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2012 (movie)

A film directed by Roland Emmerich

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A Disaster Movie That Follows Established Formulas...With a Heavy Dose of Steroids!

  • Nov 16, 2009

Disaster movies are a dime-a-dozen in Hollywood. The approaching year “2012” has raised several speculations from the Mayan calendar to Nostradamus to the Bible code. Many believe that the year 2012 would hold special significance in the history of mankind, many think that something life-changing would happen and an epic catastrophe may cause mankind‘s extinction. Leave it to Hollywood to take advantage of the “2012” phenomenon with co-writer/director Roland Emmerich’s “2012”. Emmerich has two disaster movies under his belt (Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day) and his latest film “2012” follows the same formulas that made other disaster movies successful. Sure, there is nothing uncommon about “2012”, following a simple formula usually means huge returns in the box-office because they do work for mainstream audiences. Following the blueprint of past blockbusters usually mean success in the box-office and this film is that exact same overused formula. “2012” is ridiculously predictable and familiar; it gives you everything you have seen before while injecting it a heavy dose of steroids.
The movie begins with two scientists in 2009 who are having a discussion about an impending doom in the year 2012, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The Earth’s crust is about to undergo a polar shift because of the bombardment of neutrinos from the sun’s surface. Doctor Adrian Helmsmen (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Redbelt) brings his findings to world leaders to prepare for the eventual cataclysm in order to preserve humanity in the cost of billions in Euro-Dollars in building an ark to save the world‘s finest minds and a fraction of its population. Back in Los Angeles, struggling divorced dad Jackson Curtis (John Cusack, High Fidelity) is on a camping trip with his two kids when he bumps into a conspiracy theorist (Woody Harrelson, Zombieland) who predict that the world will end in the year 2012 and that the truth is being kept secret by the governments of the world. Jackson’s first reaction is disbelief, but when a horrible earthquake destroys the area where his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) shops and something clues him in to the possible truth in the warnings, Jackson must race to save his family while the entire world crumbles around them…

            A scene from "2012."
Let’s see, Emmerich is on familiar ground in this disaster epic. A moving speech, check. A car-chase scene with earth upheavals right behind, check. A plane taking off to take our heroes where they need to go, check. Massive Tsunamis that destroy major cities and landmarks, check. A sacrifice, check. Corrupt officials, check. An ending so predictable, check. The film’s plot elements are very uninspired, and truth be told the movie offers nothing we haven’t seen before. Emmerich does make the special effects grander, more polished and bigger than anything we’ve seen before. “2012” is an adrenaline ride that can bring some to the edge of their seats. The film does look very ‘spiffy’ and you feel each drop of debris, each loud explosion, each toppled building as Jackson’s family make their way from Pasadena to the mountains of safety. It is a simple chase film with a race against time, the elements used to generate tension are the cookie-cutter kind, not to say that they weren’t successful but the film doesn’t manage to generate a feeling of dread throughout its entirety. It makes everything all elementary and perfunctory, as the film focuses on a family, a scientist and some key authority figures. 

         John Cusack in "2012."

                             A scene from "2012."
To hide the weaknesses of its script, Emmerich opts to overload the audience with astounding, jaw-dropping special effects so that the details of the plot will not reach our brains. The script also opts to incorporate some comedic one-liners. There is also some doses of black comedy as we see someone impersonate California Governor Schwarzenegger as his speech “the worst is over” precedes the biggest disaster in California. I guess this was an attempt to please mainstream audiences so that they can’t really complain about the bleakness of the film’s theme. Approaches like this appear to stem the emotions; while Hollywood calls a balance, I thought it is all formula done to make it easy to relate to. I guess I prefer my ‘end of the world’ movies to go into truths than to become a mere action film. The film does manage to touch on the selfishness of humanity when faced with an impending disaster, the powers of the rich and several morality questions in Helmsley’s speech. The conversation between a musician and his granddaughter was pretty touching albeit a bit forced. Yes, Emmerich does try to incorporate human drama, but it is a minor element that becomes outdone by its comedy and visual effects. 

           Danny Glover as President Wilson in "2012."

                                         John Cusack as Jackson Curtis and Woody Harrelson as Charlie Frost in "2012."

