For months now, movie theater screens have been predicting it... the coming of the next "great" disaster movie. Helmed by veteran world destroyer Roland Emmerich, and touting a formidable cast (if you want to view a cast of wash ups led by John Cusack formidable) and mind blowing special effects, 2012 has the makings of box office success as it kicks off the holiday movie going season for 2009.
The premise is as easy as it gets... the world is coming to an end (or at least an end of how we know the world to be). Only this time it is not due to outer worldly invaders, environmental collapse, or an apocalyptic munitions exchange between warring factions. It just happens.
Basing itself on the very popular myth of the Mayan calendar, which is the belief that the world is going to enter into a new era for itself during the winter solstice of 2012 (12/21/12 to be exact), 2012 is a movie about the last days of Man as the Earth begins this cyclical change (which according to the film happens every 640,000 years or so). And by entering a cyclical change, we mean shedding off all these horrible humans marking her crust and starting fresh. Unable to counter the forces of nature coming, the governments of Man make preparations to preserve the species (or themselves, depending on how you want to look at things). The movie is about those efforts.
Almost a critic proof flick (being that big budget disaster flicks tend to do well in the box office), 2012 comes in promising a lot. But does it deliver??? Let's take a look...
- - You get to see the entire budget, as the movie is visually spectacular. Emmerich spared no detail as he depicted the complete and total destruction of the Earth. Cities crumbled by earthquakes, gutted by fires, bombarded by flaming volcanic debris, ripped apart by massive riots, and swallowed whole by massive hundred foot tsunamis... and that is just in the first hour of the film! The visually impressive disaster scenes, ironically enough, are what keep this flick from becoming a total disaster itself... but more on that in a moment.
- - Never mind the problems with the plot exposition or the character development. The star of this movie is the End of the World itself. Massive in scale, insanely fact passed, and visually devastating- Emmerich turns the End of Days into a fun thrill ride for the audience- complete with the long waits in line to experience it.
- - Woody Harrelson, who already has a command comedic performance under his belt this past summer as the Twinkie obsessed zombie killer Tallahassee in Zombieland, once again becomes a life support system for a film. As the somewhat insane radio conspiracy theorist Charlie Frost, Harrelson not only provides comic relief for the time he is on screen but serves as an excellent tool for the film's situation to get explained. He is actually more entertaining to watch that the destruction of the West Coast.
The Not so Good:
- - The movie is about an hour too long. With a running time of 158 minutes, 2012 is drawn out. It loses the audience for huge spans of time- mired in it's own mess- and struggles to get the back (usually due to them being in a deep state of REM sleep). The film only gathers any sort of momentum through one amazingly convenient turn of event after another (or whenever Woody Harrelson is on the radio), making it a daunting task to maintain the level of suspended disbelief nessessary to stay into the film.
- - Like most disaster films, there are a lot of stories going on here(which for whatever reason all end up becoming loosely intertwined) with a lot of players involved. Due to the large amount of characters (and all the time the film spends destroying the world), none of the them ever get to be more than just stereotypes; shallow one dimensional mock ups of humans going through the motions in this film. The issue with this is that by the middle of this movie, you really couldn't care less as to whether or not these people make it out of this mess alive.
- - And while speaking to the lack of character development, the script for 2012 is shockingly wanting. Piss poor dialogue, loosely bound together one dimensional characters, and long boring gaps run rampant in this movie- making the almost three hour affair seem like an eternity at times. But as poor as the script for this might have been, the acting is also a sticking point. The usually decent John Cusack does nothing to elevate this film, which heralds Amanda Peet (maybe the worst actress in history) as his co-star. (Also, not to be mean or anything but Amanda Peet looks like she did a forty yard dash into a wall 20 feet away). The supporting cast is weak as well, with Danny Glover sleepwalking through this as the President and Oliver Platt mailing it in as the less than compassionate Chief of Staff.
Anti-climactic, drawn out, and poorly acted (as well as scripted) - 2012 is a true disaster of a movie. The visual effects are awe inspiring, and yea there are a lot of them. But in order to get to them you have to sit through a whole lot of horseshit. That being said, if you go into it expecting dreck with good visuals (like we did), you end up having a decent enough time (though after a while the running time starts to be the biggest detractor). But if you go into it thinking that you are about to be amazed (like our significant others did), you end up walking out of this film bored and dejected.
2012 is a very generous two flusher. There really is more bad than good here in as much as it being a good film, but the visual effects alone kind of make it worth the price of admission. If you had intended on going to see this one, feel free to do so (maybe drink a Red Bull mid way through so you make it without falling asleep) as films of this type usually play better in the cinema with the larger than life screen and booming surround sound. But make sure you do it as a matinee (so as to not pay full fare) and do not be a big enough asshole to drag someone who might not be as into this as you are along for the ride (as they have better things to do for three hours, I promise you). But if you maybe are not into poorly acted, overly drawn out special effect bonanzas then maybe you might want to check out something else.