Director Roland Emmerich’s movies are usually hit or miss, usually in trying to explain just what is going on to try and suspend your disbelief. It also looks like he’s looking to become King of the Disaster Movie. His other film which froze everything north of the equator, The Day After Tomorrow, was just a warm up…no pun intended…for this one.
But when you forget that there’s supposed to be a story behind all of the snazzy CG that he uses to wreck his worlds with, it’s almost as fun as watching Sean Connery and Natalie Wood nearly drown in chocolate milk in 1979’s, Meteor.
2012 is about the predicted end of the world based on the ancient Mayan calendar which, according to estimates, says that it will come about on December 21st, 2012. Whether or not you put any stock into the debates swirling around it doesn’t matter since the film takes the worst case scenario to deliver some memorable, if not highly improbable, action sequences that are part cartoon, part high octane melodrama.
There’s some kind of a story here focusing on the days leading up to the end as the world is knocked off of its axis by changes in the sun. Danny Glover, as the President. is involved in a secret conspiracy with other heads of state to keep this disaster secret years before it happens in order to avoid the chaos that it would cause.
John Cusack only wants to save his estranged family when it finally comes down to the wire and the gifted Chiwetel Ejiofor plays an exasperated scientist who had helped to discover the tragedy and tries to do good in working against his boss’ (Oliver Platt) cold hearted practicality. All of this doesn’t matter as much when you see the entire West Coast slide into the ocean or a humongous tsunami swallow up India. Ooh, pretty!
The disasters that Emmerich inflicts on the impressive cast are the real stars with the thin stories behind the characters mere excuses to show off just what would happen when entire cities are buried under ash. Even if you focus on the story threads jumping around the film, having the stomach to believe its string of incredible coincidences is a pre-requisite that should be printed on your ticket.
It may play to the theory that one of the characters puts forward of how the odds can often shape the most incredible moments in history, but in this film, its hard not to think of it as a convenient escape clause for the story, or the holes that it creates such as how the death of a particular character (and an important one) is promptly forgotten about as if he were never written into the script in the first place. It didn’t matter to me because I was too busy watching Mount Everest used as a giant reef to care which may have been the entire point in the first place.
By the time the credits rolled, I felt that I had just seen Emmerich raise the bar on throwing human civilization into the molten blender of a malfunctioning planet. If you’re in the mood to see nearly every natural disaster known to man invited to one party, 2012 is where it is at.
Centropolis Entertainment / Roland Emmerich