Sunday, November 15, 2009

2012 (2009)

2012 is not a good movie. If you came looking for a serious, hard-line review of Roland Emmerich's new disaster film, that was it, so stop reading now. Now that all the people who hate fun are gone, we can actually talk about one of the most outrageous movies to come out of Hollywood in the last few years.

The story of 2012 should sound familiar. A disaster of epic proportions occurs on earth and only a lucky few people will survive. This time John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson are our protagonists as earth descends into the greatest disaster imaginable. The story is based on both the Mayan prophecy that the world will end in the year 2012 and the odd-ball scientific theories that support this claim. Emmerich takes this to it's logical conclusion and the world proceeds to crumble beneath the feet of the human race.

As an avid viewer of the History Channel's marvelous shows, Megadisasters and Life After People, the theories about 2012 and the other disasters that occur in the movie tickle me pink. The disaster buff in me loved how complete the disaster felt and the fact that Emmerich took the time to at least take a cursory glance into the world of disaster theory when making the movie. As silly as the Neutrino and the Tectonic Shift theories are, there are some people who believe they will happen and it was really fun to watch see what that would look like. I also really enjoy the nod to the Yellowstone super-volcano. This said, even in the glory of world wide destruction, there were some glaring scientific problems that I couldn't overlook. The most prominent being the ignoring of the volcanic aftermath that the eruption of every volcano in the world would cause. Geological record shows that the eruption of just one super-volcano, like Yellowstone, would be enough to seriously alter the climate of the earth for many years. Every volcano on earth erupting at the same time would create such a climate change that it would be almost impossible for life to continue on earth.

2012 is an outrageous trip. John Cusack becomes an action hero, just like every average-Joe protagonist in disaster movies, and the movie is weighed down by poor acting, writing and pacing. For every 10 minutes of wondrous destruction, there is 30 minutes of awkward plot. While it's certainly a step up, in the destruction category, from The Day After Tomorrow, it still fails at maintaining the momentum for it's entire length. Emmerich's films have a tendency to hook you hard with really fantastic destruction scenes at the beginning and then fall apart as he tries to reel you in with character drama. We've seen this exact same disaster movie so many times, that I ache for a story that simply ignores the characters or shows me a character arc that I haven't seen before.

It's really important that you leave your brain at the door for 2012. It's not a movie that will satisfy the intellectual part of your brain. It's a unbelievably silly movie that should leave fans of destruction smiling. The destruction of L.A. alone is worth the ticket price and is, probably, the greatest single scene of destruction ever filmed.


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