          Morgan Lily, Amanda Peet and Liam James in "2012."
The characters in “2012” are pretty much your usual caricatures. There is no doubt in my mind that viewers can predict the outcome of the estranged relationship between Jackson, his ex-wife and his kids, as the new boyfriend angle has been done for years. Danny Glover plays the president of the United States. I thought he was decent as the commander in chief while Oliver Platt plays the conniving stooge that comes in the way of the ‘right thing’. I guess fear makes people do stupid things sometimes, and the conspiracy to hide the foreseen 2012 disaster also serves as the villain the movie. One question: if everyone knew, and humanity had the chance to come together, would more arks have been built without the almighty lure of greed?
“2012” isn’t a bad movie, it is actually an entertaining dose of a disaster film that has all the elements of past disaster movies that just is so much bigger, louder and grander. Think “Dante’s Peak”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “The Towering Inferno”, “10.5”, "Earthquake" and the “Airport” franchise all compressed into one “souped-up” action movie. I have yet to see Hollywood portray a disaster movie with the exercise of bleak, compelling and powerful truth, the loss of lives is ignored for a perfunctory happy ending and dry resolution. The film clocks in at 157 minutes, Emmerich goes back and forth from the canned melodrama and the comedic tone to keep the audience distracted in its duller moments. It works in some ways since the film is fast-paced and it feels shorter. However, the film could’ve used better elements in its runtime; “2012” provides crowd-pleasing fun, but isn’t any disaster supposed to be dark and bleak? With the approaching Dec. 21, 2012, a film like this should provoke a thought and not to become just another eye-candy rich popcorn film. This is a movie that doesn't portray the dread 2012; it uses it as another excuse (gimmick if you will) to make a stereotypical disaster flick...
Rental, But Fans of Disaster movies may have a ball [3 Stars] 

A Disaster Movie That Follows Established Formulas...With a Heavy Dose of Steroids! A Disaster Movie That Follows Established Formulas...With a Heavy Dose of Steroids! A Disaster Movie That Follows Established Formulas...With a Heavy Dose of Steroids! A Disaster Movie That Follows Established Formulas...With a Heavy Dose of Steroids!

