Why does Roland Emmerich hate the world?

November 10, 2009

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What! Fucking! Ian guy?! There was a time that John Cusack had girlfriend problems. Now he's a dad occupying the foreground framed by the background of Roland Emmerich disasters. (Columbia Pictures/Sony)

On Friday, the much-advertised gargantuan-FX behemoth 2012 comes out. The film is the latest world-destroying epic from director Roland Emmerich, perhaps best known for his entertaining world-destroying Independence Day, his not-so-entertaining NY-destroying Godzilla '98 and his decidedly ungood world-destroyed-by-climate-change The Day After Tomorrow.

He also made the passable history-as-a-Mel-Gibson-revenge-melodrama The Patriot and the lame pyramids-built-by-aliens Stargate.

Independence Day, probably Emmerich's best entertainment, worked on its chosen level of lightweight summer popcorn movie (with the question of just how much the destruction of the world could be portrayed as lightweight being answered, "quite a bit"). The White House and Empire State Building blown up! Awesomely!

Godzilla was a bad movie, with its annoying characters and mindless destruction for the sake of destruction. And The Day After Tomorrow was pretty lame. I just can't abide the end of that movie, where the characters were RUNNING AWAY FROM LETHALLY COLD AIR, as if you can escape the flow of air by RUNNING TO A DIFFERENT ROOM.

Now comes 2012. I will probably end up seeing it, because THE WORLD GETS DESTROYED ROLAND EMMERICH STYLE, and it might be awesome. And look! It stars the usually great John Cusack! (Although, he's playing a dad, and not the kind of ironic cynic we loved him for in movies like High Fidelity.) But knowing Emmerich's penchant for broad disaster-movie characters and clichés, 2012 could very well suck, too. So we'll see.

But with yet another world-ending movie, I have to wonder what it is about Roland Emmerich. Is he constantly haunted by visions of the end of the world? Is this his outlet? Or does he simply hate the world so much that he wants to destroy it over and over again in his movies? Okay, I don't think he hates the world. He just sees the world as a fictional playground to stage as much over-the-top mayhem and destruction as possible. PG-13 mayhem, of course.

Must be a fun job. Then again, maybe not. Overseeing a project that consists of producing two hours of digital effects shots must be awfully tedious.

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18 comments on this post

    I actually enjoyed Stargate (Kurt Russell & James Spader are always worth watching), & Independence Day had a pleasant cast & awesome SFX to allow me to (just barely) forgive the canyon-sized plot holes.
    The Day After Tomorrow, however, SUCKED-big time; despite the underrated Dennis Quaid & the gorgeous Emmy Rossum. Godzilla, likewise, was a Jurassic Park-wannabe.
    Here's hoping 2012 comes off better (both the film & the year itself, when we get to it).

    I was considering seeing it... until I read that it is 159 minutes long. Might end up being a rental.

    Stargate was a decent movie Jammer, but the followup series SG1 was better. The whole pyramids-built-by-aliens thing is very superficial, because the series goes far beyond that.

    To judge by the trailers alone, 2012 will be a mindblowingly silly over the top destruction desaster film, seasoned with yet another clichéd storyline of a divorced dad/mother struggling to save his/her child(ren) by outrunning the desaster and incidentally re-uniting with the estranged other parent (provided said other parent didn't die prior to the start of the movie). It's a trope so common in blockbuster disaster movies that it is paint by numbers for the script writers. The children will be either cloyingly cute (usually a girl) or bratty and annoying (usually a boy), and at some point the adults will have to risk their own lives to save the child because it stupidly ran away, or didn't run to safety when it should have but stood there frozen to the spot. Meh. In Emmerich's defense, every disaster movie seems to use this damn overused trope about the value of the family and blablabla that Americans are so fond of. Just look at that War of the Worlds remake with Tom Cruise. Or at The Patriot.

    No thanks, I'll pass. Disaster movies usually bore me because I can see all the plot twists coming from miles away.

    Funnily enough, my husband and I quite enjoyed Emmerich's Godzilla. For one thing because it starred Jean Reno being awesome! And because I'm no Japanese B-Movie Rubbersuit Godzilla purist, so I didn't give a damn if this big lizard was "faithful" to those old lame movies or not. Hey, it was a giant T-Rex stomping through New York! So what? At least it didn't spit lightning and wrestle with a giant alien moth. And I liked the characters (ok, except for the two annoyingly stupid reporters).

