Director Spotlight: Roland Emmerich

This weekend we have a release of Independence Day: Resurgence, set 20 years after the original. Which was exactly 20 years since the release. I’m not sure if I’ll find time to squeeze in the world annihilation popcorn flick of the summer this weekend so we’ll see if I’ll have a review out by the end of the weekend.
Every director has some signature features that every one of their movies have. A few months ago I did an expose on Michael Bay. There’s a lot of similarities between Emmerich and Bay, most noticeably is the amount of explosions and special effects driven destruction. (By the way. I’m literally writing this while I’m watching 2012.)
Emmerich loves to destroy landmarks in his films. “Disaster porn” is what has been dubbed when it comes to Emmerich’s work. Independence Day has a very famous white house destruction scene that is even used in other movies. Even Godzilla, had specific scenes of destroying key New York City landmarks. As I’m watching 2012, I’m reminded on how much destruction that Emmerich unleashes onto the screen. He doesn’t hold back. And honestly, I expect nothing less. Below is a short list of films directed(that I have currently seen) and is probably most known for. The percentage is the critics rating according to the tomatometer.

Independence Day (1996) – 61%
Synopsis – The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind’s best weapon is the will to survive.

Of course, this is probably Roland’s most popular movie. That riveting speech from the President before launching an assault on the alien warships will always be one of the best president speeches to grace the big screen. And who can forget Will Smith’s charismatic performance and punching an alien in the face then greeting him with the iconic line, “Welcome to earth”. Not only that, probably one of the most memorable part of the film is the destruction sequence that the aliens unleash onto the major cities like New York, L.A, and D.C. I still think that dog should have been dead. Independence Day will always be one of the best summer blockbuster thrills.

The Patriot (2000) – 61%
Synopsis – Denny Gibbons, a peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

This would be Roland’s highest critic rated film, and I believe its historically inaccurate in most if not all of its aspects. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this. What I remember most is Mel Gibson taking down a group of men with an ax, that epic slow-mo scene of the guy trying to erect an American flag when everything is exploding around him, and when that cannon ball taking out the one fella’s leg. All that pretty much says how I felt about that movie.

Godzilla (1998) – 16%
Synopsis – A giant, reptilian monster has surfaces, leaving destruction in its wake. To stop this monster (and it’s babies), an earthworm scientist, his reporter ex-girlfriend, and other unlikely heroes team up to save their city.

I remember when this came out in theaters, I begged and begged for my dad to take me to see it. By the time he time he caved, it was pulled out of theaters and instead we saw Michael Bay’s Armageddon. I did end up seeing it when it came out for rental and as a kid, i really enjoyed it. Nevermind, that the giant lizard look nothing like the original Japanese monster. I watched it again a few months ago, and never realized how cheesy it was. For what it’s worth, a giant lizard tearing up New York makes for a fun popcorn flick, but I wouldn’t call it Godzilla.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – 45%
Synopsis – Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.

New York gets all the spotlight when it comes to Roland’s disaster flicks. This time, New York gets hit with a tsunami then blasted with an ice age temperature that kills almost instantly if someone wasn’t near a heat source. Except for those random wolves that show up when the students, for whatever reasons, had to go to the big ship that was left onto the streets of New York after the tsunami pulled away.

Stargate (1994)- 48%
Synopsis – An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra.

Stargate was one of those films that wouldn’t be classified in Roland’s disaster line, but more along the lines of an original cult classic for the sci-fi genre. It spawned a long running series Stargate SG-1 with a few direct to video movies and tv spinoffs. The original movie starring Kurt Russell nearing the end of his prime, although recently he has returned to co-starring in films like Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and the recent Furious 8. Now, we know that there will be a reboot to the franchise, but what’s interesting is Emmerich will be rebooting his own movie.

White House Down (2013) – 51%
Synopsis- While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.

I get this one confused often with Olympus has Fallen which was released a few months earlier. The premise is pretty much the same. Though, this one may be a little less serious with Channing Tatum than Gerald Butler. Also Jamie Foxx was a better livelier president than Aaron Eckhart was, but that’s just my opinion. The destruction I believe was more catastrophic in Olympus with the Washington monument taken out, but the same time White House Down had obliterated Air Force One. If anything Olympus was rated R, so there was a higher on-screen body count.

10,000 B.C. (2008)- 8%
Synopsis – A prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter’s journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe.

When the trailer came out, I thought this movie was going to be so cool. Man, was I wrong. Sorry if you happen to like this movie, but I thought it was a major disappointment. The only highlight was the opening mammoth chase sequence. Then everything went downhill fast. I still remember being hugely let down with the fight with the sabretooth. Maybe someday soon in the near future, someone will come up with a better script and pitch a movie set in the prehistoric era.

Universal Soldier (1992)- 19%
Synopsis – Private Luc Deveraux and his sadistic sergeant, Andrew Scott, got killed in Vietnam. The army uses their bodies for a secret project – reanimating dead soldiers as deadly obedient cyborgs. However, their memories come back too.

I remember seeing this when I was a little kid, and all I remember is that it stars Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. I may need to revisit this film. I’m aware that there has been sequels to this film, so there is some merit.

2012 (2009) – 39%
Synopsis – A frustrated writer struggles to keep his family alive when a series of global catastrophes threatens to annihilate mankind.

The one thing I couldn’t shake while watching this movie is how damn lucky John Cusack’s character and his character’s family is throughout the whole movie. The way they managed to escape every single falling debris, ground splitting open, outrunning flaming clouds and tsunamis that literally covered mountains is beyond me. When he was getting his family out of LA, I laughed about half way through that sequence because there’s no way anyone would have driven out of that catastrophic disaster. But alas, we wouldn’t have our protagonist had he and his family not survive. I felt like 2012 was Emmerich pushing the limit on just how much destruction he can fit into one movie and see how the audience responds.
There you have it, a look into Roland Emmerich and his movies. Last but not least, Emmerich has pitched a movie idea which seems be gaining interest called Moonfall, which is exactly what it sounds like. Coming very soon is the review for the latest film, Independence Day: Resurgence.

Featured Image courtesy of Fox Pictures.

Author: Timothy Noble

Actor, movie buff, and living life to the fullest.

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