R.L. Akers is the author of the sci-fi novels Prometheus Rebound and Prometheus Revealed, which have been said to capture the same sense of excitement, adventure, and patriotism as Independence Day. Despite some of the opinions expressed in this article, the author finds himself pleased with this comparison.
GUEST OPINION PIECE BY R.L. AKERS
Twenty years ago, an armada of city-sized alien spaceships nearly eradicated the human race… and they would have succeeded, if not for a cocky Air Force pilot, a stuttering computer repair man, and a down-in-the-polls U.S. President. Oh, and let’s not forget the alcoholic crop duster pilot.
It’s hard to believe so much time has passed since the original Independence Day was released, almost as hard as it is to believe that the studios green-lit a sequel after so long. Our heroes saved the day and eradicated the aliens instead; what further threat could E.T. possibly pose? Well, there’s apparently a second armada bent on revenge, and it’s taken them this long to get here.
Actually, given the vast distances of interstellar space, that’s not so hard to believe.
I have to confess. I know next to nothing about this new movie. I’ve read no advance reviews, and I watched only a single trailer, just once. I know Bill Pullman will be sporting one wicked beard, Brent Spiner looks crazy as ever, but Will Smith is not reprising. Beyond that, I’m in the dark. I am remarkably unqualified to offer any opinion about Independence Day: Resurgence.
But man, does it have me excited.
Time for another confession. My family has a Fourth of July tradition that’s been running… well, twenty years now. We always, always watch Independence Day together, and we howl with laughter all the way through. It’s just so ridiculous. From its lack of scientific plausibility to its inauthentic human interactions, the movie requires suspension of disbelief from beginning to end. And yet we keep watching it (or at the very least putting it on in the background, quoting the lines with the actors as we fix our Fourth of July feast). Why is that? And why does the idea of a sequel get my heart pounding?
Because Independence Day is just plain fun. Somehow, the writers take that most horrific of premises—the annihilation of the human race—and make a grand adventure out of it. And when it comes to that final battle, in which even an alcoholic crop duster pilot is allowed to fly a $40MM jet, it’s not so hard to believe that even we could play a role in saving the world.
Plus, it’s so darn patriotic. (If you’d forgotten that, go spend an hour listening to David Arnold’s fabulous score.) Here in the real world, we find ourselves hip deep in yet another contentious election season. With political forces actively dividing our country into three camps (pro-Clinton, pro-Trump, and a bunch of other people clutching their stomachs), it’s easy to forget that we are one nation, indivisible. One would almost welcome an extraterrestrial attack, if it reminded us that we’re all playing for the same team.
Ridiculous or not, Independence Day: Resurgence promises to be a feel-good movie just like its predecessor, the continuing destruction of national landmarks notwithstanding. And so, as our country’s 240th birthday approaches, you will find me standing in line for tickets (maybe not opening night, but at least within that first week), President Whitmore’s famous words echoing in my thoughts:
We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!
Today we celebrate our Independence Day!