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From Roland Emmerich, director of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and INDEPENDENCE DAY, comes the ultimate action-adventure film, exploding with groundbreaking special effects. As the world faces a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, cities collapse and continents crumble. 2012 brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors. Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover.
Now this is how you destroy the world. Roland Emmerich's 2012 pounces on a Nostradamus-style loophole in the Mayan calendar and rams the apocalypse through it, gleefully conjuring up an enormous amount of Saturday-matinee fun in the process. A scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) detects shifting continental plates and sun flares and realizes that this foretells the imminent destruction of the planet. Just as the molten lava is about to hit the fan, a novelist (John Cusack) takes his kids on a trip to Yellowstone; later he'll hook up with his ex (Amanda Peet) and her new boyfriend (Tom McCarthy) in a global journey toward safety. If there is any safety. The suitably hair-raising plot lines are punctuated--frequently, people, frequently--by visions of mayhem around the globe: the Vatican falls over, the White House is clobbered (Emmerich's Independence Day was not enough on that score), and the California coastline dives into the Pacific Ocean. Unlike other action directors we could name, Emmerich actually understands how to let you see and drink in these vast special-effects vistas--and they are incredible. He also honors the old Irwin Allen disaster-movie tradition by actually shelling out for good actors. Cusack and Ejiofor are convincing even in the cheesiest material; toss in Danny Glover (the U.S. president), Woody Harrelson (a nut-bar conspiracy-theorizing radio host), Thandie Newton, and Oliver Platt, and you've got a very watchable batch of people. Emmerich hasn't developed an ear for dialogue, even at this stage in his career, and the final act goes on a bit too long. This is a very silly movie, but if you've got a weakness for B-movie energy and hairbreadth escapes, 2012 delivers quite a bit of both. --Robert Horton
Stills from 2012 (Click for larger image)
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Commentary with Writer/Director Roland Emmerich and Co-Writer Harald Kloser
Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic
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good, but were too overdone, to the point of diluting excitement and awe. They ramped up into
what I call "finale mode" much too quickly. By the time Washington DC or Paris, etc., fell to annihilation,
it seemed fairly blase. I mean, once you've seen a major metropolis engulfed in balls of fire, or sloughing off
into the ocean, you've seen them all. That's the frame of mind I fell into too early in the film. And the
dangers the protagonists encountered were WAY too close, way too over-the-top and ridiculous to be anything
but cartoonish. It so completely put a distance to any sort of reality, that tension and suspense suffered as a result.
I won't go into all the defects of writing and predictability, which other reviewers have already pointed out.
I am just disappointed that a film with this budget and tech talent could not do more with it. It was merely
your basic, any-scale disaster story with completely unoriginal characters and dialog. All the standard
"tug at the heart" scenes were included; all the bland and expected "moments of humor"; everything we've
seen a hundred times before, and even if we haven't, it still felt like it. There should have been a greater sense
of the momentous, a different atmosphere conveying the horror, the awe of such unprecedented events;
but it somehow only conveyed a localized sense of urgency occasioned by any immediate danger.
There are a few things I'll mention, just to illustrate. Several major areas of earth have been decimated;
no doubt billions are already dead. And heads of state are reluctant to "go public", for fear of creating
panic and anarchy? Sorry, guys, but I think you're out of the loop by this point. And so many, many
minor points of near-impossibility that it becomes a major mass in the way of credulity: people still
able to opportunely communicate on cell phones; everybody managing to get to China in what seems
a couple of hours; one of the main characters calls his estranged son in the midst of this global chaos,
and the ringing phone wakes him & his family from a sound and apparently blissfully unaware sleep.
I mean, only someone on a Mars colony could have been ignorant of what was going on in the world
by that point. The one line in the whole film which was gratifying to me was when one of the lead
scientists confronts a wealthy industrialist as they were boarding the "ark", and lectures him on the
morality of "buying" his way onto the ark, while millions of poorer folk were to be left to die. And the
industrialist says "You can give your own tickets to them if you want, I don't care," and continues to board,
leaving the moralist looking befuddled, then meekly following industrialist onto the ship. It showed the
hypocrisy which is rampant in the world today, and I'm surprised it was included in any film made in
the past decade. I guess they just figured few people would notice it.
I will give it 3 stars, for I was able to watch the whole thing, the acting was completely adequate, and
the technical aspects were professionally done. It was just the triteness of the story, the unoriginal
character types, the overwhelming feeling I'd seen all this before even though the scale of the setting
was so much larger--just the sameness and lack of anything substantially new--kept me from rating
The rest of the moralizing, sentimental, politicizing drivel was painful to witness, too. Even more than the unbelievably over-the-top last-minute escapes, the inappropriately light humor, etc.
And yes, it was racist as others have pointed out, as well as anti-religious. Or at least, *selectively* anti-religious. They even killed off the damn Tibetan Buddhists, and as far as I'm aware, you couldn't ask for a more (honestly) peaceful religion than theirs. To put it mildly, what they left humankind to survive with does not inspire confidence as far as peace goes, much less progress.
Just a side note: apocalypse films are magnets for the amateur. Don't really understand why viewers still expect class acting in them, but then again, maybe someday someone will produce an apocalypse flick that can be classified as real cinema. Maybe they still have hope. 2012 certainly isn't one.