Dear Hollywood, Stop giving Roland Emmerich money

Currently eating: Arnott’s Tic Toc cookies. It’s not snacking- they’re educational. I’m learning to tell time.
Currently listening to: Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack
Current obsession: Burt Bacharach

I said I would make this blog a collection of reviews for the movies and gigs I have seen recently, but once I started writing about the spectacular piece of hoo-hah that is 2012, it became clear that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The B-52’s and Fleetwood Mac were just going to have to wait…

Hahahaha!! Take THAT, Jesus!

I recently had the dubious displeasure of seeing 2012, because due to a typically large-scale marketing campaign it gave my darling mother the impression that it was a “good” movie, and perfect for some mummy/daughter bonding time. To be fair, I did derive a certain amount of enjoyment from the film, because I haven’t laughed that hard or continuously at a movie for a very long time. Please note: it is NOT a comedy. And also note that in order to rip this film to shreds I’m going to be dropping some major spoilers, but if you’re really, seriously concerned about me ruining the plot of 2012, then I suggest you seek professional help, because spoilers are the least of your worries.

The movie starts off with a series of seemingly unrelated, globe-hopping scenes designed to set up the story and introduce the 9275 different characters. It’s a device popularized by Steven Spielberg in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, intended to keep the audience’s interest piqued and to pose the questions that will be addressed in the course of the film. Speilberg naturally does this to brilliant effect – that is why Close Encounters is an undeniable classic. Note to Roland Emmerich re: Spielberg – Roland, you are NOT Spielberg. Within 5 minutes I was already impatient for all the characters to start dying, which I can only assume was not the original intention. The only thing Emmershit achieves is to bore and confuse the audience, and to prove what a tenuous grasp of world politics and geography he possesses. The scenarios range from the ridiculous to the plain insulting. The World According to Emmerich- All windows in the Louvre, including one opposite the Mona Lisa (which one would suppose is surely too valuable to be placed near a natural light source) show a view of the Eiffel Tower. All hotels in London have a view across the Thames of the House of Commons. There is a mine shaft in India that goes all the way to the Earth’s core; the slow, rickety elevator takes less than 20 seconds to reach the foot of the shaft; the Earth’s core looks like a lava lamp. If an assassination in Paris is required to look like an accident, it will be a car crash in the same tunnel that Lady Di died in (ooh, see what they did there? Topical). And in an insulting display of American imperialism, despite scientific information coming from around the globe, it can ONLY be the US President who alerts the leaders of all other nations (of which there are only eight) of the coming global catastrophe. Clearly no other nation is capable of reviewing the available data. Everyone knows that all world leaders do is sit around wringing their hands and waiting for the US President to tell them what to do- “God bless you, President Danny Glover! Without you the nation of Italy would surely just run into the sea like pizza-eating lemmings!”

Then of course, you’ve got your Everyman hero- the deadbeat down-at-heel who eventually comes to reveal himself to be the ass-kicking saviour of the human race. Does this Everyman have a typically deadbeat job? Yes, he’s a limousine chauffeur. But he really has some brilliant hidden talent, right? Yes! He’s a published (but unsuccessful) author. Is he struggling to redeem himself in the eyes of his children and his beautiful but emotionally distant ex-wife? Wow, how do you know all this? And I bet his beautiful but emotionally distant ex-wife has remarried a ridiculously successful, but slightly foppish Porsche-driving surgeon who his kids adore and is thus emasculating our Everyman Hero? His name is Gordon. You’re really good at this. So our Everyman Hero, played by the beautiful John Cusack, who really should have known better, is desperately trying to save his children and beautiful but emotionally distant ex-wife, (and poor foppish tag-a-long Gordon) in a series of desperate situations escalating in both level of danger and ridiculousness. There’s the race through the crumbling streets of Hollywood in a limousine, the race through the erupting hills of Yellowstone in a campervan, the race through a toppling cityscape in a light aircraft (Gordon can fly a plane! He’s had one lesson! Good for you, Gordon!), you get the idea. The limousine scene was what prompted my first serious attack of the giggles, particularly the giant donut, and the underground train shooting out of the side of a chasm into nothingness was just a bit too much for me to handle without hysterical laughter. I’ve mentioned the enormous building-crushing donut enough times already, I know, but I’m just trying to convince myself it actually happened. And perhaps I’m being overly sensitive on this one, seeing as it’s 8 years since the fall of the Twin Towers, but the image of a light aircraft dodging between falling highrises, and especially the shots of people dangling or falling from office blocks torn wide open left me feeling extremely uneasy. Having comical moments of giant donuts and then ultra-realistic shots of people tumbling to their deaths from the side of buildings just seemed very tasteless to me.

From that point in things just got worse. It seems as though Emmerich just threw every disaster movie cliche in indiscriminately. I think he must write scripts with the use of a chocolate wheel, but instead of prizes each segment of the wheel features an overused plot staple. He just gives it a spin and sees what it comes up with. The Disaster Cliche Chocolate Wheel landed on “soppy, emotional telephone call between estranged parent and child” four times. FOUR TIMES! Jesus. He’s really not even trying, is he? There’s even a cute little dog placed in danger (Disaster Movie Rule #145- you can kill as many people off as you want, but never kill a dog), the self-sacrificer, a Tibetan monk (to fill the quota of spiritualism needed), the raving madman whose crazy prophesies prove to be correct, the selfish Russian who gets his comeuppance, the obligatory “Do the right thing, where’s your HUMANITY?” speech, the ubiquitous shots of recognisable landmarks and monuments being destroyed in ever more elaborate ways (the White House is crushed by a gargantuan tsunami and the USS John F. Kennedy. Neat-o. My favourite was Rio De Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer enveloped by waves, see picture, above), and typically countries like Australia don’t even get a mention (presumably we just got flooded. Too bad.)

