2012 Review

(1.5 STARS)

“2012” is an epic disaster, both in subject and quality. This film throws everything at you but the kitchen sink: collapsing buildings, volcanic national parks, and entire continents underwater. Almost all of it falls flat. The plot is ridiculous. The special effects are pretty cheesy. And the dialogue is cringe-inducing. Yet, there’s still something “so bad it’s almost good” about this film. Did I have a good time? Kind of. Would I consider this quality cinema? Hell no.

A detailed plot analysis is somewhat futile. It’s the end of the world. Shit blows up. Ordinary man saves the day. You’ve seen it all before. Every character is a one-dimensional cliche. There’s our hero, Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a struggling writer, shadowing as a chauffeur for a Russian billionaire, who’s divorced and a distant father. There’s the noble President (Danny Glover), the government humanitarian (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the conniving bureaucrat (Oliver Platt), the token kids, the blonde bimbo, etc. There’s also a dog who luckily can walk a tightrope and hear his master’s whistle above the sound of thousands of voices pleading for their lives.

The method of Earth’s destruction this time around has something to do with the the displacement of the Earth’s crust due to excess heat from the sun. Plate alignment is all off, and volcanoes are sprouting up everywhere. Pretty soon, Earth is underwater, and the only place of refuge is in Tibet where the world’s governments have been secretly building arcs in preparation for this apocalypse. Of course, none of it makes any sense. But you know that going in, so it’s somewhat forgivable.

What’s not forgivable is the shoddiness and repetitiveness of the special effects. With a reported budget of $250 million, I think director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) could have done a lot more (in terms of quality, not quantity) with the film. And why in the world would he choose Los Angeles as the main city to be destroyed? There’s not a recognizable monument around, and the main appeal of films like these aren’t the characters or the plot but seeing shit we know fall apart. At least he redeems himself a little bit with the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil and the Washington Monument.

The acting is what you’d expect. I’m surprised by the big names that signed on to do such a silly film. John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejifor, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, and Oliver Platt all run around and play their stock characters as best they can. But really, none of them does anything unique or unexpected.

The film goes on for way too long (primarily, I think, because there are just far too many secondary character whom we don’t remotely care about), but I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were a few enjoyments to be had. I don’t think anyone involved in this film, nor anyone who watches it, expects a high-quality product. So there’s a certain tongue-in-cheek humor to it all, as if they are telling us “Yeah, we know. This film is shit. We need a paycheck. Just shut up and enjoy it.” In the end, though, it’s too repetitive, too generic, too familiar to really be enjoyed.

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