It can’t just be me that is simultaneously excited and depressed about the idea of the idea of not one but two sequels to 1996’s Independence Day. Admittedly, the reason why I’m excited has less to do with the movies themselves, and more to do with the potential for them to be absolutely, almost unwatchably terrible. But then, I’m not sure that I liked ID4 in the right way to begin with…
My love for Independence Day is one of those things that’s best characterized as “a guilty pleasure,” I think ; it’s one of those movies that I somehow don’t really like, but will somehow watch whenever it’s on television and I’m flipping between channels. There’s something about its lack of originality, its boldness and positively uplifting stupidity that’s extremely inviting, sucking you in even as you think to yourself “Wait, didn’t Jeff Goldblum used to be a good actor?” and “Seriously, the President is flying the jet now?” Maybe it’s that everyone involved in the movie seems to be completely committed to what they’re doing, taking it far more seriously than anyone else is – including the writers and director – something that seems to offer up some kind of schlocky sincerity that’s hard to resist.
These days, it feels as if cinema has taken the wrong lessons from Independence Day; you can trace a straight line from it through to things like the Transformers franchise or something like Skyline or Battle: Los Angeles, but along the way, this kind of movie has forgotten how to laugh at itself – or at least, wink at the audience – and that loss actually does somehow make the movies less fun, bringing a dramatic weight that drags the movie down and reminds you as much as anything of everything the stories are lacking (See Green Lantern, for example). It’s something that I’d hope that any sequels to the movie would seek to redress, moving in the opposite direction to come up with something that’s almost parody of the original movie.
Would it really be so terrible to see an Independence Day follow-on that plays up the action-hero nature of its characters to truly comedic degrees, so that every single person in the movie, at some point, performs an unthinkable act that saves the world no matter where they come from or who they are? Or a movie that ramps up the illogical patriotism of the first movie to a degree that only America can fight back against an alien invasion, and that the aliens are only susceptible to weapons and ideas created in the U.S. for no other reason that “they just are.” That’s what I want from something as large scale and out-of-this-world as Independence Day; something that recognizes that science fiction is meant to be fantastic, and applies that to all areas, including its tone.
It’s unlikely I’ll get that, of course; more likely, any new Independence Day will be more serious, more determined to fit in with today’s blockbusters than create the kind of outre quasi-comedy disaster movie with aliens genre it did the first time around. But as long as the abreviated title for this one ends up being ID5 – the original being the somewhat confusing ID4 with the number relating to July 4th, remember – then I’ll feel slightly satisfied.
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