Consider this a companion piece to our recent Independence Day episode.
Okay folks, Independence Day: Resurgence wasn’t good, I know this. Somewhat unfortunately, it wasn’t even bad; it just was. I’m not the type to appreciate movies that are “so bad they’re good”, it’s just not my style. I appreciate cheesy cinema more than almost anyone (think Bloodsport), but I generally don’t get down with watching something just to laugh at how bad it is (think No Retreat, No Surrender); I usually need to truly enjoy something to watch it enough times to find comedy in it. Sure, I will do it once in a while for the sake of the show, and sometimes it happens by accident (listen to our Captain Ron episode if you want to experience this), but I rarely sit down and watch something notoriously bad just to get some giggles out of it afterwards. There’s just too much notoriously good stuff out there that I haven’t found the time to watch. With that said, I fully understand how people love to get together and watch crappy flicks and joke about them after; it makes for some great podcasting too. It’s become its own form of entertainment, with theatres regularly playing flicks like The Room and Manos: Hands of Fate to packed audiences full of schlock lovers. However, my longwinded explanation leads us back to my original point: The Independence Day sequel isn’t the kind of movie that will ever get this treatment, nor will idiots like me do podcast episodes about it like we recently did for the original. It merely exists, and that stinks, because the first one was such a blockbuster, and has become a basic cable staple to the point that the next couple of generations will most likely have fond memories of it. It deserved better, and right now, in a hastily thrown together paragraph or two of explanation, I’m going to give you better. I’m going to prove, without even trying that hard, that ID4 could’ve had a much better sequel. A sequel that is true to the characters. That doesn’t base any major script decisions on Will Smith being busy making another movie and instead waits until he’s available because it’s already been twenty years since the first one and one more won’t hurt…or at least one with a name that doesn’t make it sound like one of my country’s proudest holidays is having a herpes flare-up.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Independence Day:ID4:20, a movie in which Will Smith, Cheech Marin, Method Man, Harold, Kumar, and Trey Anastasio of Phish team-up to battle The Predator and the aliens from Mars Attacks using only the power of weed smoke and bong water! I’m just kidding, but at least mine had a catchy title. Anyhow, let’s try to make something that sucks at least a little less than the real movie. Let me present to y’all a little synopsis for the very simply titled Independence Day 2.
ID2, as I will call it, begins in much the same way that the real sequel does. Humanity has spent the last twenty some odd years benefitting from the technology left behind by the Alien invaders. We now have moon bases, interplanetary travel, hover…stuff, the works. Much like after real life disasters, the world enjoyed a period of peace directly after the initial battle, but now finds itself dealing with typical global-political issues and mounting tensions. Still, a U.N. space coalition exists and is making moves towards Mars exploration and all sorts of neat space things. Integral to this “space force” (yes, I watch the news, I get it) are Dr. David Levinson and Steven Hiller, WHO IS STILL ALIVE DAMMIT! At the film’s beginning, the two of them and a cadre of tropes and stereotypes have been dispatched to Mars to research some kind of macguffiny signal. At the same time, former President Thomas Whitmore, who secretly and not in a weird crazy-old-man way suffers from headaches and visions because of his alien interactions in the first film, is on a good-will tour of some other country. Joining him on this tour are his former aide-turned-some-other-type-of-aide Constance; who is still married to and in love with David, (because why the hell would we ever need a new and extremely forced love story in a sequel!? It’s a dumb trope) and former Air Force pilot and current Secret Service Agent Dylan Hiller. Seeing as how it’s Fourth of July weekend, which is now a worldwide holiday, Constance and Dylan, per the former President’s approval, have invited family members Jasmine and Julius (his mom and her father in-law, played by Vivica Fox and Judd Hirsch) along for the ride. Both lonely because their favorite people are on mission to mars. Not joining them is Patricia Whitmore (played by Mae effin’ Whitman!), who also served in the Air Force before taking on a career as a journalist. She’s currently attached to a group of African warlords who are trying to rebuild their community after spending years in a ground war with the alien invaders following the events of the first movie (one of the few good ideas from the actual sequel). She’s currently in a tiff with her father over their continued disagreements about how he handled things as a leader post-ID4. Phew, got to take a breath after making all this magic.
For those of you wondering, I’m going to leave out Russell Case’s family because who cares? I’m also going to leave out Adam Baldwin’s character, even though he’d probably now be a high ranking general in this universe, because he sucks as a person sometimes and Hollywood is never going to cast him in anything this big again. Otherwise, all our main players are set-up for greatness. Is it too neat though? No, it’s not. In a movie like this, we all know that you’re going to bring everyone back together in the end. Often, as we saw in the real-life sequel, these reunions are forced and rely on coincidences so strong that they stretch the bounds of believability further than an alien ship ever could. Instead, I propose that the film take advantage of the fact that these characters established strong bonds in the first movie and have them all together in groups facing the situation from the beginning. Remember, we usually go back for the sequel when we like the characters and want to see their journeys continued, so why make that journey so illogical? In a movie about aliens, the only thing that can truly make any sense is how the characters behave, so why not keep it consistent? So now that our characters are all set up, the rest of the movie is pretty simple.