    But I have the suspicion that I know exactly why the movie flopped in the USA: Because it wasn't about a bunch of American Marines let by a quirky scientist saving the world from Godzilla, but about a group of French Secret Service agents advised by a Greek biologist (Dr. Niko Tatopoulus) saving New York from Godzilla. And making snide remarks about undrinkable American coffee. ;-) That must've bruised some "patriotic" egos.

    In fact, I once saw comments on an internet forum where some poster was in a huge snit about the way the American soldiers in the movie were shown to be "useless", as he called it. Because they didn't manage to blow the shit out of Godzilla with their weapons. Nevermind that military weapons never stopped the Japanese Godzilla either...

    2012 looks like it will be pure disaster porn. On that level, it may just work.

    Stargate is very underated IMO. ID4, also brilliant. The rest I can take or leave. This is destruction porn of the highest order and whilst I probably wont rush to the cinema to see I will seek it out on DVD.

    No, not planning on Stargate reviews here. But my dislike of Stargate the movie has no bearing on the TV shows. I have no opinion of the TV shows because I haven't watched them. The fact I haven't watched them has nothing to do with the fact I didn't like the movie. It has everything to do with the fact that I watch what I watch, and Stargate just never was on that viewing schedule (nor was B5, Firefly, or plenty of others).

    You know Jammer in this day of TV on DVD, Netflix, and Hulu you really ought to try some of that stuff that you missed. B5, Firefly, and Farscape (if you haven't seen it) would be on the top of my recommendations for you to check out.

    Also need to defend Stargate - the first act especially is really quite intriguing and mysterious. The concept is executed really well, and only falls apart in the second half when it becomes a standard military/population uprising story. They didn't seem to know *where* to go with the concept, though I thought that the series developed it fairly well.

    I liked The Day After Tomorrow too. It's silly, to be sure, but I'd say that it's one of the best overwrought disaster movies made since the 1970s. The real bottom of the barrel for Emmerich, though, is surely 10,000 BC, a sort of mismash of previous Emmerich movies with paper thin characters and a thinner story.

    Matt L: I'm aware of the options available in this age of DVD, Netflix, Hulu, etc. But it's really more a matter of time. I've not felt the need to spend the time and go the retrospect route on those particular shows. Maybe someday, but also possibly not, because there's always something new that tends to take precedence.

    The Stargate shows are much, much better than the mediocre film that spawned them. That whole franchise is kinda comparable to Star Trek. SG-1 is sort of the classic series, like TNG is... although it went on for 2 years too long. Atlantis is very much like Voyager. Tons of potential, but it ultimately failed to use said potential. And Universe... I think you'd really like Universe. Great franchise. Maybe some day you'll see 'em.

    Stop suggesting Jammer watches more TV. His TV should be taken away until he finishes his TNG reviews.
    I understand reviewing them without a TV will be difficult but these are tough times and hard measures must be taken.

    How seriously can I take someone who describes the film Independence Day as "brilliant?"

    Actually, TS, there were times when I was watching SG-1 when I thought SG-1 was more like Star Trek than the new Star Trek shows.

    Universe seems like a darker show. Like it's a parallel with Battlestar Galactica. The original series was a light action show. This new one seems more like a dark drama.

    To me 2012 is pretty much Day after Tomorrow X 100. It's definitely disaster porn, but not as bad as I feared. It worked for me, as long as I kept my suspension of disbelief.

    There are plenty of holes I'm able to overlook. The only thing that bothers me are some of the arbitrary character deaths, and the fact that you can predict every inch of the plot to the point where act 2 ends and act 3 begins. It's that hammy.

    Woody Harrelson keeps most of the first act funny and watchable though.

    Emmerich made the disaster film to end all disaster films. And he already said he doesn't plan on getting back to this genre again, despite rumors of an ID4 sequel.

    I actually enjoyed the Stargate film. Russell and Spader fit the story well. Can't comment on the show, since I only saw the original pilot, and nothing else. And I loved Independence Day. I still do to this day, because it had a great music score, terrific design of alien craft, and it put comedic characters who made the story feel less serious.

    Poltargyst: How so?

    Eduardo: You should give SG-1 a shot, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. The thing is, the first half of the first season is mostly... bad. But the show found it's footing pretty quickly, especially compared to other shows like TNG or even DS9. It's worth a look.

    I love the Stargate franchise. How could you not like the characters of SG1 and Atlantis? They feel like real people set in todays timeline. Like B5, just more updated.

    And I agree with TS's view. It took until the 3rd last episode of the 1st season (where Jackson goes to an alternate reality which Earth is being ransacked which affects the season finale in the current reality)

    But I agree with Jammer too, there is too much TV and too little time. Ive never watched The Shield, Homicide, CSI, and countless others. I simply dont have the time.

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