Does Independance Day Deserve a Sequel?

Posted by Tim Sheehy on Nov 1, 2011 in Cinema |

ID4 Independence Day Poster

It looks as though Fox may finally be ready to move on their plans to produce two back-to-back sequels for their 1996 sci-fi hit, Independence Day. It’s no secret that Sony’s been eyeing the project since earlier this year, but with the scripts finally penned, and Roland Emmerich’s schedule free and clear for the foreseeable future — his latest film, Anonymous hit theaters last weekend — its looking more and more likely. Will Smith hasn’t committed to reprising his role as Captain Steven Hiller, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility. Smith’s reportedly asking for $50 million, and budgetary concerns may prevent that. However, judging by the runaway success of the first film, Fox might justify cutting a big enough check. Either way, the show will go on, with or without him. Of course, that begs the question, do we even need Will Smith, or these sequels for that matter?

I can’t fondly look back at Independence Day. I suppose, as a film, I liked it well enough, but then there was the hype, the marketing, the proliferation. It was billed as science fiction, and I guess it sort of was, but watered down for the general populace. In a way, it was like the anti-Trek, and Smith was the weight keeping it anchored in reality with his family-friendly charisma and comedic charm. For me, it was fine to an extent, but little did I know, it was just the beginning.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones Men in Black

If you recall, 1996 was a big year for Smith. He had just finished The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and was finally making his full transition to the big screen. Independence Day was his first real box office hit but the following year he starred in Men in Black, once again playing up the anchor that kept the sci-fi grounded in reality. Starting to see a theme here? Men in Black actually made me embarrassed to be a fan of what I had then considered to be actual science fiction. Whenever I’d try to have a conversation with someone about the genre, it always led to Smith, or would be met with “Science fiction? Oh yeah, I really loved Men in Black.” It had become a phenomena, largely due in part to its pervasive marketing and the general appeal of Smith himself.

I suppose he can’t really be blamed for having starred in these films, and to some degree they were enjoyable to watch, but worthy of sequels? I think Men in Black 2 was proof enough that a sequel really didn’t need to happen there. The fact that they’ve recently filmed a third has me sick to my stomach. As for Independence Day, it stands fine by itself, so why would they want to jeopardize that, especially after fifteen years. Is it too much to ask for something fresh and different? Hell, I’d even sit through a sequel to Hancock if they could write a decent enough script this time around.

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