On July 4th, as our heroes go about their business as dignitaries, explores etc., the familiar space crafts we’ve all come to know and fear drop into earth’s orbit. Earth scrambles to get birds in the air to intercept the threat, but before they can even get out of the atmosphere, a fast attack ship slams into the zone in Africa where all the ground-fighting took place, sets off an EMP-esque device, and knocks out most of the world’s electricity, communications, and defenses (whatever is convenient to the plot). Earth’s ships literally fall from the sky, providing an iconic trailer image. The weapon is so targeted and so powerful that it even disables a significant amount of the Mars Team’s equipment, stranding them on the red planet…after a super sweet aerial battle with a small contingent of the alien force.
Back on Earth, Team Whitmore somehow (it’s a movie, someone else can fill in the blanks) receives word from Patricia (maybe she’s on the phone with her old friend Dylan when the EMP goes off) that she’s bogged down at ground zero of the new invasion and begins to make their way to her. This trip runs concurrently with the boys being lost on Mars, and with Patricia herself throwing down with the warlords against the alien stronghold that’s been established in Africa. Through some magic of McGuffiness, the folks on earth figure out that the EMP is a signal being broadcast from the invader’s African base to shut down Earth’s forces whilst the aliens move into position to completely eliminate earth’s population and strip us of our resources. Team Whitmore arrives in Africa (maybe they travel on some outdated analogue plane, piloted by some ridiculous character that I’m sure the studio would want to throw in to argue with Julius), gets saved by Patricia (Mae Whitman for the win!), and coordinates a ground assault to take out the signal generator (Jedi anyone?) and hack the alien’s defense systems with an air assault to take out the invading sky fleet. This all begins to come to a head while we find out that Team Mars Space Force Alpha aren’t alone on the red planet. Team Mars Space Force Alpha Five Niner 6000 come across the hidden ruins of some sort of ancient civilization and are immediately ambushed by a small force of invaders; they take refuge in the ruins, are low on ammo (ammo is “the green sh—” from the original) and we leave them for a moment. Pause to breath in this movie’s awesomeness…Ah, that’s better, now here we go with the climax.
In the flick’s final act, half of our heroes on earth launch an assault on the signal generator alongside the warlord group…hey, at least there’s no ewoks. In my defense, I didn’t think of Jedi when I first came up with this idea, it’s just a really solid way to have two battles go on at once, fight me. Anyhow, the other half of Team Earth (the half with pilot’s licenses) have somehow come across hybrid technology jets (I’m going to say it’s something to effect of “some rich warlord owned them”) and ready themselves to attack the invaders as soon as the power comes back on. We intercut all of this with Team Mars Space Force Mega-Ninja Zords fight to survive the ambushing forces at the ruins. At some point, Team Earth’s ground troops knock out the generator, allowing the flight team to get in the air, but not actually mount any offense. They have to evade attack for a while, but find themselves capable of fighting back when whichever plucky hacker character takes out the shields; this happens at the same time that the ruins on Mars open up and an unseen Martian presence takes out the forces attacking Team Mars Volta Space Fox Force Five. The battle on Earth is now raging in the skies, raging in space, and raging on the ground, as our Air Force attacks theirs, and the ground team defends their position at the signal tower thingy from some sort of drone army. The tide begins to turn against our warriors in the sky, as most of the main fleet runs out of ammo (call backkkkkk) and our main heroes (Hiller and The Whitmore Family Band) are the only hope. Before they can mount any major offense, they are confronted with some sort of super enemy and the Ex-President (Bill Pullman, this is unfortunately not a Point Break crossover) sacrifices himself to save his daughter and pseudo-nephew guy. He dies in this one too, but it’s to successfully protect his daughter and it galvanizes earth’s previously retreating forces to start to make kamikaze runs at the alien forces. Hiller and Lady Whitmore have a quick epic convo and begin to fly directly at the enemy (a la Randy Quaid in the original), ready to perish, when Team Mars Dues Ex Space Force jumps into the atmosphere with a crew of friendly aliens, drops a bunch of one-liners (including “we’re here, and we got plenty of green sh–!” as they force-field re-arm the other ships…or something) and saves the day! All the bad guys blow up and/or stop working after others blow up. Bing Bang Boom, story over.
Phew, that was some rambling. Good luck reading it, because I don’t like to edit! Now on with the epilogue!
As the movie winds down, everyone is united on earth, hugs are had, and we find out…spoiler alert…that the Martians are the same aliens that attacked us, just a peaceful colony of them! They have wormhole technology, the ability to re-arm their ships in mid-air, and they want us to team up with them to take out the remaining evil forces once and for all! Boom! I even ended it with a similar yet slightly less idiotic cliffhanger/sequel lead-in! That’s your movie folks!
Look, I’m sure it’s not perfect; this I know, but I will be damned if anyone can tell me it isn’t at least slightly better than the movie they put in theatres. I know it’s ridiculous, and it has an all-too-convenient plot device in the climax, but every movie like this does, I just think that mine seems more plausible in this film’s universe. That’s what studios don’t realize, we don’t want realism from movies like this, we just want them to play by their own rules. Again, I know it’s not an award winner, but I’m not someone who gets paid to do these things! If my zero-talent ass can slap this together, why couldn’t real writers make something that doesn’t make me want to punch myself in the groin? Anyway, that’s my Independence Day sequel, which I’d actually love to just call Memorial Day, or ID2024 , but that’s for my imaginary marketing department to decide. Nighty night nerds!