In the run-up to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” last year, I confess that I felt envious of the franchise’s most ardent fans. Once upon a time I might have looked forward to that inevitable blockbuster with significantly more passion, but changing tastes over the years, and significant trepidation post-prequel letdown, left me on the outside looking in. And that is not the only time in recent years that I have felt myself longing for that feeling of...... What is it? What’s the word I’m looking for?
There used to be a time when the summer movie season was my jam, when I would snag that Entertainment Weekly Summer Movie Preview issue of the newsstand at Barnes & Noble and devour it with relish, and then devour it again just to make sure I didn’t miss something of importance. I would mentally note which movies I wanted to see, and which movies I really wanted to see. But that was another era, of course, one before the unyielding Interweb mudslide of movie “news” sites where every scant bit of communication proferred by publicists is put forth, chewed up and spit out, and where trailers are no longer relegated to movie screenings but get plastered all over everywhere and often dissected like John Madden with the Coach’s Clicker (guilty!). This inundation of “Coming Attractions” has caused that once special phrase to be drained of all its once considerable distinctive glee, that giddy sense of......What is it? What’s the word I’m looking for?
But then, it’s not merely the tidal wave of coming soon communication that frustrates me; it’s the product. As the summer movie season has, Atlanta-style, annexed more of the surrounding territory, seemingly spreading from late April into August, its quality of content has not, to my eyes, kept up. Perhaps this is merely because of the Superhero takeover which simply does not resonate with a Superhero agnostic such as myself. Perhaps this is because First Weekend Box Office has come to trump Formal Concerns. Now don’t get me wrong, I can still like summer movies. Truly, I can. “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” was on my year-end Best Of list; “Salt” was on my year-end Best Of list in 2010; I think Johnny Depp’s first go-around with Capt. Jack Sparrow was better than any awards-y acting in all of the aughts. But those were different. I fell in love after the fact and that’s not what I’m talking about here; I’m talking about falling in love before the fact; I’m talking about……dammit, what’s the word???
“Independence Day” (or “ID4” for the marketing gurus) was a seminal movie in my life. I loved the hell out of that rich, calorie laden summer movie bonanza, and the way that it both hinged on its alien invasion narrative while still giving space for Jeff Goldblum to kvetch, Will Smith to crack wise and Randy Quaid to Quaid it up. Then, when I embraced Hollywood’s Golden Age a few years later, I rejected “Independence Day” on account of my faux-snobbery. Then, when I rejected by faux-snobbery a few years after that, I re-embraced Roland Emmerich’s retro-disaster flick with all my might. As no less an authority than Ta-Nehisi Coates so wonderfully said last year: “Independence Day haters are on the wrong side of history.” Truth. And this love I have of “ID4”, well, that’s what’s got me feelin’ different this summer.
An “Independence Day” sequel had been rumored for so long that I’d more or less surrendered hope it would ever arrive. Yet, it became a reality, and it’s here. Well, it’s almost here; it’ll be here June 24th. “Independence Day Resurgence.” And I haven’t felt this way in so long, like a movie release date in June could not possibly get here fast enough. And this isn’t hype I’m talking about here, because it’s not the ad campaign that’s making me feel this way. And this isn’t expectations I’m talking about here, because expectations are what you place on a movie which give you an excuse to say you didn’t like it when those expectations aren’t met. No, this is something else.
What is it? What do you call it? What am I trying to say? I’m trying to say that I love going to the movies because going to the movies is a very good thing to do. But there is a moment just before you go to the movies which is better than when you are at the movies. I love that feeling. Yes, I do. I always have and I honestly thought I’d lost it for every summer movie season of the rest of my life. But now, it’s returned. So thank you, Roland Emmerich, whatever may come, for blessing me with the opportunity to once again revel in that old feeling of anticipation. God, it feels good.