Thursday, December 10, 2009


Opting for the high-science of neutrinos superheating the core of the earth as opposed to an asteroid-of-the-week scenario; Roland Emmerich pours in his not to inconsiderable special effects direction talent into another disaster movie and we get 2012.

The Mayans apparently predicted this apocalyptical world-ending event thousands of years ago and naturally no one listened to them so we must pay the ultimate price – with our very existence.

Typically for Emmerich just as in Godzilla or The Day After Tomorrow and pretty much any movie he's done; we are first treated to a graphically intense explanation of what is happening through one or more intelligent science-guy characters explaining it to someone less knowledgeable cue Chiwetel Children Of Men Ejiofor as Adrian Helmsley a geology professor who in 2009 has the high priority task to bring news of the impending disaster to President Wilson [Danny Glover]'s Chief Of Staff Carl Anheuser [Oliver Platt]. From there a plan is born to save humanity by 2012, or so we assume…

What works in this movie is a genuine sense of desperation delivered through the always wonderful John Cusack who somehow has never regained the “career high” he had with Con Air which is disappointing considering his wealth of talent in movies like Grosse Point Blank. Cusack’s character is an extraordinary departure for Emmerich in so far as he’s just an ordinary Joe with no scientific or military background to aid the plot, who will do anything to save his family when disaster does strike in the year 2012. Cusack plays Jackson Curtis a down-on-his-luck writer of - coincidentally - a science fiction novel which explores the psychological impact the end of the world has on a group of astronauts now stranded in orbit after witnessing a similar disaster. Sadly his perspective on this as an analogy to what is happening during the movie isn’t explored whatsoever, save a chance encounter with Adrian who mentions he actually read the book – but other than that, Jackson may have just as well written a cookery book. As the novel sold only 500 copies Jackson is now a divorced limo driver who takes his kids to Yosemite National Park, site of a long dormant volcano – that is until today!

On his travels, Jackson encounters one of the more endearing characters Charlie Frost. Woody Harrelson expertly plays Charlie, a seemingly insane recluse who broadcasts “the end is nigh” and “government conspiracy” ramblings over makeshift pirate radio equipment. Despite being an obvious throwback to Randy Quaid's ID4 character Russell Casse, Harellson works here providing considerable comic relief in to what is certainly a most depressing movie at the end of the day.

It's painfully obvious the level of input that Emmerichs' former producer Dean Devlin had in their collaborative movies, StarGate, Independence Day, The Patriot even Godzilla! But since Devlin and he parted ways professionally, the quality of Emmerich's movies have been halved. This is evident from 10,000 B.C. and The Day After Tomorrow. Sadly 2012 is no different and fails to make any semblance of impact considering it’s potential as a new take on the end of the world scenario. While the special effects are top notch [CGI a bit hokey in places though] generally it’s let down by a convoluted implausible scenario, insulting characterisation and an exploration of Emmerich’s spiteful personal vendettas, such as those he has against the Queen Of England [by portraying her as a coward] and The Catholic Church [by showing us what happened The Pope]. I can't really say all the ridiculous plot points that made me laugh in places where it wasn't intentional or just plain annoyed me - but if you thought Dennis Quaid's little trek from Washington D.C. to NYC in the middle of the new ice age in The Day After Tomorrow was nonsense - then you'll bust a gut witching what happens during this!

Final Verdict: I’ll be honest, if he's so obsessed with CGI; Emmerich should make outstanding scientific - based Imax 3D documentaries narrated by Sam Neill rather than these sub-par disaster movies, or at least make more character driven movies like The Patriot. 2012 isn't a load of shit, but neither is it brilliant – do catch it on Sky Movies or TV when the time comes but keep your money otherwise.

Colonel Creedon Rating: **1/2

Official Site / IMDB / Wikipedia

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