This article contains minor spoilers for moon fall (2022).
Roland Emmerich killed billions of people. Since 1984, through his time creating movies for the big screen (emphasizing “big” here; he’s a man who made a $100 million independent film), Emmerich hasn’t made trying more and more to destroy planet Earth with his films. . Whether it’s climate catastrophe, aliens or an infamous Mayan prophecy, Emmerich has happily blown up the White House, the Vatican, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building across films. like Independence Day and 2012.
In his latest blockbuster, moon fall, the moon’s path mysteriously changes and is now rushing towards our world. It’s monumental, it’s brash, it’s wildly stupid, but it’s grounded in its (attempts, anyway) human characters going through this horrible, catastrophic ordeal. At the center of it is disgraced astronaut Patrick Wilson, blamed by NASA for negligence a decade ago — when in fact the same menace that killed his team that day has returned and threatens to destroy life as we know it.
Wilson’s teenage son also remains at the center of the story, as he leads a ragtag group of survivors seeking shelter. Coincidentally, Halle Berry’s son is at their side, keeping the stakes high on Earth (time is running out) and in space (as the moon faces head-on). Meanwhile, the boy’s father, Halle Berry’s ex-husband, has his finger on the trigger for nukes.
Honestly, the whole movie is a mess, with big chunks of exposition surrounded by the cheap plot device of an all-knowing US government with access to everything, and pretty much nothing reflecting a working system in reality; often ridiculous, it’s part of this film’s spectacular banana DNA. Critic Mark Kermode called the frolic “radioactively stupid”, but a look back at Roland Emmerich’s destructive oeuvre reveals a single recurring theme across countless films: Fathers and sons against the apocalypse.
Total destruction was my father’s name!
In 2004 Two days later, paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) must travel across the United States to save his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) from severe and drastic climate change, while keeping his son informed of how to survive the process. Chez Emmerich (really superb) Independence Day, Cocksure air fighter pilot Will Smith has a young son at home, believed to have been killed by the alien attack. Smith’s co-star, the introvert David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), also has an extremely close relationship with his own father; a man who would keep track of his son for the duration of the race.
In the final battle, Randy Quaid’s son watches from the control room as his washed (and supposedly deranged) father sacrifices himself to save the day in a sort of last hurrah suicide bomber, his perceived former madness actually being revealed. as a kind of insider knowledge. the continuation of 2016 to Independence Day would remove Smith’s Captain Hiller from the story entirely, replacing him no less with… his now grown son from the first film.
In addition to directing these films, Roland Emmerich was also credited as a writer on all of them. With such a long list of examples (and a creative word in his characters), the father-son relationship seems to be a recurring theme that Emmerich is more than happy to return to again and again. Same Joey, his first real film (after his thesis project The Principle of Noah’s Ark), tells the story of a nine-year-old boy trying to reconnect with his dead father through supernatural means.
Balance in the face of danger
Nothing anchors a strange disaster — be it the moon, climate change, earthquakes, Godzilla, terrorists in the White House, aliens, etc. — like a family spirit. As ridiculous as anything Roland EmmerichThe ideas of maybe, a relationship with a father (whether that good, or more often frayed in these cases) is something that literally every audience member can relate to. Add universal themes like a workaholic dad, or an alcoholic dad, or a disgraced dad to his films (aside from their fictional lives as two-dimensional American caricatures who hold high-profile positions in the 1% ), and we’re finally given something to relate to pure Hollywood fantasy.
Amid the spectacle of Roland Emmerich movies and the taste of overpriced yellow popcorn between your teeth, there’s a thread of reality to keep our beliefs (and attention spans) hooked.
These highly fictional characters are constantly bombarded with the reminder that, yes, there is something (or someone, in these cases) still worth fighting for among the wreckage of their big-budget CGI armageddons. Growth for these clichéd Hollywood heroes comes from surviving this ordeal, moving away from it, and working through their fragile relationships with their children; post this otherworldly mayhem they both just survived. By the time the credits are ready to roll, all of these movies share pretty much the exact same ending: the estranged parent is reunited in the foreground of a bright, beaming sun, then they embrace; presumably living beyond the credits and living a richer life together. It really is that simple and is repeated many times in most of Roland Emmerich’s films, from his first German films to his work in English after his first big breaks with universal soldier and stargate
On his movie 2012a photo showing John Cusack’s determined father risking his life to save his children from a deadly earthquake, Emmerich spoke to Zamm about how his focus on family relationships has steadily increased, saying:
I always knew we would be visual effects heavy. We tried to counter that with more character and story development. That was really our goal. Yes, we have more effects than I’ve ever had, but I think we also have more character development than I’ve ever had in a movie. So it’s kind of a balance that we have.
Off-screen, you get the impression that family in general is an important factor for German-born Emmerich. Having co-founded the production company Centropolis Entertainment with his sister, Ute Emmerich, the two have been involved in making films side by side since 1985. Having worked together professionally for so long, Ute’s role now is to act in as an executive producer on Roland’s films, and his Facebook page highlights his many on-set dates with his brother. Speaking to CNN in 2008, Ute noted that their own father was “very, very supportive” of Roland’s early career, going so far as to let his son use desks at their garden tool factory, and said lent a hand to finance his first films.
If you don’t like Roland Emmerich‘s, nothing is going to change that. Nonetheless, he is an artist who keeps the smoking crater that is the Disaster Movie alive for audiences eager to escape the catastrophe that is everyday life. As a European artist, he would turn his back on the trends of his home country and create original films in an American sandbox of Stars and Stripes and positive attitudes struggling with insurmountable odds. His films have become essential for the Hollywood blockbuster and an all-in-one flanderization.
As an alien in the United States, he crushed the pencil-thin cigarettes of his arthouse roots to smoke the cigars and alien punches of Will Smith and other Hollywood stars in his Hollywood films. Will Roland Emmerich’s films continue to be only a variation on a theme (catastrophe, and surviving it father and son)? Yes. Are a good majority of us audience members going to continue to buy tickets and ignore the basic storylines featuring surprisingly tender and consistent father-son relationships, for the sake of seeing all the f**king moon collide with Earth? Hell yeah we are. We trust Roland Emmerich, like any good dad, to provide.
Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson star in Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi disaster epic Moonfall.
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