Release Date: November 13, 2009
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson
Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. “2012” is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.
Okay men, get ready, this is the one you’ve been waiting for, a big blockbuster about the end of the world with special effects you’ve been waiting around to see for a long time. Nothing comes as big as this.
2012 is as natural as saying ID4. Director Roland Emmerich helmed ID4 in 1996 which is otherwise known as Independence Day, a high concept blockbuster like 2012. So, you’d expect something of the same.
His latest is an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it natural disaster, race for survival, man verses nature movie that’s just that and nothing else, quite literally, and that takes itself seriously even when it’s not.
The end-of-the-world is outlandish freak-of-nature occurrences, starting when widening cracks down California’s streets causes alarm and Indian scientists discover a major shift in the earth’s solar plexus about to implode.
Man has to use his resourcefulness to escape nature’s threats to survival – through natural instinct – and goes further than Poseidon (2005) and its skimpy wave. With this natural disaster the event is inevitability going to wipe out existence and that’s mentioned early on. While that weakens the story, there are still two threads worth a cent.
The first is a mystery under-the-covers involving the culturally suave Louvre museum, a stock stereotypical Russian, the U.S. Government and its black president, played by Danny Glover, who’s not all he and his staff should be, and China is working in secret, asking can we work together in a new world when there was so much dissension and distrust between these players?
The second thread is preparing for the future: a cool young black scientist is the first person to get the U.S. government running for cover – particularly its own self-preservation.
The ensuing holocaust, with open craters, chasms and smoky eruptions, is conspicuously pastel rather than seamlessly joined with the rest of the look of the film, and it’s unexciting.
If you’re after political and environmental concerns the film raises, then you’re in for a treat. They are obviously everywhere and it’s telling the government and world to use their gumption and make haste in saving themselves.
There are two very good performances, though.
Oliver Platt does a pretentious job of playing up. It’s a great job and he reaches the appropriate tone. John Cusack’s everyday heroic guy protagonist gets to fly through apocalypse and the expression on his face tells me he’s right there in the story, while his family, which you’ll see is pretty familiar these days at the movies, is in dire straits.
It asks, can we now work together in a new world when there was so much dissension and distrust? Take a ride on an ark, a symbol of salvation? Or is the world headed for endgame? In 2012, Tibetan Buddhists and their faith look better for ware. But we don’t care if it’s not got that something called, “hook-em-in”.
It exists solely in the notion of coming together to save the world through our own natural instinct to survive, without vigor, narrative drive or conviction in seriously executing the end-of-the-world premise. Otherwise, there is no point to living.
[First published at entertainmentnutz.com/movies, in 2009]