November 1, 2009 |
Roland Emmerich has an ongoing project: destroying the world. In 1996's Independence Day, the German director sent aliens to wipe out the White House. In 1998, he unleashed Godzilla to wreak havoc on the streets of New York. In 2004's The Day After Tomorrow, he froze the planet in a new ice age. But in his new film, 2012, to be released Nov. 13 and already the eye of a vast promotion storm, things get really bad. Emmerich, who has earned the unofficial title of "Master of Disaster," admits having searched Google for a doomsday scenario even more spectacular than his previous destructions of Earth.
September 29, 1986 |
Making Contact is a dispirited and incoherent movie about the next world that has no place in this one. Anyone who can make the slightest sense of it is surely destined for a just reward in the hereafter. The villain of the piece is a ventriloquist's dummy, who, having command of two expressions and the ability to move his head, easily makes off with the acting honors. But before you blame the actors for this, just try saying, "I once read that such phenomena occur during puberty" as though it were a line of natural dialogue.
March 7, 2008 |
Who says movies aren't educational? Films about prehistoric life offer so many unexpected lessons. As I remember it, in One Million Years B.C. , cavebabe Raquel Welch, member of the pacific Shell tribe, whips up the breastcloth/loincloth bikini and teaches manners to unrefined John Richardson, expat from the warrior Rock tribe. In Caveman , Ringo Starr invents the wheel, the joke and (literally) rock-and-roll music. In Quest for Fire , Rae Dawn Chong essentially invents language and the missionary position.
April 6, 1998 |
Here's the bare-bones plot of Tri-Star Pictures' $100 million sci-fi blockbuster "Godzilla," scheduled for release May 20: A huge lizard with big spiked plates down his back - a dead ringer for a dinosaur - shows up in the middle of New York City. It's up to Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno and Hank Azaria, among others, to stop the creature before it whomps and stomps Manhattan - as well as the rest of the world - into dust. Does this sound familiar? Of course. After all, there have been 22 previous movies about Godzilla.
June 22, 2000 |
The Revolutionary War may have ended more than 200 years ago, but the British are still taking potshots at the Americans. The latest target is "The Patriot," the mega-budget Mel Gibson film opening June 28. Set during the War of Independence, the film has been trashed by at least two major London dailies for its alleged historical inaccuracies. The Express complained that "the movie's baddies are, as usual, the treacherous, cowardly, evil, sadistic Brits. " Another, the prestigious Times, says the film is "a 160-minute polemic against the British.
May 19, 1998 |
If the 1954 Godzilla - dreamed up by Japanese producer Tomoyuki Tanaka as he flew over the nuked Bikini atoll - can be read as an allegory about atomic-age anxiety and dread of the Bomb, what is Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's new Godzilla an allegory for? How about modern-day media hype and marketing overkill? With its mega-mantra "Size Does Matter" affixed to buses and billboards, Taco Bell TV spots and four-foot promotional pencils courtesy of TriStar Pictures (I'm writing this review with one)
July 17, 2002 |
"The town is being overrun by giant spiders!" yelps one of the panic-stricken overrunees in Eight Legged Freaks, an arachnids-on-the-attack romp that combines over-the-top, Mad-magazine-style lampooning with tons of tarantula splatter, gored and disgorged townsfolk, and crunching, squooshy sound effects. Like Tremors, the 1990 humongous-worms-gone-amok picture with which it shares its winking, updated approach to the Ike-era Invasion of the Supersize Fill-in-Your-Species-Here, Eight Legged Freaks is set in the remote corners of the American Southwest.
November 12, 2009 |
The disaster movie "2012" is based on the ancient Mayan prophesy that the world will end three years after a "Transformers" sequel makes $400 million. So the clock is ticking, and "2012" aims to show all Twitter followers of Harry Knowles just how freaking awesome the apocalypse will be - Los Angeles slides into the sea, Vegas into the desert, and Yellowstone simply explodes (something that crossed the mind of anybody who tried to sit through that Ken Burns documentary). The movie is directed by German doomsday-fetishist Roland Emmerich, who brings his usual mix of bombast, accidental comedy (the end of the world cures a girl of her bed-wetting)
June 12, 1998 |
If "Size Does Matter," as all those ads for the movie "Godzilla" have been telling us for months, then the big beast has been a HUGE disappointment. Neither the size of the crowds at the box office nor the size of sales figures for "Godzilla"-related merchandise has measured up to expectations. "Godzilla," made for $125 million with another $60 million thrown in for publicity, opened just before Memorial Day in a record number of theaters - but brought in only $74 million that week.
June 28, 2000 |
We all cherish George Washington as the father of our country, mostly because once a year, he's linked to really good deals on mattresses. As for more conventional hero worship, well, that's not really our style, and hasn't been for some time. The first thing we learn in American history class is that the story of George and the cherry tree is a fraud - the sort of mythology we've outgrown as a country, having graduated to more vital myths, such as "The X Files. " Still, it's sort of odd that Hollywood, our big myth factory, has rarely attempted to mount any kind of epic retelling of the American Revolution, even during its patriotic era. By my count, the entire output of the entertainment industry regarding the Revolutionary War amounts to about four movies and one Johnny Horton country song.