Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Do We Need More Independence?

It was 1996 when Independence Day (ID4) first wowed us with global carnage, alien invasion and lashings upon lashings of Will Smith but fourteen years on do we really need more independence? 

It was a sunny school night and an 11 year old Drew is at the cinema with his Dad on one of the rare occasions where work hasn't intervened and the popcorn is tasting pretty good. For a few hours I'm the happiest kid in the world -and it's not even my birthday!

I loved Independence Day for a multitude of reasons, I've always been a sci-fi geek and I've always been drawn to post-apocalyptic stories. Independence Day (or ID4 if you will) catered for both of those passions and was pretty damned good to boot. As a kid I was awed by the scale of the alien space craft, blown away right along with the unfortunate inhabitants of Earth's cities and charmed by a charismatic assembly of cast and one-liners. However, that was 1996 and a lot has happened since then.

Now don't get me wrong, I still think ID4 is a great movie but I'm not convinced that it can hold water as a trilogy. That's right, I said trilogy and it's not the first time rumors of a sequel have been abound. Apparently Dean Devlin, the films co-writer and co-writer of Stargate, has pondered the idea of an ID4 follow up for some time but has always determined that a sequel would not work. However moviefill reports that there are rumors of not only a sequel but a full blown trilogy...Something that your intrepid reporter has more then a few misgivings about.

Firstly, I think Devlin had it right when he said that there's no way to make a sequel work. Even now when I speak to people fourteen years after the original they point out that the humans killed off the entire alien race making a follow on film impossible. Now while that may sound a little unimaginative or pedantic, if people are able to remember a film for that amount of time and declare  sequel infeasible then there must be some weight to the argument. Also, let's not forget that the original was fairly epic in scope at the time and much of that holds true now. The films ending was shown as a "last ditch" attempt to save the human race from extinction in a battle that demanded nothing short of the complete destruction of the alien invaders. Otherwise the aliens could just come back with more ships with an anti-virus or a Linux OS to swat those pesky humies. A trilogy would make a mockery of the "do or die" nature of the franchise. Also, the idea is that humanity manages to win it's "Independence" on (wait for it) the fourth of July, or Independence Day (oh the irony). When you think about it a sequel really goes against the core values of the film!

But that's not the end of the problems here, aside from ID4-2/3 sounding like something used for cleaning bike chains, Devlin has indicated that he would not want to do another ID4 without a certain Will Smith on the team. There a few issues here that could impede a sequels progress, firstly Fox apparently are not keen on to ponying up the cash (apparently $20 million up front plus 20% of the gross) for Smith's involvement. However, just for kicks, let's say that Fox pay up and the project gets the green light with Smith ready and willing (Willing, Will Smith -get it?) to take part. The next question is HOW? The only way to make the film work would be an else-ware approach where we see the conflict from a different angle so no Will Smith. Unless Captain Steven Hiller has a long lost but equably  endearing twin out there who is also a pilot.

Somehow, I don't see a sequel being able to follow the world-changing events of the first film. Let's face it, humanity finds out it is not alone in the universe, nearly gets killed off and then manages not to. All over a few days that culminate on the 4th of July too -come on, irony people! Perhaps if we see a film set some time in the future where mankind has recovered alien tech and gone into space only only to begin forging a xenophobic empire based on the paranoia of being assailed in the first place then we could really play the irony card with a title like Independence Day. But unless it's now admiral Hiller there'll be no Will Smith so hows about we leave this particular chunk of my childhood well alone?




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