Yes, the first Independence Day (ID4) is essentially a cheesy popcorn film extolling the virtues of what defines the American holiday. When looking at it in a broader perspective, it’s a story about bringing hope for the planet Earth. When aliens are out to pillage it for the resources and to exterminate the human race, humanity must gather to fight it. Enter Will Smith. He made this first movie a fun watch.
In Independence Day: Resurgence (ID42), he’s nowhere to be found. The story takes place 20 years later, and the explanation comes by way of a slickly made website, Warof1996.com, giving all the back story that’s needed before audiences flock to theatres to see what’s to happen next. I wonder when this trailer hits theatres, if this site will be well advertised?
A big deal fans of ID4 will ask is where is Smith’s character? The website reports:
While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller. Hiller’s valor in the War of ‘96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and son Dylan.
Thankfully, stars Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and Brent Spiner are back. Dylan will appear as a young man (now played by Jessie Usher) but his role is still to be determined. The trailer suggests he’s military at least.
Producer / director Roland Emmerich says this movie is a “reboot” of the franchise. If this new film does well, my hope is for spin-off products to emerge to fill out the back story in new ways. I’d love to see IDW Publishing print comic books, a video game company like Electronic Arts to create new flight simulators to recreate some of the epic air battles (or for Star Wars: Battlefront fans, combat scenarios) and maybe Palladium Books produce RPG material so fans can partake in reclaiming the Earth or taking on the next invasion!
I have fond memories of getting together with my RPG pals and playing in that environment. The Game Master (GM) and I went to the movie for the fourth time to take intensive notes about the world that’s being unravelled. While my pal did most of the world-building, I pondered over what kind of characters can be played. It boiled down to four archetypes: military, scientist, politician or maverick that we felt was the most usable. Any other occupation meant training to be one of the four. My GM thought through what kind of campaigns can be held and they usually fell to meting out surviving aliens and dealing with how resources are now going to be traded when the infrastructure of satellite communications is wiped out. There’s also consideration over what the geopolitical situation is like now that most of the leaders of Earth are gone.
We used GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System) to handle the mechanics of skill resolution and combat. And just like the website outlined and the trailer suggested, the missions involved raiding fallen ships, retrieving the tech, reverse engineering it, and surviving. We had to prepare for the eventuality that another wave would be coming — if the plot is beginning to sound like Macross (i.e. Robotech), hopefully the next masters are not giant-sized! Even worse, let’s hope they do not look like Invid soldiers! Technically, the first advance fleet’s forces are slug-like since they are slimy and live in carapaces, their armour.
In what our game didn’t consider is using the alien technology. A rag-tag team of survivalists is not going to be able to storm any alien hive without the help of massive firepower! In the film, what’s left of the Marines and special ops forces plundered all working bits of alien technology so the tech-heads can develop aircraft to fly to the moon and build off-world colonies! The website offers some great background the world of ID4 has become, and my hope is that more detail is offered. I’m sure the nerds will love the idea of RPGing in this environment. In a video reel for the website, the promo reveals that mankind has established bases on Mars and Rhea — the second largest moon on Saturn! Humanity is now taking no chances in getting caught off guard! The world is ripe for further expansion and the movie alone may not be enough for enthusiasts of this film. The trailer itself shows the forces are ready.
In a mission to the Congo, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) finds that an alien settlement has been built, and what they have to face is problematical. The alien skulls prior to this scene is misleading. Visiting the Warof1996.com website is required to fill in the blanks of what the trailer is revealing. Since the first conflict, the tech is used to retrofit jets (I’m wondering if they will transform like the Veritechs!) and hopefully create plasma weapons. Those are the only devices that can potentially destroy the aliens.
Instead of a basic military institution, the ESD (Earth Space Defense) now handles all policing affairs. The name is not too different from the RDF (Robotech Defense Force) so I have to wonder about potential similarities with Harmony Gold‘s property. I’m suspecting there will not be much. The alien invasion and using their technology trope is as old as time.
In what I see is a potential for two stories happening side-by-side. I’m betting that Levinson will have to lead a team of soldiers into the alien base. That structure can not be dispensed of in quick order (unless someone happens to be carrying a micro-nuke). In what that scene suggests is that the aliens have made a pact with the Congo government. As the website reveals, this independent state refused help from the rest of the world. Just what are the Congolese planning? Could they be the real threat instead of the aliens? As with any decent trailer, the most telling moments are near the beginning.
Even though there is an all-star cast and hints of epic space battles to come, the story will most likely focus on what Levinson discovers in the outpost. It may well hold the secret to defeating the main fleet that will want to destroy the Earth than to plunder it.