Independence Day and 2012
Many of Emmerich’s movies involve a group of people who know the disaster event is going to happen but are ignored (even though they are experts in their field whom one would think most people would believe), those in power who try to stifle knowledge of the disaster event and the every man, whose normal life is tragically altered by the event. These groups of people come with every cliché in the book, feeling literally copied and pasted from one script to another. Where Independence Day has Jewish scientist stereotypes, 2012 has Indian scientist stereotypes. Where Independence Day uses Will Smith as the cool soldier version of the everyman, 2012 has John Cusack to be the absentee, novelist father. On the surface these characters may seem different, but they serve identical purposes to the plot.
What is interesting, however, is how Independence Day manages to be enjoyable despite its corniness, while 2012 is, at times, nearly insufferable. Perhaps it is because Independence Day has a cast of actors that are far more charismatic, using Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum to make the film entertaining. Or perhaps it is because 2012 seems to take itself far more seriously, trying to inject the constant use of tropes that plague Emmerich’s movies with drama rather than with campy fun. Both movies, however, are far too long for what they are trying to be. There is no need for a disaster movie to be two-an-a-half grueling hours long, and any semblance of enjoyment that I got out of either film dissipated quickly after about ninety minutes.
And there honestly not much else I can say about these films. They are the most generic kind of movies out there; the type of films that play on Cinemax at 3:00 AM. And I’m sure at 3:00 AM, when you are barely conscious or crazy drunk, these movies are either enthralling or entertaining enough to hold at least some interest. But I found little joy out of either of them, feeling as though it were a chore to make it all the way to the end. The characters are one-note, the dialogue cliché, the plot exceedingly basic and the special effects flashy in a way that seems to hope you’ll be distracted from the rest of the movie. I found nothing compelling here, and highly doubt I will ever be compelled by his other, similar disaster movies.
Independence Day Grade: D+
2012 Grade: D-