There’ve been rumors of a sequel to Independence Day for nigh on a decade now. The 1996 blockbuster was one of the highest-grossing films of all time upon its initial release, it singlehandedly transformed Will Smith from being the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to being one of the world’s most important movie stars, and it kicked off a renewed interest in “aliens come to Earth to mess with us” as a big-budget genre that had been buried under years of touchy-feely alien pictures in the wake of E.T. Though the movie is, er, pretty dumb, there’s no question that Independence Day matters–or that it has a passionate fanbase.
So when the writing/directing/producing team of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich announced plans for a sequel back in 2009, we were excited; but after years of talk and no action–and a whole lot of waffling on the question of whether Smith would be involved–it started to feel like an apocryphal story. Even after production started and casting was announced (no Smith, but Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman were back, joined by the lesser Hemsworth), our attention span for the film that was seriously given the working title of ID4-Ever was limited–there were Star Wars and Marvel movies to anticipate, and Devlin and Emmerich were looking a lot like a couple of boys who’d cried wolf one too many times.
But lo, on Sunday afternoon (during NFL games, with no prior warning) the first trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence was released, and it was big and full of explosions and a lot of Goldblum. The concept for the film is fairly compelling–because Resurgence is the sequel to a 20-year-old blockbuster, the movie focuses on the question of “how would life on Earth have changed if people spent two decades aware that aliens existed and kicking it with alien technology they scavenged from crashed flying saucers?” Where the first Independence Day looked at what would happen to our world (as it existed back in the ’90s, anyway) if mean aliens tried to kill us, Independence Day: Resurgence looks at what a world that fought off an alien invasion a generation ago would do if they had to do it again.
All of that means that, whether it’s good or bad–and it’s probably most likely that, like the first movie, it’ll be both of those things to the extreme–Resurgence will be the kind of sequel that doesn’t just recycle the plot and beats of the original, and that alone is as much as we could have hoped for from a movie called Independence Day 2. While it may be Smith-less (for those who are interested in how that works, this is a story all about how Devlin and Emmerich wrote two versions of the script–one with and one without Captain Steven Hiller), the movie promises the same explodey alien invasion excitement in a very different setup, and that should delight anybody who hasn’t spent the past two decades dreading the idea of this film. For those of us who still get chills whenever we hear Bill Pullman inspire us with a call to fight off not tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but annihilation–on June 24, 2016, we celebrate our independence day. Probably because the 4th of July is a Monday next year, but still–we’ll take it.