An FAQ for Independence Day: Resurgence

By  · Published on June 24th, 2016

We attempt to answer burning questions about the ID4 sequel.

Independence Day is a crowd-pleasing blockbuster with a bunch of plot holes and loads of dumb science. Its new sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, is not much of a crowd pleaser but is a blockbuster with a bunch of plot holes and loads of dumb science. Both movies can be still be enjoyed as mindless popcorn fare despite their logic issues, but those issues still need to be addressed. Below is a list of 12 questions you may have had while watching ID:R and our attempt to answer them.

How did the world achieve total global peace for the last 20 years?

Early in the movie, we’re told there have been no wars on Earth since the Battle of ’96 against the alien invasion. Just as director Roland Emmerich intended to convey with the first movie, the world came together to fight a threat to them all. In the wake of all the disaster but also triumph, the nations have all united better than ever with an international council (apparently with Americans with the most power) and an Earth defense system set to protect us all. But the people of Earth are still humans, and perhaps it’s cynical to say this but it’s doubtful that not one war would be fought in all that time. Formerly allied nations had conflict after defeating the Nazis in World War II, right? It’s plausible we would have relative unification on this planet after what happened, but not absolute.

Why did Earthlings have visions of the aliens’ most feared enemy?

We can accept that the humans who had telepathic encounters with the aliens would now be slightly tapped into the new ship on its way with reinforcements. Residual psychic bond or whatever. But why do they have visions of the Sphere that the aliens hate so much? Is it because they fear the Sphere so much that it’s always on their minds? Or is the Sphere itself also somehow transmitting visions to Earthlings? It has to be the former, which doesn’t entirely make sense but is possible. It could also just be a matter of the Queen knowing the Sphere is likely headed to Earth, too, and it’s on her mind – and therefore all the aliens’ minds – to be wary of it and set on destroying it if seen.

Why didn’t the Sphere communicate its mission when it arrived?

So the Sphere’s plan was to swoop over to Earth and save the human race before the aliens got there, which is a fine plan if the unified intergalactic rebellion can’t defeat the aliens and help defend Earth instead. But the ship wasn’t very big, so presumably the idea was just to save some of us, enough that we’re not extinct. Still, why was there no way of communicating that this was a friendly ship on a rescue mission, especially given that it was destroying things in its path that make it seem like a hostile. It was operating as stealthily as it could, but with its extremely advanced technologies, surely there was a way to show up at Earth with signage.

Didn’t Dr. Okun die in the first movie?

Even though Major Mitchell (Adam Baldwin) felt his pulse after his alien tentacle strangulation, there was no statement of whether Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner) had one. He was never pronounced dead nor buried, so fair game. He just went into a coma for 20 years.

Are Dr. Okun and Dr. Isaacs a couple?

The definite answer here is yes, the two doctors are romantically involved. There are enough hints indicating this with certainty. The sad thing is that they never get to display any real physical affection towards each other, no kiss anyway, and most surprisingly Dr. Isaacs doesn’t immediately tell his partner that gay marriage became legal while he was under (hint hint) – though this is an alternate world, so maybe it didn’t. Anyway, it’s obvious the lack of explicit clarity of their relationship is for the sake of China.

Why do the aliens get right to drilling with no offensive measures?

Aside from making a cataclysmic mess of most of Asia, London, and America’s east coast during its landing over the Atlantic Ocean (but at least they didn’t crack the planet in half with their ship’s mass, as predicted?), the aliens aren’t at all interested in an offensive attack the way they were 20 years earlier. They’re just after Earth’s core, and this time they’ve apparently got a much faster drill so they believe it’ll just be an in and out job. And they are at least set up for defensive action when the Earthlings do come out to stop them. They then use that attack to their advantage in order to go on the offense to just take out the US leadership at Cheyenne Mountain.

Why are the aliens’ force fields so inconsistent this time?

Initially it seems odd that the new alien mothership doesn’t have a forcefield, but it turns out that may have been to bait the Earthling fighters with their wide open door leading inside. But other ships lack the same protection we saw from them in the original movie. Then Earth’s fighters couldn’t shoot them out of the sky, only lead them into crash situations. This time they lack such defenses. During some parts of the movie, however, ships do have forcefields, and of course the alien Queen has her own.

Why does the Queen have to get the Sphere herself?

Speaking of the Queen, it seems odd that she would leave her mothership to go after the Sphere. Sure, that’s an important mission, but Queens of her type don’t go on missions, if these aliens are like insects anyway. Even with her forcefield and war ship and protective drone ships, she’s still putting herself in a very vulnerable spot. And she has no reason to distrust that her drones couldn’t get the Sphere themselves. Even if not immediately. It’s not like the Sphere was an urgent threat to her operation. Other questions regarding the Queen’s trip to Area 51 include why did it take her and the other ships so long to get across the country while the Earthlings were able to devise and execute an intricate plan against her and why was there a gaping hole in her swirling drone shield. Regarding the latter, it’s not like this was truly a tornado that would come with an “eye” as Jake (Liam Hemsworth) points out. No, that swarm would be locked tight.

Why is the Sphere so special anyway?

The Sphere tells the Earthlings that we’re primitive because we still have bodies and she is just a consciousness. It seems her race reached technological singularity. So why is her Sphere body so important? Isn’t that also a body? One that protects her consciousness? One that the Queen is after and set on destroying because then the Sphere consciousness will be dead? Can her consciousness not be transferred to something else or travel through the Internet like Johnny Depp in Transference or float in the air in between molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide?

How are all Earthlings in constant communication with each other?

The question some may have here is can shortwave radio actually allow for such easy direct communication around the world, as with Area 51 and the treasure hunter ship in the Atlantic. And the answer is yes, though there might be some specifics as to the science and function of shortwave radio that someone out there could explain is done wrong in the movie. It certainly seems too easy that every character in the movie seems tuned into each other. Such as when Jake character and his fellow fighters show up in alien drone ships and are able to communicate easily with General-turned-President Adams (William Fichtner) and the rest at Area 51. And when the report comes back from the treasure hunters that the drilling has stopped and all the soldiers outside Area 51 immediately cheer. It just seems on screen like it’s just a matter of all characters being able to hear each other’s dialogue, always.

How did Jake know to attack the Queen in the back?

Speaking of communication, it’s unclear when Jake would have learned about the weak spot on aliens’ bodies. That was the thing warlord Umbutu (Deobia Oparei) introduced to a few characters (and the plot), but Jake wasn’t around for that lesson. Perhaps the strategy was later relayed to all soldiers, fighter pilots, etc., but it sure didn’t seem like Umbutu was just going around educating people on his own.

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Is Earth going to go wipe out the aliens now?

That appears to be so, whether there is a sequel to show us it happening or not, the cliffhanger in this movie indicates that the Earthlings will lead the intergalactic rebellions on a genocidal mission to wipe out the insectoid alien creatures. Never mind that we’re the primitive ones and haven’t been training for this mission for eons like the other good alien races out there working with the Sphere. We’ve done pretty well against them on our own, after all, some of it through sheer luck but also a lot of warrior spirit! And we’ll totally easily get along with all those other alien races because we’re the best, especially the white American ones of us.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.