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This weekend, fans were treated to TV spots for some of this year’s most anticipated films during the Super Bowl. Marvel unleashed an action packed insight into the combating sides in Captain America: Civil War, 20th Century Fox followed suit with major trailers for both Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse, and Universal gave us our first look at Jason Bourne. However, one trailer stood out more than any other to me, and that was the spot for Roland Emmerich‘s Independence Day: Resurgence.
Roland Emmerich has always been a hit and miss director for me. The man has a gift when it comes to crafting spectacular action set-pieces, however he’s always struggled to present fleshed out characters, logical narratives or any semblance of rational thinking in any of his movies. A typical Emmerich film tends to run like a long TV movie, where everything society held dear falls apart yet at the end of the story we’re promised a new day where everything will go back to normal. It is the single most frustrating thing about his movies, to the point where he managed to make a movie about the literal end of the world have a happy ending.
Despite my love/hate relationship with the German director, I always watch his action movies. I loved The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and White House Down, as I see them as simple minded entertainment. I am fully aware that they will never hold up to any form of critical analysis, and the same can be said for his attempts at historic films as well with 10.000BC and The Patriot. They work as popcorn flicks, but not much else.
There is one exception to this rule, and that is 1996’s action masterpiece Independence Day. It is a film that perfectly mixed practical effects with CGI mastery for some of the most iconic action set-pieces of the 90’s. On top of that, it gave us an engaging narrative and populated the film with interesting characters. While their motives were simplistic, and their personalities were mainly cut-outs of old stereotypes, it worked within this 2 hour adrenaline filled epic. My love for this film is absolute, and while I acknowledge that it has flaws, I simply do not care.
Due to my strained relationship with Emmerich since the release of Independence Day, I had zero interest in seeing him return to the franchise that made him a household name in the 90’s. As I saw it, the movie did not need a sequel since it managed a near impossible feat of making the worn out cliches used in the original feel fresh and engaging. It is an accomplishment Emmerich has been unable to replicate since, despite giving all of his films the same basic structure.
When the first trailer for the upcoming Independence Day: Resurgence dropped a while back I was positively surprised. It had tackled the subject with a level of self-awareness for its own legacy and Emmerich’s well known love for CGI action that gave it a sort of humorous feel. As much as the trailer shows you rampant destruction, and well known landmarks getting blown to bits, it all feels like Emmerich and his writing team has embraced the ridiculousness of the situation. It felt like the film was saying, “We know what we’re good at, so here’s Bill Pullman’s awesome speech from first one over some new destruction.”
The film had managed to go from a movie I was planning to see on a late night television binge, half-drunk with Cheetos breath to a film I was actually interested in seeing on the big screen. With this weekend’s Super Bowl spot, it jumped further up the list to become one of my most anticipated movies of the year. The spot, showing rampant destruction across the world, Jeff Goldblum with his well-known out of breath desperation, and franchise new-comers turning dramatically towards the camera, managed to engage me more than all the other TV spots from this year’s Super Bowl. Once again, I felt a remarkable sense of self-awareness within the trailer. It’s not shying away from it’s own insanity, showing a building plunging towards Earth after the aliens sucked it into the sky. As if the image wasn’t enough by itself, the spot compliments the destruction of Earth with a beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled banner playing in the background.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully expect to yell, moan and cringe about the illogical choices Emmerich has surely made while making this action sequel. I don’t expect to see it anywhere near my top 10 at the end of the year, and I certainly don’t expect anything more than a action fuelled CGI destruction fest akin to 2012. However, despite all that, this movie has managed to elevate itself from a footnote to one of the year’s most anticipated films in what is set to be an amazing year in cinema. We have been treated to spots from some massive big budget blockbusters, and we’ve some of the biggest stars in the world fighting for our attention. Yet, without ever expecting to say this, I simply cannot hide my excitement for a sequel that’s been 20 years in the making.