Breaking down the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer

If you recall my post from earlier this year, I am a big fan of the 1996 film Independence Day, or ID4 as it was stylized for its release. So, you can imagine my excitement now that the trailer for the new film is out. The sequel, titled Independence Day: Resurgence, or IDR, is set 20 years after the initial film—allowing for the aging of the original cast members—and focuses on the return of the alien threat.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Haven’t seen the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer yet? Let’s fix that:

No joke: I got a touch of goosebumps watching that the first time. I blame it on Whitmore’s speech . Really a nice touch to include the most iconic bit of the first film in this trailer.

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s go through it and see what we can deduce.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) UN Vehicles

The Independence Day: Resurgence trailer begins with a line of armored vehicles driving through a desert valley. I would assume this is the same desert surrounding Area 51 from the first film, though we can’t be sure. What I find interesting about this shot is when the trailer cuts to a close-up, the vehicles and a soldier’s helmet are clearly marked UN, presumably for the United Nations. This continues the theme of the first film, that of an Earth united against the alien threat. Recall Whitmore’s words from the first film. This establishing shot reminds the audience this is not an American story: it is a story about the whole world and the “new meaning” of the word “mankind.”

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Alien Skulls

The next shot is of a group exploring the desert at night. Lights play over a strange site: alien skulls mounted on spikes, decorated with antlers and paint. Jeff Goldblum, once more playing David Levinson from the first film, steps forward, whispering “Oh my God.” The camera cuts behind them: now they stand on a ridge, overlooking the site of some large alien structure surrounded by a veritable city of smaller structures. Does the mounting of the skulls and this village, sprung up around what appears to be one of the crashed alien spacecraft, indicate a human cult worshipping the aliens? Are they fixing the spacecraft?

I would find it hard to believe these smaller structures are built by the aliens, even though the text shown next in the trailer—”We always knew they would come back”—would imply the previous shot was of aliens: the aliens of Independence Day seem too technologically advanced to need to lay down a ground base. Additionally, with the large alien structures, it would be too visible to the planet’s human occupants, making it a prime target for attack. However, the official Independence Day Twitter feed seems to indicate this is a group of alien survivors, explaining the necessity for a ground base.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Fighters

Next, Levinson speaks over shots of pilots (at the forefront Liam Hemsworth) gearing up and flying out in jets which sport engines emanating a blue, alien light: “I spent twenty years trying to get us ready for this. We used their technology to strengthen our planet.” As amazing as Independence Day‘s dogfighting was between real jet fighters and the advanced alien fighters, the revelation that alien technology has been used to change and “strengthen” Earth’s defenses makes perfect sense. The first film hinted that alien technology had already been incorporated in technological breakthroughs prior to Independence Day‘s events; after the war, without the need for secrecy surrounding the aliens’ existence, it is no surprise alien technology would be utilized to the fullest extent.

“But,” Levinson reminds us, as innovative as mankind can be, as much as we can do to prepare, “it won’t be enough.” This statement places mankind once again as the underdogs in the face of a great, menacing enemy, keeping to the tone of the original film. In the universe of Independence Day, we cannot meet the alien threat as equals. That is not what these films are about: they are about overcoming great odds with human ingenuity and a united spirit.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Thomas Whitmore

Following Levinson, the trailer reveals Bill Pullman as an older, more grizzled former President Whitemore. He speaks in a tremulous, almost frightened tone: “I see them. In my dreams. They’re coming back.” Is he speaking of metaphorical dreams and fears? More likely, this line alludes to a psychic connection with the aliens, a remnant from his encounter with the alien at Area 51 lab. Whitmore’s once cleanshaven face is now overgrown with a grey beard, his once perfectly combed hair disheveled and erratic: this is a man changed by the events of Independence Day. The cane he uses seems symbolic of the damage done to him through the burden and responsibilities he has carried. Whitmore appears to be a reminder to the audience that though mankind won the battle in the first film, we did not escape unscathed.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Julius Levinson

The rest of the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer is a mish-mash of action sequences, character reveals, and shots of humans and human structures underneath the overwhelming shadow of the alien ships. There is a notable shot of Judd Hirsch on a boat, looking up at the ship. His character is so cautious in the original film, I would have never imagined him on a boat, but perhaps he has been emboldened by the first struggle against the aliens. Independence Day did hint at the strength in his character when he brought survivors together in the prayer circle, as well as in Airforce One as he spoke up in defense of his son: “you’d all be dead now if it wasn’t for my David!” I am excited to see Hirsch take up his old role once again, as well as see Brent Spiner reprise Doctor Brackish Okun (though Okun was not featured in the trailer).

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Lanford

The fantastic Sela Ward appears in a shot where some threatening figures—aliens?—appear to be invading some sort of military headquarters. She steps forward to face the threat, only to be quickly surrounded by men who open fire on the intruders. Her bearing is confident and authoritative, with a little American flag on her lapel as is currently customary for American Presidents and presidential candidates. (You will notice Whitmore wearing a lapel pin as well, though he did not wear one in the first film.) A quick glance at the cast list confirms Ward is portraying Lanford, the President of the United States. Very nice.

For me, notable missing faces from the trailer and the cast list include Will Smith and Adam Baldwin. Reports say Smith did not join the film because “he’s too expensive” and the film could not budget in his salary demands. But why not Baldwin? I would have liked to see him return in the role of a general (though I’m not complaining too much since such a role has instead gone to Armageddon‘s William Fichtner).

Independence Day: Resurgence is currently scheduled for a June 24th release next year, and you can bet dollars to doughnuts I will be seeing it on release day and probably again on Independence Day. (Only, of course, after rewatching my copy of Independence Day once, or twice, or maybe more times than I’d readily admit.)

If the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer is not enough and has only whetted your appetite for more, you might want to dive into War of 1996, a viral marketing website dedicated to the events and aftermath of the first film, leading up to Independence Day: Resurgence. Personally, I am going to wait until the film’s release to learn more: I want to be surprised, and I have faith in the filmmakers to include any essential information in the film itself. (Though I am looking forward to the comic book bridge between the two films: issue #1 is scheduled for release in March and the covert art looks amazing.)

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