- "We had twenty years to prepare. So did they."
- ―Independence Day: Resurgence tagline
Independence Day: Resurgence is a 2016 American science fiction action film directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, and James Vanderbilt. A sequel to the 1996 film Independence Day, it stars an ensemble cast featuring Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Travis Tope, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Judd Hirsch. The film takes place twenty years after the events of the first film, during which the United Nations has collaborated to form Earth Space Defense, an international military defense and research organization. Through reverse engineering, the world has fused the power of alien technology with humanity's and laid the groundwork to resist a second invasion.
Twenty years after the war against alien invaders in 1996, the United Nations has founded the Earth Space Defense (ESD), a global defense and research program that reverse-engineers alien technology and serves as Earth's early warning system against extraterrestrial threats. Civilization has been restored and relative peace among nations exists following the humanity's victory over the aliens' attacks, and major cities around the world including Washington, D.C. were rebuilt and modernized with amalgamated technologies. After establishing Area 51 as its headquarters, the ESD set up bases on the Moon, Mars, and Rhea, and orbital defense satellites above Earth, as fortifications against future invasions.
ESD Director David Levinson meets with Dr. Catherine Marceaux and warlord Dikembe Umbutu in the isolationist African state the National Republic of Umbutu. Dikembe had summoned Levinson and Marceaux to investigate an intact alien city destroyer, which landed in 1996 and was drilling until it stopped following the aliens' defeat; the ship remained dormant and foreigners were forbidden to study the ship enforced by the country's government, until it is suddenly reactivated. They discovered that the aliens had long sent a distress signal to their home planet before their defeat. It is revealed that people such as former U.S. President Thomas Whitmore, Dr. Brackish Okun, and Umbutu are telepathically linked to the aliens' collective consciousness, following personal encounters with aliens, and have recurring visions of an unidentified spherical object.
An unidentified spherical ship emerges from a wormhole near Earth's Moon. Levinson is convinced that it belongs to a different extraterrestrial race that is benevolent and urges the world's government not to attack. However, the UN Security Council including President Elizabeth Lanford unanimously ordered the ESD to destroy the ship. Defying orders, American pilots Jake Morrison and Charles Miller collect Levinson, Marceaux, Umbutu, and U.S. federal controller Floyd Rosenberg on a space tug. They head for the wreckage of the ship in the Van de Graaff crater, where they recover a large container. During the middle of the 20th anniversary celebrations honoring the War of 1996, a massive alien mothership, responding to the distress call, and proceed to destroy much of Earth's defenses before making landfall on the planet. Levinson's group are caught in the mothership's gravitational pull, which also lifts buildings and structures from most of Asia. The debris falls over Europe where Morrison manages to pilot the tug to escape, as it passes over London, before heading on to Area 51.
The mothership lands over the North Atlantic Ocean, destroying several cities in the process, including Washington, D.C. Captain Dylan Dubrow-Hiller attempts to rescue his mother, Jasmine, but she dies when the mothership's landing strut makes impact with the hospital she works at. The mothership begins drilling downward to Earth's molten core for fuel that will destroy Earth's magnetic field in the process and eradicating all life on the surface.
Thomas Whitmore, Levinson, and U.S. General Joshua Adams' groups interrogate one of the aliens held in captivity at Area 51's prison facility from the war. They learn that the aliens exist in a hivemind and that one of their colossal Queens is commanding the invasion. Levinson hypothesizes that if they kill the supervising Queen, her forces will cease drilling and go dormant. ESD forces, led by Dylan, stage a counter-attack but are caught in a trap within the mothership that disables their weapons and wipes out most of the squadron. Dylan, along with Jake and fellow pilots Charlie Miller and Rain Lao, are the only few survivors.
In Area 51, Dr. Brackish Okun wakes up from his twenty-year coma. He proceeds to open the container from, which releases a giant white sphere of artificial intelligence. The sphere reveals that it was sent by a party of refugees to help evacuate humanity to a planet of refuge from the aliens, whom she calls "Harvesters", and unite them with other survivors to oppose the Harvesters. Seeing that its activity has alerted the alien queen to its presence, the sphere tries to convince the ESD to destroy it in order to prevent the aliens from getting the coordinates to the refuge planet. Meanwhile, the ESD survivors in the mothership manage to escape by hijacking alien fighters. Dylan, Jake, Charlie, and Rain navigate two Harvester fighters to pursue the Queen's personal ship, which is heading to Area 51 to extract information from the sphere.
