It may sound strange now, but I remember Independence Day having a profound effect on me as a child. I never cared much for the jingoism or overly-saccharine speeches, but I’d never witnessed spectacle on that level before. Those mile-and-a-half wide ships (made all the more effective with Emmerich’s use of practical models) and leveled cityscapes made for captivating effects porn up on the big screen. And moreso than Jurassic Park or even Star Wars, it was the effects in ID4 that most captivated my young, impressionistic mind. That, and I just liked watching shit blow up good.
But even at 10, I never got the sense that Day demanded a follow-up, let alone two. Something about the end of that film, moreso than other summer blockbuster entries, feels finite. The aliens were defeated, Jeff Goldblum got the girl, Randy Quaid was haphazardly vaporized; it seemed like all goals had been accomplished. And with more than half the planet annihilated (including all major landmarks) I’m not entirely sure what’s left to destroy. But producer Dean Devlin says it’s okay. According to his interview with Total Film it’s, like, all about the love, man:
“Roland and I sat down and watched the original. It’s a different experience on television! The thing that really hit me about the movie is how much love there is in it: between the characters; that the filmmakers had making it; that the cast had for each other. As we’re approaching a sequel we’re focusing on that aspect of it. Because I think that was really the key as to why it worked for everyone. It was lovable.”
Devlin also confirms the working titles for the sequels to be ID Forever Parts 1 & 2. Oi. Because putting “Forever” next to your franchise title has worked so well in the past.
What works emotionally about Independence Day works at a very superficial level – and it’s masked by some top-level performances and high-grade destruction spectacle. I enjoy the first film for what it is, but it’s not a world I’m keen on revisiting. That said, if the trailer has Will Smith punching an alien in the face shouting “Welcome to Earff, forever!” I’m sold. Forever.