2012 (2009)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 3.9/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 6/10

2012 (2009) - Roland Emmerich

The 2012 phenomenon is a scope of eschatological beliefs focused on the cataclysmic events that mark the "end of the world." Whether the notion is the arrival of the next solar maximum, or Earth's collision with an object, this catastrophic event is believed to occur on the 21st day of December, 2012, the end-date of a 5,125 year long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.

Roland Emmerich's 2012 begins with geologist Adrian Helmsley, who learns in the year 2009 that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are causing the temperature of the Earth's core to rapidly increase. In 2010, President Wilson (Danny Glover) and other international leaders combine their efforts to commence a top secret project to ensure humanity's survival: Building "arks" in the Himalayas, which are built to save approximately a population of 400,000.

The main plot of 2012 is set in the year of the disaster, and follows science fiction writer Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) who, after hearing about the phenomenon from a radio host (Woody Harrelson), attempts to bring both his children, ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and her boyfriend to refuge and escape the astronomical changes in the Earth's geography.

The cleverest move 2012 makes is that it is fully aware that the phenomenon involves the entire world, and thus the scope of the disasters must be as massive as ever. Roland Emmerich goes from Los Angeles to Tibet, Hawaii to India, Brazil to Italy, and takes almost every famous monument and demolishes it for our cinematic entertainment. The visual effects are incredible, with every single detail of chaos being shown. Every time I watch the earthquake sequence, I can see something new. The scale of this film defines the word "grand." If you thought Emmerich's Independence Day or The Day After Tomorrow was grand, this movie would make all the others look like minimalist films. This is the end of the *world*, and Roland Emmerich is not afraid to show it to you.

I remember in 2009, when I was sitting in the theater watching 2012, and after the film was over, to quote one of the main criticisms on this film, I had a dragged feeling that "three years have passed and it is actually the year of 2012." 2012 suffers from its second greatest flaw, the running time: 2 hours and 38 minutes. Underneath the disaster plot of 2012 lies a good 90-minute core of unnecessary drama, the family stories involving John Cusack's character. To quote New York Times, "The movie sags, done in by multiple story lines that undercut one another and by the heaviness of its conceit." Due to its large scale, there are many more characters in this film, each one with his/her own story to tell, but the script is too minuscule to support it all. Thus, it begins collapsing like the Earth itself in this so-called end of the world.

Unfortunately, despite 2012 having the greatest visuals in Emmerich's career, it probably has one of his worst screenplays. The dialogue here is much more hackneyed than before, and the situations that the characters find themselves in are far more ludicrous, as if the absurd situations from the previous films are not enough. To quote the Los Angeles Times, "[Nothing] will give you more respect for how difficult it is to be an actor than watching top talent like John Cusack struggling to treat the film's ungodly language and situations with perfect seriousness." The film is undoubtedly over-the-top, but it is one of those rare films that are cinematically bad but are immensely enjoyable still, though I would not go so far as to call this a "so bad, it's good" movie. 2012 is a movie with cheesy dialogue and preposterous scenes where earthquakes "chase" planes. But remember, this is a disaster movie made by Roland Emmerich. However, if this film's concept was handed to someone like Steven Spielberg, then 2012 might have ended up becoming a very unique film with monumental scales and themes.

In conclusion, 2012 is pure senseless fun. It is absolutely ridiculous, but it is the biggest ride you will ever have. To touch on the film's cheesiness again, the plot is basically a cast of famous actors surviving massive earthquakes, giant fireballs, and a mountainous flood. Literally mountainous. Just look at the poster. Nevertheless, just like any disaster movie, the film accomplishes what it sets out to do. To agree with Roger Ebert, "2012 delivers what it promises, and since no sentient being will buy a ticket expecting anything else, it will be, for its audiences, one of the most satisfactory films of the year." For this critic's opinion, that statement would be completely true if the film was cut down by a lot. But as mentioned before, 2012 is a disaster movie. No, scratch that. It is a disaster movie on steroids. It is the ultimate summer blockbuster movie where you enjoy the visuals while munching on your bag of popcorns. Actually, you will probably need three extra bags to sit through the entire film.


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