2012 a Disastrous Year
You're telling me that the North Pole is now some where in Wisconsin? - Carl Anheuser
There was a time when a disaster movie would be about a sinking ship, a doomed plane or a burning building but in recent years it appears that Hollywood is not content just to have this scale of drama, they want bigger, they want epic, they want world destruction. Which brings me to "2012" a disaster movie on a global scale which is directed by Roland Emmerich who had previously attempted to destroy the world with "The Day After Tomorrow". "2012" is big, it is action packed and so often the case tries to deliver some moral message about the end of the world is nigh, but it sadly isn't that impressive because it's a movie all about special effects and little else.
Geologist Dr. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor - American Gangster) discovers that due to the sun's activity the centre of the earth is warming up and will cause a cataclysmic event causing the earths crust to collapse. Having warned the US president of the impending doom the heads of state from around the world start devising a plan to save mankind when judgement day arrives. Meanwhile author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack - The Contract) whilst taking his children on a weekend break discovers through a conspiracist that the world really is about to end and sets about saving his family as the roads and buildings collapse around them.
As is normal with any disaster movie "2012" follows a formula, one which is too reminiscent of "The Day After Tomorrow" as we have a Government Geologist discovering the impending doom on a trip to India then having to tackle the politicians about plans to save mankind. Plus we get a series of characters and you know right away that the handful of people we meet during the opening scenes will more than likely have to battle their way through one disaster after another in order to survive, with the occasional one biting the dust. It's all frighteningly obvious and you can pretty much guess which characters will survive and which will bite the dust. Let's be honest "2012" is formula driven from start to finish as it increases the amount of danger, near misses and so on till it reaches its climax of action.
But then "2012" tries to deliver some sort of warning about the Earth and that due to the solar flares the earths core is melting and so the planet will sort of collapse, shift about and basically become like one massive mix of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and Tsunamis. Frankly the attempts are pointless because they have no real meaning; they don't warn us but provide the idea for what is simply a pure special effects movie. As for the tie in to the Mayan calendar and that 2012 being the proposed date for impending doom, well it's barely mentioned during the movie although a great way to gain publicity for the movie.
Besides the supposed moral message you get the usual selection of sub plots, the estranged father child relationship, the proud parent and child and so on giving more layers of unoriginality to "2012". Although to give it credit where it's due the corrupt politicians selling places to the highest bidders for space on the rescue vessels and that they keep the proposed end of the world a secret, killing those who threaten things adds a little extra to a movie which otherwise would have been completely void of complexity.
But the thing is that "2012" is an action disaster movie, one which delivers scene after scene of over the top CGI enhanced action. Now this side of the movie is visually impressive and some of the imaginative situations where are plucky survivors battle their way through such as collapsing buildings, roads and falling trains will please those who want excitement through perceived extreme danger. But personally whilst visually impressive it's so outrageously over the top that I found myself laughing when the danger of the scenes should be delivering tension. It's strange because the smaller non effects laden scenes actually delivered more tension than those big budget, big effects scenes.
All this leaves are the performances and I can't say I was that excited about those either. John Cusack goes through the motions as the estranged father who turns hero as he tries to get his family to safety and Chiwetel Ejiofor does the same as the Geologist who finds himself battling a self obsessed politician played by Oliver Platt as dooms day gets closer and closer. "2012" is a case of big names playing stereotypical roles so as well as Cusack, Ejiofor and Platt we also get Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet and also Thomas McCarthy. The actual best performance comes from Woody Harrelson as the conspiracy whack job Charlie who warns Jackson about the impending doom, at least he brought some intentional laughs to the proceedings.
What this all boils down to is that "2012" does deliver what it sets out to do and that is a disaster movie crammed full of bigger and bigger CGI enhanced action scenees which will please those who just want to be wowed by computer trickery. But for me I wasn't that impressed because other than all the over the top action and CGI effects the storyline is predictable and takes a back seat as do the performances. It's simply a stereotypical modern disaster movie made for those who want to be entertained visually.
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