My favourite characters by far (which is saying a lot, because I wanted them all to die almost without exception) were the 12-year-old Russian twins, followed by Woody ‘Arrelson’s scraggy madman of the mountains. Woody for one was either not taking the role too seriously, or was far too deeply in character. Hard to tell with Woody ‘Arrelson. Now, as part of my “research” for this blog, I discovered the resumes of the Russian twins (who are not Russian at all! Gasp! As well as a Russian accent they are also masters of Cockney, British and New York/Brooklyn accents) and decided they were my new favourite people. Alexandre and Philippe Haussmann, if you were interested, are identical twins, although Philippe is 1 inch taller, and 11 pounds heavier. As well as acting, they are trained as dancers (line, square, break, club/freestyle), they both play French horn, can sing (Alexandre is an alto, Philippe a soprano), enjoy ice-skating, swimming, martial arts and are certified scuba divers. Their performance skills include, amongst other things, comedy, improvisation, ear prompting (I don’t know what that is. What is that?), firearms, and whistling. They both previously appeared on tv’s Most Evil, on which Philippe played the young John Wayne Gacy and Alexandre played the young David Berkowitz – Impressive! These kids are, like, 12 or something. What exactly were you doing at that age? Do you feel like a pathetic underacheiver now? Yeah, me too.

He's looking for Shelley Winters

Having exhausted every cliche on the chocolate wheel, Emmerich wasn’t opposed to unashamedly ripping off other disaster movies. Poseidon Adventure, anyone? There is even a shot of a luxury cruise liner capsizing, and a protracted, drawn out sequence towards the end that just smacks of Shelley Winter’s underwater swim in the original Poseidon Adventure. This is naturally a pivotal moment in 2012, because in one fell swoop it marks our Everyman Hero as the self-sacrificing saviour AND effectively kills off poor, foppish, plane-flying Gordon. Everyman Hero obviously survives his “suicidal” underwater rescue mission, and with Gordon effectively out of the picture (both literally and figuratively), EH and his emotionally unavailable ex-wife are making out before Gordon’s corpse has even grown cold. You heartless bastards. Still, without Shelley Winter’s enormous arse filling up the screen, some of the magic is lost.

My final word on 2012 is this, and listen VERY carefully (I’m looking at you, Jon Wong) – Disregarding the appalling story flaws, intellectually insulting plot, and clunky dialogue of a film with the retort “Yeah, but the special effects were great” IS NOT A VALID EXCUSE! In fact, it just makes the whole thing even more insulting. It’s like trying to excuse dreadful behaviour by claiming to have been drunk. It doesn’t matter if alcohol, or special effects, were involved, you’ve still done a terrible, abhorent thing, and you need to apologize to all the people you’ve hurt in the process. Films are meant to entertain, certainly, but not at the expense of the audience’s intelligence? I don’t care how spectacular the CGI in a movie is, I still expect all other aspects to have had just as much care put into them. How many countless billions were pumped into 2012’s CGI budget? Surely some of that should have been diverted into hiring decent scriptwriters? Roland Emmerich…you’re just…not good…at things.

Oh, and by the way, Alexandre and Philippe Haussmann are willing to work unpaid, and they have valid passports. Hire them.

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6 Responses to “Dear Hollywood, Stop giving Roland Emmerich money”

  1. blamey77 Says:

    Amazing! Charlie Brooker would be proud.

  2. Mel Says:

    I think this movie was aiming to be the archetypical disaster movie, which is why it had every cliche in existence. Something like Snakes on a Plane, but designed for a large audience who like masses of special effects.

    (There was an article I read once about the reasons Americans love these movies. It was incredibly patronising, but it did make some interesting points about why the cliches work so well.)

    I’m still not convinced it’s something I’d watch for fun, though. I love low-budget trainwrecks or stuff where I have to pause for a moment of “what the hell am I watching”. Not so keen on predictability.

  3. Jon Says:

    Great review and you makes you some valid points. Can you do a review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen because that needs to get the Floss treatment.

    • sarahfloss Says:

      No. I can not do a review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. That would require me to WATCH Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and that just ain’t gonna happen.

  4. Jessica Says:

    Oh I’ve missed Flossblog. Wonderful as always, those twins sound much better than us. I mean obviously my dance skills are up there but I can’t play French horn or sing. I love Woody ‘Arrelson. Go see Zombieland, now. Drop what you’re doing and go see it. Woody is ah-may-zing! All disaster movies are awful, here’s hoping Edgar Wright will save the genre.

  5. Mark Says:

    Feeling significantly underachieving. The twins = pure awesome. I mean how many types of dancing do you know and can do?

    and ear prompting? like someone whispers something in your ear and you do that? Like improv?

    Laughed the whole way through. Except the serious bits. Agreed with all of it. Except if we give Roland enough money, do you think he would piss off?

    Loved as always Floss.

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