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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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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.
But then Emmerich's knack for sugar-coating and superficial 'fixes' kicked in, and "2012" stumbled back from the abyss, into Disney Channel 'cuteness'...the 'arks' are a variation 'lifted' from the fleet of spacecraft from "When Worlds Collide", but with a design flaw so obvious that even a gerbil could figure it out; enough ash and radiation is pumped into the atmosphere that a generation-long nuclear winter would be a 'given', yet our surviving heroes are partying outside, in what, a year??? And Africa survives, nearly intact???? You can imagine how thrilled the Africans are going to be to see seven arks filled with European, Asian, and American politicians and bureaucrats pulling up, ready to take over!
So, ultimately, "2012" is a disappointment...but I consider it a far more enjoyable film than "Independence Day", and you may, as I did, get caught up in the grandeur of the destruction, for at least a while. John Cusack and Woody Harrelson are both quite funny, and if I would have to go, I think Harrelson's choice of demise isn't a bad finale for a sixties' rocker!