Dec 21, 2012

[Movies] 2012 (2009)

It's been a fairly busy holiday week and I haven't had a chance to watch the next James Bond movie as part of my on-going review series. So instead I dug through the movies that I had already seen previously and realized that I had never posted a review of the Roland Emmerich disaster movie 2012.

Ironic right? I swear, I totally didn't plan this! It's not my fault that the supposed day of the apocalypse based on some Mayan calendar misinterpretation is supposed to be today!

But back on point, I felt this was definitely one of Emmerich's more ridiculous movies, not that he's known for truly thought-provoking content when you think about it. I mean seriously, even the phrase "Roland Emmerich disaster movie" seems redundant since such special effects spam movies are his bread and butter in the industry. And no matter how bad the stories are or how ridiculous some of the plot twists end up being, they still rake in millions and millions of dollars in revenue.

Now that's what's really crazy.

Synopsis: 2012 is a 2009-released science fiction disaster movie (and please stress the fiction part and not the science part) written and directed by Roland Emmerich together with co-screenwriter Harald Kloser. It did get nominated for various scecial effects awards in lesser known awarding circles and the odd acting nod as well.

Now please suspend all understanding of science as I proceed.

In 2009, geologist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) visits Dr. Satnam Tsurutani, an astrophysicist based in India. They determine that somehow the neutrinos from a massive solar flare are causing the core temperature of the Earth to rise dramatically. Adrian relays this report to his superiors until the Chief of Staff (Oliver Platt) takes it up with the President of the United States (Danny Glover). Once the findings are verified, President Wilson together with the rest of the leaders of the world start working on a survival strategy. Their plan is to secretly build massive arks and seed them with a pre-selected mix of humanity along with preserving the world's technology and culture.

So we now come to the end of times in 2012 and finally meet our protagonist - science fiction writer and limousine driver Jackson Curtis (John Cusack). He lives apart from his ex-wife  Kate (Amanda Peet) and their two children Noah (Liam James) and Lilly (Morgan Lily). When he does finally get some time with the kids, he takes them camping and somehow stumbles on a military operation of sorts. This leads to a chance encounter with conspiracy theorist Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson), who believes that a polar shift is set to happen in line with some Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar prediction. In time he is proven right as a series of massive earthquakes start to occur all over the planet and thus we follow Jackson in his efforts to stay alive and save his family.

Now for movies like this, the core premise behind the disaster typically gets the least amount of thought in terms of its creation. After all, we watch these movie to see how Emmerich and his peers will destroy the world as creatively as possible, something we've been doing ever since he first released Independence Day. But seriously, neutrinos? Of all things really, I'm not sure why he picked this explanation for how the sun is going to microwave the planet and yet completely ignore all the things on the surface like, oh I don't know, humanity?

Shortpacked got it right when the only truly dangerous neutrinos are these ones.

So when we get back the premise of the movie, then we get to the more fun stuff. And Emmerich really came up with some crazy sequences to depict - most of which are glimpsed in the movie's initial trailer. Thus we have the exciting escape in a small airplane as the bulk of the West Coast sinks into he ocean just as they take off. Or we have the madness of trying to secure a larger plane with even more chaos going on. And figuring out how to get an aircraft carrier to be carried by a wave and collide with buildings - that takes balls! And what about those massive arks just trying to get out of their secret berths? The list goes on and on.

As always, there is that notion that the world's governments would act in secret instead of trying to gain the support of their citizens in terms of preparing for the end of days. It's the typical trope that assumes our leaders would prefer to think of solutions on their own and not risk a general panic in the population and such. And we get the US playing a somehow central role - or at least getting the most screen time for Danny Glover. But man, Danny Glover is so not POTUS material, even for a movie like this. And more often than not he just seems rather bewildered at what's going on.

I think I feel most bad for Chiwetel Ejiofor. He's quite the skilled actor and clearly a fish out of water given this movie's horrible plot and yet he struggles on to put on a good performance despite everything else going on. Science fiction movies don't have to be silly! Just look at what this man did for Serenity. Now that was another sterling performance that is worth praising - right up there with his memorable performance as a drag queen in Kinky Boots.

And John Cusack? Well, to be fair what his character mainly has to do is a heck of a lot of running. That's about it, so it's not like this was a major acting challenge. And so he does a lot of running left and right - running alone or sometimes with members of his family. So yay for him. And Woody Harrelson gets to play a crazy man - AGAIN.

2012 is one of the more ridiculous disaster movies around and I can't imagine why it managed to get a strong a following as it did. But I guess if you're into this stuff, then you're into it. As for this geek, I can only let this movie go with 1 wave of neutrinos cooking the planet from the inside out of a possible 5.

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  1. We are survivor, dude. 2013 is coming all I can say is merry xmas and a happy new year to you!

  2. Here's to a great 2013 for all of us!