If you have seen a single advertisement for 2012, you know what this movie is. I’m not saying you know the plot (as if it mattered) or anything like that. You know that the world ends in a spectacular fashion and all you have to do then is extend that out to 2 ½ hours and you have a movie that is exhilarating to the point of exhaustion. If you grouped 2012 with director Roland Emmerich’s previous disaster films, Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, then 2012 would be the crowning achievement of an unofficial “I Hate Earth” trilogy.
According to people who don’t know what they’re talking about, the ancient Mayans predicted that the world will end in 2012. Actually, the Mayans didn’t say this and it’s a presumption based on a Mayan calendar which just ends. It’s kind of like reaching the end of your Far Side page-a-day calendar and because there’s nothing left, you sell all your worldly positions, stock up on water, and build a bunker. Don’t worry, you can still use the one you build back when the world didn’t end in the year 2000.
Thankfully, Emmerich’s movies don’t need facts–just a jumping off point for disaster. Our doom comes from neutrinos mutating within the Earth’s core thus creating a cataclysmic event. This is one step removed from Roland Emmerich just opening the movie with him speaking directly to the camera and saying, “I make Earth go boom now.” But it would be unnecessary since you already knew what he was going to do to our poor, sweet, innocent planet.
The blessing of a cataclysm for Emmerich is that he’s allowed to do whatever he wants. Earthquakes? No problem! Meteors spewing forth from a volcano? Why not! Emmerich certainly used every dollar of his massive budget but part of me wanted truly insane events to mirror the insane action scenes. I wanted animals going crazy with bears putting on people clothes and forming an army while the mole people rise up out of the ground and take control of Atlantic City. But at 2 ½ hours, I understand there’s not a lot of time for those kind of subplots so most of the Earth just crumbles or gets washed away by tidal waves. If possible, bring a bingo card with you where every square is the name of a famous world monument. Here’s your free space: it doesn’t work out well for the Sistine Chapel. Or the Pope (when you get this movie on Blu-ray–and it’s going to be a must-own demo disc for your home theater–look for when the Pope gets smushed; Emmerich says it’s in there).
Roldan Emmerich, God bless him, is good at what he does which is one, unending climax of destruction. When he’s not busy destroying the Earth, he switches to one of his intertwining narratives, all of which inevitably lead to tear-filled good-byes and sacrifices to remind us that humanity is at its best when the world comes to an end. But sacrifices don’t have to be sad! Every death is a blaze of glory or the ultimate moment of compassion. I can only remember one death in the film that wasn’t like that and I was confused why that character received such a bland ending when he/she didn’t deserve it. It’s a rarity that a film can be so predictable but yet still a lot of fun.
In a movie like 2012, story and characters don’t matter. The characters are fine and all the actors give good performances, but they’re irrelevant when it comes to what this movie does. The story is not only what you’d expect, but offers those gigantic loopholes and leaps of logic which, for a film like, actually improve the viewing experience. Everything loud, abrasive, and what would be unbearable in most movies is what you sign up for when you buy your ticket for this cinematic equivalent of those bacon-cheeseburgers with Krispy Kreme donuts in place of buns.
You probably won’t walk of 2012 scared that you only have three years left on Earth. You’ll most likely feel drained before going home and taking a nap. But you won’t feel ripped off because you knew what you were getting into and 2012 delivers.
And if this movie turns out to be an accurate vision of our future, then at least our cell phones will work no matter how little of the Earth remains, planes will be so easy to fly that someone with only two flying lessons can co-pilot a cargo plane, and our cars and even our campers will have the handling to make razor sharp turns combined with the structure to make them indestructible. With such an exciting world, it’s a shame that the neutrinos in our planet’s core change so that the entire crust of our planet shifts. How did the Mayans know?
Rating —– B minus