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5 Deadly Sins of Roland Emmerich

The Predictions for 2012 The Movie

By Rob Vaux     November 13, 2009

 

 
In some ways, it's hard to jump on Roland Emmerich movies too strongly. They're like a big, dumb sheep dog that you can't help but love, even when he's soiling all over the rug. But the fact remains than Emmerich's body of work has done a lot of soiling, and the more we enable his goofy shenanigans, the less chance he has of ever learning. Scores of columnists have sounded off on the problems with Emmerich's films, but the essence boils down to five basic motifs which he insists on returning to time and time again. They don't detract from the fun--these are the films that Mystery Science Theater was made for, after all--but we need to collectively acknowledge how bad they really are.
 

5. The Laws of Physics

Movies get away with a lot when it comes to defying the laws of physics. Sprinting faster than explosions, curving bullets around corners… it's all good, provided it has at least a smidge of entertainment value. But Emmerich stretches those belief suspenders so far that they can't help but leave a mark when they inevitably snap back. Whether it's outrunning a cold front, ignoring the gravitational pull of a moon-sized spaceship or giving a golden retriever the magical ability to throw up an invisible force field protecting him from the incineration of a city, his films actively defy you to accept them on their own terms. There are Roadrunner cartoons with a closer basis in reality.
 

4. The Apocalypse Can Be Fun!

The real selling point of Emmerich films is watching the awesome destruction of some famous landmark… and to be sure, images of the White House exploding or the Statue of Liberty freezing solid hold a certain visceral thrill. But missing from the equation is the sense of human cost: the millions of people incinerated along with all those tourist attractions. Yes, if the characters broke down sobbing like we all did after 9/11, it would make for one hell of a buzz killer. But since we now know what a threatened city really looks like, can Emmerich at least acknowledge that it might not be as entertaining as his movies seem to think?
 

3. Wacky Comic Relief

Emmerich borrows a page from Hanna-Barbera cartoons (Gleek, Scrappy Doo, etc.) in presenting comic relief figures that turn out to be so annoyingly off-putting that you start rooting for the monster to eat them first. Randy Quaid takes the cake in this department with his alcoholic alien-hating crop duster from Independence Day, but why should Hank Azaria's sexist cameraman from Godzilla be left out? Or Glenn Plummer's argumentative vagrant in The Day After Tomorrow? The fact that most of these figures survive until the closing reels is only marginally less exasperating than the fact that genuinely talented actors agreed to play them.
 

2. Stupid, Stupid Good Guys

How do you lose track of a giant monster rampaging through New York? Why wouldn't you send the National Guard into the frozen tundra instead of going after your kid yourself? When you don't kill sabretooths because you feel sorry for them, they will eat you. And hey, maybe the last surviving member of the executive branch shouldn't get into that jet fighter cockpit to duke it out with the alien invaders.Morons.
 

1. Stupid, Stupid Bad Guys

Let's see, we have ancient Egyptians who need to go to Norway to procure their slaves, space aliens who made their indestructible force field Mac-compatible, and a Godzilla who hides from planes and tanks instead of chowing down on them like a fat man at Boston Market. And we're supposed to take them seriously as threats? Thankfully, the heroes seem hell bent on playing down to the competition, so at least the matchup is even.
 

 

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COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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okonomiyaki4000 11/13/2009 5:51:18 AM

1) It will be terrible.

2) It will be stupid.

3) It will have 15 minutes of fairly cool destruction and 120 of completely unwatchable crap.

4) It will cut back and forth between thirty useless characters nobody cares a thing about.

5) It will inexplicably make money, thus enabling these idiots to get funding to make yet another piece of shit with the same exact formula. 

marcd30319 11/13/2009 6:20:23 AM

There is also the WTF factor a.k.a. the Cheese Factor. Roland Emmerich's always have a very effective, intriguing set-up which is utterly undermined by a WTF moment and a descent into a vat of rancid cheese.

1) Stargate - Great set-up in 1926 Gaza with the mysterious alien artifact, with effective intros for co-heroes, a heretical archeologist and a grieving soldier. And then once they get there, we get a cheesy yak, a flouting pyramid with two lousy aircraft, and a Jaye Davidson.

2) Independence Day - Another great set-up with the huge spaceships' arrival and its destructive aftermath. Then we get Area 51, a crazy-haired Brent Spiner, and Judd Hirsch being everywhere.

3) Godzilla - When will the Big G appear, when is he goona show up and start stompin the Biog Apple? Oh, it's just a over-sized Iguana with a glass jaw. morning sickness, and like to dig!.

4) The Patriot - How about the Mel Gibson's little mute daughter who doesn't age a day even though the American Revolution lasted eight years?

This list isn't exhaustive, so please add to it at your displeasure.

dbrock06 11/13/2009 6:24:58 AM

okonomiyaki400   I agree completely.

We need to stop watching these monumental pieces of garbage and maybe Hollywood would get the message that we kind of like a little bit of story with our special effects.

DarthDuck 11/13/2009 7:01:43 AM

I liked Indepence Day - when I was 14!!  and of course who doesn't like Will Smith.

Bill Pullman's speech at the end of ID4 has got to be one of the stupidest movies speeches of all time!

avidfan 11/13/2009 7:02:35 AM

Independence Day was awesome.  I hold no shame in admitting that. 

persona-non-grata.com

ddiaz28 11/13/2009 7:10:52 AM

I make no apologies for giving Emmerich my money.  I'm going to see it tonight.  I'm going to turn my brain off.  I'm going to let slide the sub-par acting and obvious breaks in the laws of physics and probability. And most importantly, I'm going to have fun. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I wish people would stop complaining that there is.

dakomon 11/13/2009 7:21:13 AM

Wait a minute. Are you saying in point 2 that his films need to be less entertaining? Its a movie. Suspension of disbelief helps. I would like to see something that would never happen in real life. A movie about 9/11 is not entertainment.

panzerhd 11/13/2009 7:32:50 AM

Just enjoy the dam movie for what it is....  There is not a movie out there that you can't analize to death, so just enjoy the blow shit up over the top big cgi movies for what they are.

renderman72 11/13/2009 7:34:13 AM

Man is it just me or is it like the new fad to be a hater? Everyone hates everything! I'm with ddiaz. I'm going to go and kick back and have a bag of popcorn and enjoy a fun movie. I liked Independence Day and Stargate. They were just fun scifi movies that were full of action and adventure. What's wrong with watching something just for the fun of it? Honestly, the hating thing is just gettting tiresome. People just need to stop already.

Wiseguy 11/13/2009 8:35:23 AM

I'm checking it out this weekend. What's so bad about eye candy and a few laughs

I don't mind people hating on this since I have a good share of stuff I hate. At least Rob made it funny

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