Knowing that the Harvester Queen has become aware of the sphere's location, the ESD conduct another attempt on eliminating the Queen; they hid the sphere in an isolation chamber and use a decoy in a space tug to lure the Queen's ship into a trap; in a secluded area outside Area 51 laid with cold fusion bombs. Against his daughter Patricia's wishes, Whitmore volunteers to pilot the space tug on a suicide mission. During the subsequent battle, Whitmore leads the Queen's ship to the trap and detonates the bombs, sacrificing himself and destroying the ship with the Queen still inside.
However, the Queen survives by using an energy shield on her exoskeleton and a battle ensues. Initially, the ESD soldiers' weapons cannot penetrate the Queen's shield, but after the Harvester Queen lowers her shield to fire her own weapon, a critical hit by Whitmore's daughter Patricia deactivates her shield. This allows Dylan's party, which arrives just in time, to kill her before she can take the sphere.
With the Queen dead, all the remaining alien fighters are rendered inactive, while the mothership stops drilling and retreats to space. Okun reveals to the ESD that the sphere has asked humanity to lead her resistance and has offered them new technology in preparation for a potential assault on the Harvesters' homeworld.
- Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison
- Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson
- Bill Pullman as former U.S. President Thomas J. Whitmore
- Maika Monroe as Patricia Whitmore
- Jessie Usher as Dylan Hiller
- Sela Ward as U.S. President Elizabeth Lanford
- Travis Tope as Charles Miller
- William Fichtner as General Joshua T. Adams
- Charlotte Gainsbourg as Dr. Catherine Marceaux
- Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson
- Brent Spiner as Brackish Okun
- Vivica A. Fox as Jasmine Dubrow-Hiller
- Angelababy as Rain Lao
- Robert Loggia as General William Grey
- John Storey as Milton Isaacs
- Chin Han as Chinese Space Squadron Commander Jiang Lao
- Nicolas Wright as Floyd Rosenberg
- DeObia Oparei as Dikembe Umbutu
- Joey King as Samantha Blackwell
- Gbenga Akinnagbe as Agent Matthew Travis
- Patrick St. Esprit as Secretary of Defense Tanner
The possibility of a sequel to Independence Day had been discussed as early as 2001, and the film's producer and writer, Dean Devlin, once stated that the world's reaction to the September 11 attacks influenced him to strongly consider making a sequel to the film. Devlin began writing an outline for a script with Emmerich, but ultimately abandoned it. In October 2009, Emmerich said he once again had plans for a sequel, and had since considered the idea of making two sequels to form a trilogy.
On June 24, 2011, Devlin confirmed that he and Emmerich had found an idea for the sequels and had written a treatment for it. In October 2011, however, discussions for Will Smith returning were halted, due to Fox's refusal to provide the $50 million salary demanded by Smith for the two sequels. Emmerich, however, made assurances that the films would be shot back-to-back, regardless of Smith's involvement.
The following month, Devlin and Emmerich brought in James Vanderbilt to revise their previous draft. By February 2014, Vanderbilt had written two variations of the script: one featuring Smith's character in the lead and one with Smith cut out completely. On May 29, 2014, it was announced that the script for the first sequel written by Emmerich and Devlin would be rewritten by Carter Blanchard. The script was delivered to Fox along with twenty previsualization shots produced under effects supervisor Volker Engel, a long-time collaborator of Emmerich. Writing duo James A. Woods and Nicolas Wright wrote the final draft of the script that resulted in the film getting officially greenlit. The full title, Independence Day: Resurgence, was revealed on June 22, 2015. Returns, Retaliation, Rises, and Requiem were all considered too along with the title before settling with Resurgence.
Early on, both Emmerich and Devlin hoped that Will Smith would reprise his role as Steve Hiller. However, Smith declined the role due to scheduling conflicts with Suicide Squad, also in production at the time. Due to Smith's absence, his character was killed off as depicted in the prequel Independence Day: Crucible. Only Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner would return in the sequel.
On January 27, 2015, casting began with Fox offering the lead role to Liam Hemsworth. Maika Monroe played as the aged up daughter of Thomas Whitmore after Mae Whitman, who played the character in the original movie, declined to read for the part, according to Emmerich, though other sources indicate there might have been other reasons involved.
