Movies I Don’t Want to See: Independence Day: Resurgence
And the Ray Harryhausen estate STILL won’t see dime one.
By Jim Knipfel
Apart from a couple scenes I caught during a TB broadcast, I never bothered to watch Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s 1996 super-mega alien invasion whatsit Independence Day, and I skipped it as often as I did for two reasons. First, though I love carnage and widespread global devastation as much as the next guy, Tim Burton’s sadly doomed Mars Attacks! (which came out around the same time, hence the doom) was simply smarter, sharper and funnier. And second, given that Independence Day was just a big budget all-star reboot of the 1956 Ray Harryhausen sci-fi classic Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, well, I figured I’d seen it already. Plus, unlike Emmerich and Devlin, at least Burton had the class to freely and publicly admit his debt to Harryhausen.
That the snot-nosed duo was shamelessly ripping off the legendary stop-motion animator (but without a shred of his imagination, style or humor) was merely confirmed two years later when they released a remake of his Beast From 20,000 Fathoms but under a different and misleading name.
Well, despite all the bazillions of dollars Independence Day hauled in from ignorant rubes (they sure do love seeing shit get blowed up real good, those rubes), it took twenty years to get around to making a sequel. Coming up with a fresh script that does something new and interesting to follow up such a massively successful film has got to be a tricky bit of business, right? It’d have to take some real imagination. And wouldn’t you know it? Twenty years down the line it seems those pesky, trigger-happy aliens are coming back to blow the shit out of more beloved landmarks! This time around, though (according to the trailer), their spaceships are, um, bigger. I guess that’s something fresh and different, right?
So, yeah, it seems it’s gonna be the same damn thing all over again, which is what the American movie-going public seems to demand from their sequels. But here’s a weird thing. Judging from the trailer and the credits, it looks like the only big name from the original they were able to con into coming back for the sequel was Bill Pullman (if you’re pathetic enough to consider Bill Pullman a “big name”). And it seems he’s, yes, still the President.
Wait wait wait wait wait. Twenty years later, and he’s still President? That’s five terms! Six, even, if you count the first film! So it has me thinking the interim went like this, though not having seen the film it’s all speculation on my part:
After that first raucous and bombastic alien invasion was thwarted by good ol’ American gumption and elbow grease, the President, riding high in the polls after that rousing speech of his, seized his chance. Citing “security” and “keeping our children safe from alien invaders” as his top priority, he simply did away with the Constitution and declared himself Supreme Leader for Life. I mean. who else is gonna protect the American public from marauding jellyfish from outer space, Hillary Clinton? And of course the masses swallowed it whole and handed it over to him, since that’s what the masses do whenever they get spooked by communists or terrorists or aliens. What else could explain his still being in office?
That being the case, it also leaves me guessing this new, um, resurgence of high-octane extraterrestrial activity is in reality a false flag operation, an inside job engineered to solidify his grip on power by keeping the puvlic fear level at a brain-melting pitch.
But y’know, no. That would make it an almost interesting and subversive film I might actually be inclined to see. Emmerich and Devlin have never been that clever, and have never wandered far from the standard format of the ‘70s disaster film. So yeah, I’m guessing this time around it’ll just be the same damn aliens again doing the same damn thing a second time (or third, if you count Harryhausen’s original). I bet they even blow up the White House again.
Considering what sort of power-mad asshole that fucking President has apparently become, this time I’d likely root for the aliens. If I were to bother seeing it, that is.
Published December 22nd, 2015
Jim Knipfel is the author of Slackjaw, The Blow-Off, These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and several other books.