2016’s Independence Day: Resurgence was many things. In addition to superlatives like “20 years too late” and “wholly unnecessary,” the film’s critics also heaped phrases like “boring” and “lame” on the big-budget sequel. Resurgence, the long-awaited follow-up to 1996’s mega hit Independence Day that it turns out nobody was actually awaiting, fell behind the original in another key factor – the presence of Will Smith. Independence Day was the movie that turned Smith into an international box office star, and his omission in the film is explained by a still photograph of a jet explosion. That’s right – Smith’s character is killed offscreen before the movie even begins, in a botched test flight of an alien craft. It’s the most potent example of everything that doesn’t work about the film.
Independence Day director Roland Emmerich seems to be in total agreement. In a recent interview with Yahoo promoting his new film Midway, Emmerich got surprisingly candid about the much-maligned sequel, ultimately agreeing that he probably shouldn’t have even made it.
“I just wanted to make a movie exactly like the first, but then in the middle of production Will opted out because he wanted to do Suicide Squad,” the director said. “I should have stopped making the movie because we had a much better script, then I had to really fast, cobble another script together.”
You can absolutely tell the script fell victim to last-minute rewrites. Despite some interesting ideas, like surviving aliens engaging in a protracted ground war in Africa, the movie jumps wildly around from storyline to storyline, ultimately introducing a second race of aliens in a twist that is as unexpected as it is totally bonkers.
“I should have just said no because all of a sudden I was making something I criticized myself: a sequel,” Emmerich said.
The director’s comments make a lot of sense, especially when considering that Independence Day: Resurgence was originally planned as a pair of sequels to be filmed back-to-back. Those overly ambitious plans were changed to just one sequel to gauge the moviegoing public’s interest in more Independence Day movies, a move that seems like profound wisdom in today’s climate of multiple sequels being greenlit for films that have yet to even release. (Fantastic Beasts, anyone?)
Emmerich’s latest film Midway opens November 8th.