.
And wouldn’t you know it, but Goldblum’s crazy harebrained idea works. Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum pilot an undercover alien spacecraft into the mothership. They upload the virus. They get stuck. They smoke celebratory “fat lady sings” cigars after the mission turns into a suicide mission. They deploy the nuke with a 30 second timer. They somehow manage to escape the mothership, and – just before the alien craft explodes in a Death Star II white orb – Goldblum regretfully does an Elvis impersonation.
Meanwhile, Randy Quaid and President Bill Pullman are engaging in close-range maneuvers with the local craft over Vegas. Everyone uses up their missiles except Quaid, who has to fly his craft straight into the ship’s mega-weapon in order for it to go off. It does. And the entire ship goes down.
They spread the word, and soon there are Randy Quaids in every nation taking out hostile alien crafts around the world.
Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum land in the desert. They’re somehow still smoking the same cigars, because somehow traveling between Earth and space is 15-20 minute process.
But that was 20 years ago. That was the War of 1996, as they’re calling it. It lasted just two days, but cost millions of lives. This is 2016, and the buggers have finally come back, just like we all knew they would.
About a year ago I remember hearing through the grapevine that they were making a sequel. I probably danced a jig of some sort in the moment, but then promptly forgot about it until Sunday afternoon when they released the trailer for “Independence Day: Resurgence” during a mid-afternoon Cleveland Browns football game. As all major movie releases do.
I had a mild freak out as it aired. I hopped on YouTube and watched the trailer again. And again. Things escalated quickly, one thing led to another, and I changed my Twitter avatar to a screen shot of Jeff Goldblum in an astronaut suit.
The trailer looks awesome. It’s embedded at the top if you want to take a look. Or it’s on YouTube here.
In a simultaneously executed marketing maneuver, a website was launched with the chronology of events that’s taken place in the world since 1996. The website is Warof1996.com if you’d like to be fully up to date.
Essentially, there are 6 major bits of information we need to know about the earth in 2016…
- Twenty Years of World Peace – Earth has experienced 20 years of World Peace essentially, since the enemy is no longer each other, but is now a different species entirely.
- Earth Space Defense – Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is appointed as head over the Earth Space Defense program (ESD).
- Technology – The earthlings learn to utilize the alien technology, creating things like “smart phones, bladeless fans, drones and airport security scanners.”
- RIP Will Smith – Tragically, we learn that Will Smith’s character, Steven Hiller, has died. Apparently while they were trying to harness the alien’s weapons there was some malfunction and he ‘sploded. Sounds like they just didn’t have Willie in the budget.
- Moon Base – There’s a base on the moon that is fully operational (and, perhaps, based on one of the images on the website, bases being built or planned for Mars and one of Saturn’s moons). I can’t find anything on the site that denies the fact that this Moon Security Base is actually called the Death Star and is also a mega-weapon of some sort. It’s a working title, for now.
- Aliens in the Congo – Okay this is the final and probably most important bit of info: when all the Randy Quaids were able to take down the alien ships, one of them went down in Central Africa, in the Congo, and had survivors! According to the interactive site, it took them 10 years to neutralize that group, but based on the trailer I just watched, it seems to me this is where everything new begins.
There’s more than that, but it’s the nuts and bolts. I encourage you to take a gander at the site yourself. Again, warof1996.com.
None of that is a spoiler alert, by the way. All of that is stuff they want you to know. It’s not like this Star Wars: Episode VII secrecy business. ID4 is freely giving you the storyline between July 4, 1996, and July 4, 2016.
The world is united, but, again, we always knew they would come back.
Can we talk about the trailer? I’d like to talk about the trailer. Let’s take it scene by scene…
It opens with a convoy headed, presumably, into the Congo where the aliens survived in some capacity for a decade after their initial invasion. Some woman has found something that only Jeff Goldblum would understand…
..creepy alien skeletal structures? They’re present, but is this what they’ve found? It’s not stated that they’re out in the Congo, but the terrain certainly would suggest it and those structures look a lot like these from the @IndependenceDay twitter handle advertising the interactive site:
My best guess: ever since they finally took out the surviving aliens, archeologists and anthropologists and scientists have been going ape trying to learn about the species. And they’ve found something, but it isn’t just these creepy remains that they found, but something much larger.
Enter Goldblum to raucous applause in theaters across the globe: “Oh my God.”
What is THAT?! Is it some sort of civilization? Are those ruins from the alien ship coming down back in 1996? What is it they are looking at from that bluff? Is it Mos Eisley? Hard to say, but whatever they found out there is likely some sort of signal that the aliens are returning, or, at minimum, not entirely dead.
Wait…Gale?! What are you doing here? It seems Liam Hemsworth is taking over the Will Smith role for the sequel. Here’s what I want to know – was it Will Smith’s decision to not come back, or was it Team ID4? On the one hand, Will probably doesn’t look as cool in dog tags in 2016, but c’mon, the guy just put out Focus where he plays the quintessentially smooth broseph. The Fresh Prince still gots it.
Anyway. Liam seems to be the new cool kid in town. Moving on..
