Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So my good friend Pete, who I often mention in these pages, has the theory that the Mayan’s simply got tired of making calendar’s so far in the future and just stopped on December 21st, 2012. I think this actually kind of makes sense considering the calendar originated some six hundred years before the birth of Christ so eventually they said ‘you know what? we ain’t gonna be here 2600 years from now so lets shut it down.’ And then they made up some stuff to tell the boss about the alignment of the planets and the end of days or some nonsense so he would sign off on the work stoppage. Makes total sense to me. But of course Mayan’s simply being lazy doesn’t make for a very good disaster picture so it’s a good thing we have Director Roland Emmerich, who can blow up stuff just about as good as anybody, with his move ‘2012’ which is ‘Earthquake’, ‘The Poseidon Adventure’, ‘The Towering Inferno’, ‘Airport’ and ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ all wrapped up into one explosive nonsensical melodramatic action fest.

Somewhere in India in the year 2010 a scientist has made a terrible discovery, a discovery which is confirmed by America’s top scientist Dr. Adrien Helmsley (Chiewetel Ejiofor). Dr. Helmsley takes this discovery to big time gub-ment official Carl Anhueser (Oliver Platt) who in turn takes it to the President of the United States (Danny Glover). In short the sun is messing up, the earth’s crust is heating up and in a couple of years we will all be dead. Every last one of us.

But what to do in the meantime? Well let’s hang out with failed author, current limo driver an absentee divorced father Jackson Curtis (John Cusack). Jackson picks up his kids from his ex-wife Kate (Amanda Peet) for a trip to Yellowstone where he finds that sections of Yellowstone has been quartered off because its lakes have boiled out. This introduces Jackson to the previously mentioned Dr. Hemsley who is a fan of Jackson’s writing and subsequently Jackson will stumble upon the loon Charlie Frost

(Woody Harrelson) who is that all important cat in movies like this who has all the answers but is largely disregarded because he’s crazy. Jackson thought Charlie was pretty damn crazy too, and Charlie is pretty damn crazy, but still everything Charlie told him started to come true such as the earth is boiling, the government is lying, people with knowledge are mysteriously dying and big ships are being built to save the privileged few.

Now Jackson is armed with the truth with his main goal now being to save his children, his ex-wife, his ex-wife’s boyfriend and find a way they can get on these big ass ships and avoid extinction. This is going to be tough because Cali is falling into the Pacific, but Jackson has driving skills that would make Jimmy Johnson weep in envy because be it in an limo or an RV, Jackson can out maneuver earthquakes and volcanoes like its nobody’s business. But what they really need is somebody who can fly an airplane… Oh, did we mention that the ex-wife’s boyfriend knows how to fly a plane and has skills that would make Jimmy Johnson weep with envy, that is if Jimmy Johnson flew airplanes instead of driving cars? How convenient! But gosh darn, they still have to make it to these big ships, which happen to be in China somewhere and they’re in Los Angeles. How in the hell are they going make it with doomsday clicking down to triple zero? I’m going to totally SPOIL it for you so don’t read further baby if you want to be ‘surprised’.

The good thing about ‘2012’ was that I wasn’t going into this movie looking for any kind of intellectually challenging experience, and boy did this movie live up to that! I wanted to see things explode and disaster occur in Dolby D surround and glorious Technicolor and that’s what I got. Would it have helped if they could’ve whittled down some of the melodrama in this damn near two and half hour movie? Yes it would have. Would it have helped if the filmmakers had made this film a little less predictable and slightly less disposable? Sure. But we didn’t get that so we’re not going to harp on that. The disasters were gloriously filmed and very realistic and there were plenty of them to experience. You are going to have to buy into the fact that stretch limo’s and RV’s can fly, but that’s not so hard to do, is it? You may also be forced to believe over sized army cargo planes can maneuver like a remote control prop plane, but that shouldn’t be a problem either.

But there are some issues. Take the plane flying boyfriend for instance. It would’ve been nice for the filmmaker to surprise us and allow him to live, even when his usefulness in flying planes had been outlived. We understand his survival gets in the way of love and family reunification, but what a disposable character he turned out be. We enjoyed the scene when the bratty son urged his dad to get to know the boyfriend because ‘he’s a good guy’. Dad should’ve reassuringly massaged his son’s shoulder and said ‘Son, that won’t be necessary’.  Somehow our heroes need to get from L.A. to China with no gas on their plane, so what good fortune it is that the earth’s plates shift to exactly where you need be just as you crash land? Awesome. We also loved how the pilot of that plane breathed a sigh of relief that his plane didn’t actually fall over that cliff it was teetering dangerously on, say instead of GETTING OFF THE DAMN PLANE. Then watch the plane crash and burst into flames, even though it has nary a drop a fuel in it. While saving giraffe’s and gorilla’s is cool and all, we don’t eat them. Screw them. They’re taking up valuable space on this ship which could be used for chickens, cows and pigs and the occasional lamb. And unless dogs are on the menu they don’t need to be saved either. Screw them. And what good is it charging somebody X-billion Euros to for a seat on the ship if you aren’t going to be around to spend that money? So the President of the freaking United States of America can’t successfully transmit a message to the people but some random cat in the middle of a Tsunami can place a cell phone call halfway across the world? Those Verizon towers are something else. And how come every time a brother is president the world has to end? See Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact. What’s up with that? And who was that actress that got no lines playing George Segal’s supposedly Japanese daughter in law? Damn she was fine. And while it does suck that almost the entire population of the planet earth is dead, Dr. Helmsely gets to tag the Presidents daughter played by Thandie Newton because he’s pretty much the only one left to tag that. We call that turning a frown upside down where I come from.

Part of what makes ‘2012’ so entertaining is that it’s so stupid that you can talk about these things all day long, plus it’s a disaster movie in which almost everybody on the planet dies but still leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling at the end. You can’t beat that with a stick.

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