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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > 2012

MOVIE REVIEWS

2012 (2009)

Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Liam James, Morgan Lily, Tom McCarthy, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson, Zlatko Buric, Beatrice Rosen, Alexandrew Haussmann, Philippe Haussmann, Johann Urb, John Billingsley, Chin Han, Osric Chau, Chang Tseng, Lisa Lu, Blu Mankuma, George Segal, Stephen McHattie, Patrick Bauchau and Jimi Mistry.
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Written by Harald Kloser and Roland Emmerich.

Directed by Roland Emmerich.

Distributed by Sony Pictures.  158 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

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2012 

Every once in a while a movie comes along that is so off-the-rails ridiculous that you hit the point you have to make a decision – are you going to give in to the absurdity and just go along for the ride? 

The storyline of 2012 is incredibly unrealistic and when you get down to it, completely bat-shit strange.  Yet, somehow, if you give in to its pulpy mayhem, it’s actually kind of dumb, primal fun. 

Director Roland Emmerich has made a living imagining ways to destroy the Earth – previous films include Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow.  And, credit where credit is due – the guy is getting better at it.  This is his most enjoyable film so far – by a good distance.  (Of course, a big part of that is the fact that the earlier films just were not at all good.)

I still can’t say that 2012 exactly a good film, either, however for the first time an Emmerich film pretty much holds together in it's dumb logic until the somewhat overwrought ending.  True, the destruction is so over-the-top throughout the film that you almost hit overload, but it also massages that weird human impulse for blowing stuff up. 

2012 is sort of like twenty disaster films all rolled up in one.  You have rampant fires, earthquakes, tidal waves, capsized ships, tsunamis, volcanoes erupting, dramatic climate change and entire cities sinking into the sea.

Interestingly, there has been a subtle shift in Emmerich’s fire-and-brimstone wholesale destruction over the years (as if anything about Emmerich’s body of work could ever be called subtle.).  In Independence Day and Godzilla, other beings – specifically rampaging aliens or nuclear monsters – visited the destruction upon the Earth.  In The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, we did it all to ourselves. 

Emmerich has slightly toned down the strident global-warming alarms of The Day After Tomorrow here.  While I am a strong believer in these dangers, I remember while watching that earlier film when it first came out thinking that even I had to admit they were way overselling their point.  At least until about six months later when New Orleans was nearly wiped out by just the kind of conditions that the film was warning against. 

The ecological warning part of the new film is somewhat downplayed here.  The most cogent and important information on the situation is pretty much made in a jokey animated sequence supposedly created by a somewhat unstable end-of-the-world conspiracy theorist played by Woody Harrelson. 

Oh sure, there is some slight pretense of a premise to all the carnage – apparently the ancient Mayans had predicted that the world would end in 2012 (and strangely, it has nothing at all to do with Sarah Palin running for President).  The basics of the problem are briefly explained – the Earth’s core reaches a fiery boil, destroying the Earth’s crust and leaving the surface shifting rapidly. 

However, the real reason that 2012 exists is not to get people to go green.  It is to give Emmerich the opportunity to lay waste to such international shrines as the Vegas Strip, the Washington Monument, Mount Everest, Rios Christ the Redeemer Statue, Yellowstone Park, St. Peters Square in the Vatican and the Randy’s Donuts sign.  (For some reason, in Emmerichs films the damage always seems to focus on national monuments and then eventually gets around to everything else.)

Running around amongst the chaos are such talented-but-slightly-down-on-their-luck actors as John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, George Segal and Danny Glover.  All do fine with what they are given, but this is not an actor’s movie, so having this kind of talent is probably superfluous.  

2012 exists merely to lay glorious waste to our world.  Ridiculous as it gets – and some of the scenes of buildings and trains tumbling over planes in midair are just as absurd as they are strangely cool – as mindless popcorn movies go, 2012 hits the spot.  If put your brain on hold, you may just enjoy it, although you will probably be ashamed of yourself later.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 10, 2009.

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Copyright ©2009   PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 10, 2009.

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