"2012" Movie Review
Like its reported over bloated budget of $260 million, everything about “2012” is huge and expansive. From the film’s length (158 minutes!) to the special effects, and all the way to its believability factor, “2012” is a film of massive proportions.
Different kinds of epic proportions awaits us in the year 2012. According to the film, the apocalypse is near. The Mayan calendar is set to reach the end of its 13th cycle on December 21, 2012 – and nothing follows that date. “2012” tells the story of what’s to come.
At the center of death and destruction is Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a failed author with a failed marriage. He stumbles upon the news that the world as we know it is coming to an end. So the poor sap becomes a hero in the eyes of his kids, his ex-wife Kate (Amanda Pete) and her current husband, Gordon (Thomas McCarthy).
“2012’s” narrative is told from two points of view: those who know about the cataclysmic events that await the earth and those who remain in the dark. Woody Harrelson steals the show as a hippie prophet named Charlie Frost who tells Jackson about the impending gloom and doom.
Director Roland Emmerich, the current father of disaster movies, knows the formula by now. Credible actors playing good and evil characters facing unbelievable situations equals apocalypse film at its finest. Emmerich used this time-tested formula in “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” heck, even “Godzilla,” and now, the director has used it again in “2012.”
When the film works, it really works! The first half of the film is a joyful orgasm of exploding cities! Oh look, Santa Monica falling into the ocean! Goodbye Yellowstone! Arrivederci Roma! But after a few of these eye-popping monstrosities, the novelty wears thin.
Emmerich co-wrote the campy script with Harald Kloser who previously worked with the director in “10,000 B.C.” There are many unintentionally funny scenes but there also some good moments with genuine emotion.
One of my favorite scenes involves actor Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays the president’s chief science advisor. He’s warning his cruise-ship singer father, played by Blu Mankuma, about the imminent disaster. These two great actors are not even shown in a scene together – they’re talking on the phone – but their performances resonate emotionally.
Remember the scene in “Independence Day” where Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore addresses the country about the looming alien invasion? There’s a similar scene in “2012” featuring Danny Glover as President Thomas Wilson. But Glover as the commander-in-chief doesn’t have the same gravitas as Pullman. His character is reduced to a caricature.
I’m torn with this film. On the one hand, I love disaster flicks and all its merry mayhem. I was like a kid in a candy store taking in all the apocalyptic images the movie could muster. But I overdosed quickly! By the final reel, I found myself looking at my watch, hoping for “2012” to end. I even caught myself rolling my eyes at the preposterous conclusion.
I did like the image that Emmerich used in the end. For one brief second, I caught a glimpse of what “2012” was supposed to be. But the majority of its budget was used on special effects and not to perfect the storyline.
It’s a shame because I was ready to embrace the film and all its clichés, formulas, and plot holes. I was even willing to throw out the film critic handbook because there are many exciting and entertaining moments.
Alas, “2012” is reduced to being wonderfully messy. But there’s salvation! This coming Thanksgiving, another apocalyptic film is coming to theaters. It’s called “The Road” starring Viggo Mortensen based on the Pulitzer-prized winning novel by Cormac McCarthy (“No Country for Old Men”).
Enjoy being a witness to seeing the world end in “2012,” and then pay attention to how the remaining survivors live in The Road,” a much better and deeper disaster movie.
“2012” gets 2 The End is Near kisses
Country: United States
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