March 2024


Roland Emmerich

Midway (2019)

DIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich

CAST: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Keean Johnson, Luke Kleintank, Darren Criss, Tadanobu Asano, Etsushi Toyokawa


One goes into “a film by Roland Emmerich” with tempered expectations. I wasn’t expecting the next great war epic, but I had—I thought—reasonable expectations of something along the lines of Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor; some big-scale war action intermixed with corny human drama. Alas, even for those modest expectations, Midway fails to deliver, once again begging the question of why such a hack as Emmerich continues to have his relentless mediocrity rewarded with gigs directing big-budget disaster/war movies. In fact, while I’m no Michael Bay fan, one could say that at least Bay knows he makes big, dumb action flicks where lots of stuff blows up real good. Emmerich occasionally displays pretensions of helming historical epics, and here (as usual) his reach exceeds his grasp.

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The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

day afterDIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich

CAST: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Ian Holm, Sela Ward, Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Kenneth Welsh, Austin Nichols, Tamlyn Tomita, Glenn Plummer, Nestor Serrano


By now, anyone walking into the theater to see a movie whose opening credits include “a film by Roland Emmerich” should know what to expect.  From Independence Day to the deservedly much-maligned 1998 Godzilla reboot, to his later disaster movie 2012, Emmerich reliably serves up a cocktail of similar ingredients: a sprawling ensemble of one-dimensional characters scurrying around in the wake of some cataclysm, including corny dialogue, earnestly overdramatic speechifying, a bunch of splashy special effects, the gleeful annihilation of famous landmarks (especially ones located in New York City), and a tidal wave of cliches as towering as any onscreen.  Within that narrow variance of mediocre and slightly above or below, The Day After Tomorrow falls somewhere in the marginally above average range; it’s more watchable than Godzilla but not as cheesily entertaining as Independence Day (probably Emmerich’s biggest “epic”).  It’s wildly over-the-top global disaster scenario bears more than a passing resemblance to the even more wildly over-the-top 2012.  Unfortunately, a slightly above average Roland Emmerich movie is still mediocre by general film standards.  Nonetheless, those who watch what Emmerich churns out should know what they’re getting, and if all you demand is some big-budget effects of mass destruction and some “check your brain at the door” disaster movie sequences, The Day After Tomorrow should prove serviceable entertainment. Continue reading

The Patriot (2000)

patriotDIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich

CAST: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, Joely Richardson, Tcheky Karyo, Chris Cooper, Tom Wilkinson, Lisa Brenner, Rene Auberjonois, Adam Baldwin, Gregory Smith


With The Patriot, one gets the feeling screenwriter Robert Rodat was trying to do for the American Revolution what he previously did for WWII with Saving Private Ryan.  To an extent, he deserves credit, as The Patriot is, oddly enough, virtually the only big-budget Hollywood film portraying the Revolutionary War.  Alas, the man in the director’s chair here is not Steven Spielberg, but Roland Emmerich, he who leaves no cliche unused.  The Patriot is a marked improvement over its immediate predecessor on Emmerich’s filmography, 1998’s Godzilla bastardization, but features too many “a film by Roland Emmerich” hallmarks to be the true great war epic it clearly fancies itself. Continue reading