Hemsworth flies one of these bad boys. They appear to be a hybrid fighter jet/alien craft. Kinda disappointing. They look more like a Nerf dart/football product than they do a plane or ship, but whatever.
Obligatory moon shadow shot.
Then it appears some men are playing laser tag. This suggests that unlike the original, there is actually going to be some individual battles between aliens and humans and not just between flying vessels. Hand to hand combat even. I’m assuming the gun this gentleman is holding is one of the updated technologies humans have managed to harness from the aliens. During this shot, there’s a gravely voice talking about how the aliens haunt his dreams, which ends by saying, “They’re coming back.” But who is talking?
Gasp. It’s Pullman! He’s hardly recognizable with his grey beard and receding hairline, but it’s him, and he’s as intense with his monologues as ever. In the original, the alien enters into the mind of Bill Pullman and takes him as a hostage or something. I was never totally clear how that worked. Anyway, after the fact, the President reveals that he saw it’s thoughts and saw what they planned to do. If Bill is saying that the aliens haunt his dreams, you wonder if the former POTUS is able to communicate or at least have some level of vision into their world and existence. It seems as though Pullman is the one who is first aware that they’re coming back.
And look there – it’s another familiar face! It’s Julius Levinson! The actor is Judd Hirsch, and he play’s Jeff Goldblum’s dad. The outspoken Jewish man is probably the most underrated character in the original. He has some of the greatest one-liners in ID4, and it’s encouraging to see that he’s making a return performance. But what is he looking at?
Ah. Of course. I tell you what, if Independence Day was able to win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects back in 1996, imagine what it’ll be able to accomplish in 2016?! I have high expectations, and this shot is a beautiful start.
Thus completes the set up. Now we enter into the sequence of characters we don’t know yet…
First up. This has to be Will Smith’s son, right? I mean, he’s the only black guy in the original, so it’s the only explanation. I’m assuming this is adult-Buckwheat until I hear otherwise. But what will his role be? It appear Liam is already filling the fighter pilot role. Perhaps this kid has some other purpose? He looks pretty fierce.
Next up…these three…
No idea. But I’m sure their plot line can’t be more riveting than the tertiary characters in the original. Randy Quaid’s three kids – the Responsibly Oldest Miguel, the Sickly Middle Child and the Angsty Crop Top Daughter from Mrs. Doubtfire – their roles are so vital to the story! I can’t wait to see what deeply moving parts these folks have.
I’ve only spent about 12 total hours in D.C., but that’s clearly the nation’s capitol. You can see the Capitol, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial in a line on the right. That smoke is where the White House sits, but it was blown up in the first movie, so this has to be a flashback or something – what it looked like out the window of a plane nearby when it was smoldering after the aliens moved on to Baltimore or whatever major city came next on their annihilation tour. Will there be flashbacks in Resurgence? Hmmmm.
It’s Hemsworth and Goldblum running on the moon while missiles or meteorites or something explode behind them. One of the two astronauts gets launched…not sure which one though. Things are starting to look like Armageddon.
The money shot. This appears to be inside some command center. On the War of 1996 website it says that the moon base is commanded from Bejing, China, but we just saw Goldblum on the moon, so my guess is this is inside the moon base. But since space travel only takes a cigar’s-length, it’s possible he could make the trek off-planet during the film.
She has to be the new President, right? The guys next to her start shooting through an open door moments later and she just stands there. Highly protected individual. Gotta be some politician or world leader.
Then there’s this scene with some woman chasing down a trio of helicopters. Sure reminds me of the scene when the First Lady’s chopper gets taken out by the White House explosion. As in the original, it seems that the battle is happening on two fronts simultaneously: Earthside and in space.
Okay, I think I’ve got it – Not Jaden Smith follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a fighter pilot too. Duh. While Gale follows Jeff Goldblum into space to do…whatever he’s doing up there.
Okay now it REALLY looks like Armageddon. What is that guy doing there?! He’s going to sabotage the whole mission by trying to revert to a secondary protocol against Bruce Willis’s orders! No! The drill has to keep going! Get more water on it to cool it down! It’ll work!
Then there’s a smattering of dramatic looking faces and some explosions that I can’t really make sense of, but the final moments are very clear:
The title screen followed by one more Goldblum one-liner…
“That is definitely…bigger than the last one.”
The aliens are coming back, and this time it’s more dire than 1996. Ahhhhhh!
Kinda makes you forget Star Wars is coming out this Friday, doesn’t it? Will it be as good as the original? Impossible. Without Will Smith it’s bound to lose some of what it had. Liam Hemsworth doesn’t provide the level of humor and whit Will Smith brought – but perhaps the other kid will be the humor while Liam is just the eye candy. Who knows.
That said…we’ve already gotten to see Jeff Goldblum in a spacesuit, so it’s got a lot going for it as it is, and as long as he’s the main character of this operation it’s bound to be a true treasure.
It’s too early for more theories than I’ve already mentioned. Thankfully, we have over 6 months to continue to surf the fan sites and dig into ID4 Reddit and what not to keep up with the overwhelming buzz a movie like this generates. Try to keep yourselves under control.
See you at the theater at midnight on June 24, 2016 – exactly 20 years after the first one was released.
This is going to be so fun.