Ok, as you can probably tell, I like Hollywood productions… I could ramble on for pages justifying why I consider myself a motion pictures critic, but I would be lying. I am not such thing. The fact is I enjoy pop and mainstream movies just like most of you do.
However, I do know how to recognize when a movie is good, not great, or even when it is rubbish, even though I enjoyed it. Both things happen to me when I watch Roland Emmerich movies.
This German filmmaker has given some serious blockbusters to the Hollywood industry, nevertheless, he seems to manage to be slammed by the critics every single time he releases a film.
The first Emmerich film I watched was ‘Independence Day‘ (1996)… it blew my mind off. Of course, I was just a kid, which allowed me to have enough spare time to watch it more than 50 times (roughly). The performances by Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith, the special effects (American landmarks being mercilessly destroyed by aliens), the music, the film had almost everything a kid could ask for in a movie. Now, I know there are plenty of movies about alien invasions out there, but you have to acknowledge this is always in the top 5.
In 1998 Emmerich gave us ‘Godzilla‘. It was a tough year for the science fiction disaster films, considering ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Deep Impact’ were also released. ‘Godzilla’ had destruction, military deployment and vicious creatures, however it lacked something and was not that fun. There was some serious criticism about the monster’s design, but, come on! Look at today’s creatures in movies, the one in ‘Cloverfield’? Its cousin, the one in ‘Super 8’? Those are not great either.
‘The Patriot‘ (2000) was the next Emmerich film I watched. I really enjoyed it, not because of Heath Ledger’s performance (which I found lame) but because Mel Gibson’s character (Benjamin Martin) rage, and his feud with Jason Isaacs (Col. Tavington), portraying the commander of the Green Dragoons. Also, the aunt Charlotte looked pretty hot!
‘The Day After Tomorrow‘ (premiered in Mexico City on 2004) was really interesting. A movie about the global warming and those who are sceptic about it. Scientist being ignored is a concept Emmerich has taken in many films, he did it in ‘Godzilla’ and he did it later in ‘2012’. I have the feeling he somehow tries to portray his own frustration when it comes to his devotion to create awareness about environmental issues and the lack of government preparation for facing unusual scenarios. Plus, in ‘The Day After Tommorrow’ he worked with Emmy Rossum, what’s not to like?
In 2008 ‘10,000 BC‘ was released. I haven’t watched this one more than two or three times, but I reckon it has more than two or three historic inaccuracies and mistakes… then again, the man is a story teller, not a historian, he has never claimed he’s the next Herodotus, has he?
Finally, we get to ‘2012’, one of Emmerich’s most criticized works. I like it! Although there is a clear abuse of special effects, and the script is not great, once again the filmmaker made me feel intrigued, looking forward to an unexpected outcome, just like in ID4. I found some characters hilarious, like Charlie Frost and Yuri Karpov (“it’s Russian” referring to a massive aircraft, the Antonov, which actually is not Russian, but Ukrainian).
There are more films by Roland Emmerich but I haven’t watched them all, maybe someday I will. This post is just about the films I’ve actually seen.
Emmerich’s movies might not be Academy Award material, I’ll give you that. Most of them have an unique way to piss-off scientist and sci-fi geeks, but they bring about their absolute purpose… to entertain audiences, and that my friends is what the movies industry is all about, isn’t it?
March 9th, 2012.