Despite Roland Emmerich – the director of tentpole blockbusters such as The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla and 2012 – enjoying enduring box office success, he’s never made the studio cash-cow – the sequel. This year that changes with Independence Day 2 aka Resurgence…
Hardly a darling with the critics, Independence Day: Resurgence director Roland Emmerich knows how to create a big summer blockbuster. Ever since making a splash with mainstream audiences in the early 1990s with Universal Soldier and Stargate, Emmerich has been a go-to director for studios seeking a profitable summer tentpole.
Indeed, big budget films such as Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012, The Patriot and The Day After Tomorrow have all been huge box office smash hits despite largely falling foul to critics who dismiss Emmerich’s niche as low grade style over substance.
But despite the director being recognised for exploiting high concept themes in the name of entertainment and the bottom line, he’s never tackled a sequel. That is until now with Independence Day 2, otherwise known as Resurgence.
Set twenty years after the original, the Earth is still coming to terms with the destruction left behind following the attempted annihilation of the human race by the alien creatures of the first film. Attempting to protect against a further invasion, the Earth has banded together to develop a defence programme which utilises technology salvaged from the aliens alongside defensive military lines assembled in space. But unbeknownst to our protagonists, the aliens were able to send a distress signal back home and now another, more powerful, fleet is coming.
“This world is very special to me, and I wanted to do right by it and the characters,” said Emmerich of the sequel which reunites Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman from the first film with Vivica A. Fox and Judd Hirsch also reprising their roles.
He feels that enough time has passed since Independence Day in order for Resurgence to feel “fresh” while new technology in digital imagery will allow him to enhance the story even further through the latest visual effects. Indeed, as production designer Barry Chusid notes: “Roland thinks big. When you dream up something big, he would think of something even bigger. He’s always pushing boundaries of scale and scope.”
Star Jeff Golblum, who returns as whizz-kid computer expert David Levinson, concurs, saying that the new film is “so much bigger than ID4”. He adds that the original film’s spirit and sense of fun is still evident.
Emmerich says, “Audiences really like these characters. We’ve expanded the universe of Independence Day, and I can’t wait for people to experience it.”
Two reasons why Roland Emmerich makes a good sequel director. Firstly, he knows how to take an idea and make it bigger. Sequels are often distinguished by how they take the concepts of their forebears and add scale and scope. Emmerich is fine-tuned to bring this to Independence Day Resurgence.
Secondly, sequels work on familiarity. Emmerich has made a career out of channelling structural tropes – heroes rising from adversity, grand battles between good and evil, buddy companionship, romance – into recognisable high stakes drama (whether that’s the recreation of real events such as the American revolution in The Patriot or destroying iconic cities in Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow).
His commercial success with these blockbuster movies showcases a filmmaker adept at combining spectacle with popular appeal; a package that demands attention. Like he says, now feels right to tackle a sequel and there’s no better film on his resume than Independence Day.
Independence Day Resurgence arrives in UK cinemas June 24.