Published June 11, 2004
Although originally from Germany, director Roland Emmerich has long made a point of being more American than the Americans. Here, at least, he is a different kind of American. Whereas Independence Day and Godzilla´s apparent message was: Increase military spending, otherwise we´ll be attacked by space aliens and large firebreathing dragons, and The Patriot´s more simple statement was: Kill the English; here, we get “stop global warming.” This, then, is perhaps the first environmentalist action film since Steven Seagal´s On Deadly Ground, where he would beat up evil oil men before giving them lectures on environmental safety. Now, if only someone would take that approach to the Bush administration…
The adversary here, though, isn´t the bad guys. True, there is a vice president (who looks like Dick Cheney on a diet) that doesn´t seem to care about global warming, but even he repents before the end rather than being pickaxed by Dennis Quaid. And the good guys aren’t bullet-and-one-liner spewing muscle men. In fact, they seem verging on the pinko and the liberal. There are divorcées, intellectuals and even atheists (who still appreciate the cultural value of God) who prevail by their wits rather than by gunning down bad guys. Although the major message of the film is the environmental one, others creep in. Drop the debt. Be nice to the third world, we might need them someday. Snacks and sweets are not very nutritious. And, although it may be okay to burn books to keep alive, there are other uses for books. They even help you cure diseases. Is all this something we want our children to hear?
So even if characterisation is poor and the plot mostly nonsensical, it´s a relief to finally be able to enjoy a major Hollywood blockbuster guilt free, without feeling that you´re supporting American militarism. And any film that portrays the weather as the enemy is bound to strike a chord with people living in Iceland.