20th Century Fox has green-lit Independence Day 2 to begin production in a few months, meaning the sequel looks to remain on schedule to arrive in theaters just in time to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of co-writer/director Roland Emmerich’s original alien invasion blockbuster. As further evidence of that, Emmerich has now confirmed that Jeff Goldblum will be reprising his Independence Day role in the sequel, while also confirming two new cast additions.
Emmerich has said in the past that the Independence Day sequel – which picks up in real-time after its 1996 predecessor – will carryover some players from the first movie, while introducing several others. Case in point, the director has also announced that Liam Hemsworth is officially onboard for this new project – and, in a separate social media announcement, Emmerich revealed Jessie Usher (Level Up, Survivor’s Remorse) is likewise part of the Independence Day 2 acting crew.
Independence Day 2 will reportedly pick up in the present-day, where humanity has found ways to utilize the alien invaders’ technology for its own purposes, but is nonetheless caught off-guard when the remainder of the alien fleet (which has been traveling via wormhole for the past twenty years) suddenly shows up, and is ready to take over Earth. Emmerich didn’t mention it in his Facebook post about Usher, but trade outlets such as THR are reporting that the latter will play the grown-up version of Dylan (Ross Bagley in the 1996 film).
Will Smith as Dylan’s father, Steven Hiller, isn’t expected to make an appearance in the sequel, so it remains to be seen how Smith’s absence will be explained (if at all). Meanwhile, as mentioned before, Goldblum is returning as David Levinson, while Hungers Games franchise costar Hemsworth is playing one of the young leads – again, though, Emmerich didn’t provide any further information, when he confirmed the pair by way of social media (see below).
The Independence Day sequel is different than 2015 franchise revivals like Jurassic World and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, in the sense that here, the filmmaker behind the previous installments (or, here, installment) is returning to call the shots on the newest chapter. Emmerich’s moviemaking style has gotten bigger and bolder over the years, as he’s had better visual effects and bigger budgets to draw from; his storytelling abilities have remained fairly constant, though, so big fun, dumb, summer popcorn tentpoles are still very much his speciality.
The Independence Day 2 script was penned by Emmerich, alongside frequent collaborator Dean Devlin, James Vanderbilt (White House Down) and lesser-known Carter Blanchard, so the narrative and character development ought to be on the same level as recent Emmerich films like White House Down, 2012, and so forth. The bigger question is, will the sequel’s ensemble cast be able to infuse the (inherently, somewhat campy) sci-fi proceedings with as much charm as the original 1996 movie’s crew did?
Independence Day featured a cast that included such talented and/or memorably quirky character actors like Goldblum, along with such folk as Bill Pullman and Judd Hirsch (both actors may also return for the sequel) as well as Will Smith, among others – leaving some big shoes to be filled by the likes of Hemsworth and Usher. For that reason, the concern is that Independence Day 2 might end up having to depend too much on the charisma of its older cast members, if the younger generation doesn’t measure up.
But, on the other hand, that’s the very same challenge that the cast and crew on such upcoming franchise revivals as The Force Awakens or this summer’s Terminator: Genisys face: proving that new life can be found in old ideas. Not ever revisitation of a nostalgic IP will probably be successful, though, so we’ll have to wait and see where Independence Day 2 stands once the dust has settled.
Independence Day 2 opens in U.S. theaters on June 24th, 2016.
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