Filming began on April 20, 2015, and wrapped on August 22, 2015. Filming for additional scenes also took place in early 2016 in Los Angeles. Some scenes were also filmed in West Wendover, Nevada, London, at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and Singapore's Marina Bay Sands. Due to the availability of regional filming, the producers decided to shoot the film largely in New Mexico. Moreover, the state offers a 25% movie tax credit. However, while location filming did take place in rural New Mexico and further north on the Utah and Nevada border, most of the shooting was studio-based.
Emmerich decided to return to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, which he said he fell in love with while looking for a unique location for shooting the first film. However, problems cropped up as Emmerich was slightly disappointed by the nature and color of the area. This was because, before the arrival of the crew, a windstorm had occurred around the area, which blew a lot of dirt into the salt and subsequently turned it into a shade of beige.
The filmmakers refrained from shooting in India or portraying any prominent Indian monuments as being damaged to avoid potential protests and legal action from Indian religious groups and activists. Originally, parts of Dubai was planned to fall on Paris in the scene depicting the mothership destroying Europe while using Asian monuments pulled out by its gravitational pull. However, following the November 2015 Paris attacks, filmmakers reconsidered and instead had landmarks of Dubai fall on London.
Visual effects and design
Like the original Independence Day, Resurgence had its visual effects led by supervisor Volker Engel and producer Marc Weigert from Uncharted Territory, LLC. The Ncam camera tracking system was used on set to provide animation previews to the cast and crew and gather data for the effects companies. While the original film relied heavily on miniatures and Engel wanted them on at least one scene, the effects were mostly computer-generated.
Uncharted Territory, along with coordinating the overall efforts of 15 effects houses, was the leading company with 268 shots, created in a tight collaboration with the film's art department. Scanline VFX was the first vendor hired, and handled the mothership landing, which included creating detailed models of London and Singapore out of thousands of reference photographs and even Lidar scans to realistically destroy both cities. Weta Digital was mainly responsible for the design of the aliens and carrying out the climactic battle scene.
Release and Reception
Independence Day: Resurgence was released in the United States on June 24, 2016. The film was unable to duplicate the success of its predecessor, which grossed $817.4 million worldwide in 1996, and grossed $103.1 million in the United States and Canada and $286.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $389.7 million (53% less than the first film), against a production budget of $165 million.
The film also failed to garner much support from China – the world's second biggest movie market – as the cinemagoers there complained about how little screen time there was for Chinese actress Angelababy. Moreover, the film was released in a crowded summer amidst "sequelitis," in which numerous major sequels underperformed.
Since its initial release, Independence Day: Resurgence received mixed reviews from critics. Unfavorable reviewers cited the lack of "emotional heft to support its end-of-the-world narrative stakes" from its predecessor.
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film one and a half out of four stars, writing, "The Resurgence blueprint calls for a scene in which characters have human, allegedly humorous and/or touching moments; a scene in which characters plot strategy against the aliens; and a big action sequence in which it's often difficult to tell the difference between the good-guy spaceships and the bad-guy spaceships. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat." Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club criticized the film as an example of Hollywood's current business model of "preemptive franchising," stating that "The movie's dips into all-out space opera (interstellar travel, more alien species, etc.) are only meant to get the audience pumped for a movie that doesn't yet exist, making the undistinguished climax seem like a skirmish."
Not all reviews were negative, however. Dan Jolin of Empire gave the film a positive review, saying it was "spectacular as you'd hope from a sequel to the 1996 planet-toaster, and as amusingly cheesy. You'll enjoy yourself enough that you won't even miss Will Smith." Lucy O'Brien of IGN gave the film an 8/10, saying, "a silly, cheesy, spectacle-driven blockbuster with heart, Independence Day: Resurgence is a refreshing antidote to the grim and the serious sentiment we've seen trending in sci-fi flicks of recent years. While its plot is messy and it's stuffed with too many characters, I dare you not to leave the theatre with a guilt-free smile on your face." Ealasaid A. Haas of The Mercury News gave the film a mediocre review, saying that "It was okay."
Independence Day: Resurgence won the Jupiter Awards in the category of Best International Film.
In the 37th ceremony of the Golden Raspberry Awards, the film was nominated for Worst Picture, Worst Director (Roland Emmerich), Worst Screenplay (Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich and James Vanderbilt), Worst Supporting Actress (Sela Ward), and Worst Prequel, Remake, Ripoff or Sequel.
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