Release Date: November 13, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Roland Emmerich Actors: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson
oland Emmerich has pretty much cornered the market on big budget disaster films, and not just because he’s the only one making them anymore. Actually, he is the only one making them these days, but surprisingly there’s still a fair share of entertainment on display, looking past all the Emmerich clichés – mass destruction to the point of silliness, too many characters with coincidentally intersecting lives, extreme over-sentimentality, and an unrealistically noble President. As far as “stuff blowing up” is concerned, it’ll be hard to top the scale of devastation the world faces in “2012.”
In 2009, several geologists discover the validity of the ancient Mayan prediction of total world destruction from the aligning of the solar system in 2012. Once the fateful year arrives however, few are prepared for the utter annihilation they face. As the chaos begins, divorced author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) must protect his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and his two young children while scrambling to reach a closely guarded secret to salvation.
“The world as we know it will soon come to an end,” admits United States president Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover), to start off the standard end-of-the-world routine. As if it weren’t enough that only 400,000 people are slated to live through Armageddon, Curtis has to be dealing with a divorced wife and kids who are becoming attached to their new father figure (Thomas McCarthy). Additionally, Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt) has to rain on everyone’s parade, revealing that alerting the public isn’t part of the plan, and that only the rich people have any real chance of survival. He knows that disbelief is the most powerful combatant against panic. Unfortunately, Platt provides the only believable role – the necessary evil of reality that confirms the government is not concerned with the best interest of its people. Woody Harrelson plays Charlie Frost, a crazy man who has been predicting this calamity for years, serving to explain the situation to the audience. Apparently, it’s easier to comprehend if an insane character paints the picture.
Everything in “2012” is big. There are big crowds, big explosions, big words, and big speeches. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little overbearing considering the movie doesn’t advance in substance much beyond the expected “group of characters trying to survive the end of the world” premise. The predicaments pile up exactly as expected, yet the influx of new characters continually entering the fray detracts from the importance of the survivors viewers should be focused on. There are at least half a dozen people who receive substantial screen time that could have been cut entirely without lessening the impact of the surmounting tragedies (although before cutting characters, reducing the numerous product placement shots would have been a nice start). As always, human nature presents more of a threat than the Earth’s boiling core bursting through the crust, or tsunamis overtaking all dry land.
It would be unfair not to mention “2012’s” stunning special effects, which truly enhance the sense of adventure, peril, fear, and intense escapes. As anticipated, however, poignant family issues and relationships only become important when doom is imminent. Additionally, prayer is wasted upon nature’s wrath, dubious coincidences plague the laughably epic disasters, puns are always at hand, and self-preservation is strongest amongst politicians.
– The Massie Twins