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March 05, 2010
This film is my favorite disaster film of all time it is cliche but it is also big, bold and outrageously cool. in my opinion one of the bets films of 2009. Good review.
July 26, 2010
this was brainless fun, but truth be told, I prefer disaster movies with a lot of realistic dialogue and a bleak look at its plot and characterization.
February 13, 2010
Well said with this Review Woo-Woo. This movie had some or should I say a lot of room for improvement. I won't likely re-watch this anytime soon unless I'm bored. Hows the new place?.......
February 13, 2010
I love my new place...I feel like I don't deserve it LOL! Yeh, this was mildly entertaining but I was unimpressed with its script. Thank you for the read, Jen-jay!
January 05, 2010
I guess my comment DID fall off. I know I left one. This sounds like it would have me throwing things at the screen. Who needs a movie where you can see the ending coming 3 months before you walk into the theater?!
January 05, 2010
ha-ha! I tell yah, I was clapping when our guesses turned out to be true. I said to myself, Karen was on the money! It is sad that H-wood can be that predictable...
January 08, 2010
But then we have to give ourselves some credit --though it wasn't really needed in this case. WE've logged a lot of movie going hours between us. Were YOU really surprised that Bruce Willis was dead in THE SIXTH SENSE or that the girl was really a guy in THE CRYING GAME? Saw those 2 coming in the first 10 minutes.
November 29, 2009
When the end of the world comes, I'm not going to regret I haven't done this or that. This kind of movies is simply a reminder that life is not everlasting. I love the special effects though, the best of Hollywood!
November 29, 2009
the EFX were phenomenal on this. When the end does come, I'll be just chillin' and watching a movie waiting for the inevitable.
November 18, 2009
I can't even pretend that I'm going to watch this, because I'm not, but I do like your review. Shameless popcorn entertainment can be fun, but I just can't see myself actually enjoying a Rolan Emmerich or a Michael Bay film. Heck, even Proyas' "Knowing" was a letdown.
November 18, 2009
How'd you feel about Stargate?
November 18, 2009
Still haven't seen it. I've heard really mixed things on that one. Some who said that it had some great ideas, but it was poorly done. Others said that the whole movie was awful and completely cliche. Then there were those who said that it was okay, but they liked the show better. When it comes to traveling to other realities, I'll stick with "Sliders".
November 17, 2009
Loved the review. I especially enjoyed the Roland Emmerich checklist. I feel like he tends to get in the way of his movies more often than he helps, but he does have a knack for epic destruction. It would be great if there was a rental store that could cut out all the "Michael Bay-isms" and "Emmerich-itis" so I could just watch the massive destruction (kinda like the Jar-Jar free Star Wars Episode I edit). I'll wait for the rental.
November 18, 2009
Thanks, TeamAWAC! I just couldn't resist making up that checklist. This movie did look very spiffy but graphics and effects can only take a movie so far. Your idea would make a great money-making scheme. "Bay-isms" and "Emmerich-itis" LOL!
November 16, 2009
Thanks for the review Will! I'm not big on Hollywood movies, I haven't actually been to the theaters for ages. Looks like I would want to see this but yet again it isn't worth the big screen (my 42" should be big enough for when it is out on DVD). I don't like predictable, yet every time I watch an unpredictable movie you'll see me at the end with a blank stare and puzzled look - with thoughts running through my mind asking myself why I still like unpredictable movies :)
November 16, 2009
But that is the joy of watching unpredictability. It provokes a reaction and asks a question. This movie wasn't bad, I was never bored with it but it just wasn't good enough for me as it didn't realize its full potential. It is fun and yes, a 42" screen will do for this movie. I predicted some elements long before this movie was released. I couldn't help but smile when I think about how H-wood has become so predictable. :-)
More 2012 (movie) reviews
review by . April 05, 2010
posted in That's Beat
Let me just start by saying that this is why i love Lunch.  I've noticed that this film received some very favorable ratings but i personally didn't like this movie at all.  My disagreement with everyone on this movie, doesn't mean i'm right or wrong... just different opions.      This film is featured on my PayPerView so this weekend we decided to watch it.  In my opinion it was so bad that half way through it was wondering if there is a whole new genre of films …
review by . February 07, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Doomsday Revelation?! or Preservation?!
      You've got movies about airplane crash, movies about cruiseship sinking, movies about terror, movies about asteroid collision, movies about greed, movies about love. What do you have when they are all combined into a single movie? 2012!      We are forewarned about what will happened in 2012. Most of the world were living their lives as per normal and has not a clue. As audience, some had not, but when you have the internet at the tip of tip …
review by . November 12, 2009
Grab a melting pot, stir in some Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, The Posidon Adventure, Titanic and a little Dante's Peak for good measure...and what have you got?      2012 simmering your eyeballs.      BOOM!!!      Roland Emmerich is back on the big screen throwing more stuff around than toddlers at a daycare center juiced on too much red cordial.   This guy knows how to deliever a big, bad ass, destruct-o-rama, let me tell …
review by . April 06, 2010
I happen to enjoy "bad" movies. The types of movies with over sized anacondas or crocodiles; the movies that leave me amused at the hilarity of the Hollywood industry. Thus I was interested in seeing 2012 (mainly because I actually did enjoy "The Day After Tomorrow"). I am also pretty fascinated by any movie that aims at explaining mysterious and mythological events (IE. Mayans "predicting" the end of the world in 2012).      2012 not only ruined …
review by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Lesson in Humanity
What is there to say about 2010? It's got action, drama, love, suspense and a big budget. A large comeback roll for John Cusak who's mainly known for small or obscure films in the 90's and being a part of the 80's movie revolution. The movie is loosely based on the Mayan prediction that in the year 2012 on December 12th the world will come to an end. Cusak who plays Jackson Curtis learns of this conspiracy on a trip with his children to Yellowstone and in looking for the spot where …
Quick Tip by . March 16, 2011
Is ir real? I'm so afraid of that. but of course ,a deeply impressed movie.
review by . November 22, 2009
You don't have to believe in UFOs to enjoy watching CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.  You don't have to believe in the whole global warming package to enjoy watching THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.  You certainly don't have to believe all the hype about 2012 to enjoy this movie.  IMHO, this is the best disaster movie I've seen in a really long time.  The characters are more than just cardboard, the dialog is decent, the special effects are incredible and the overall concept is very …
review by . April 06, 2010
There have been a few comments in reviews about this movie being a simple popcorn flick and how, should you detach your brain for 3 hours you will manage to enjoy this monstrosity. Simply, that is not true, unless you're actually willing to run the risk of you being made more of an idiot by watching this movie and thinking "hmm, that was an enjoyable romp". Perhaps I did look too much into this movie and wanted it to have a good storyline that would at least captivate me without having …
Quick Tip by . October 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I watched this on my iPad. Let's put aside just how idiotic the story is (why would you make heroes out of selfish people that put the lives of tens of thousands of other selfish people at serious risk?). The iPad video quality is amazing but if the very bad special effects were obvious on my Pad, just how badly did they play on the large screen. One of the worst movies ever for every possible reason.
review by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
For an action movie, this is sure to impress. The acting is decent, not top notch, but a good cast for sure. The plot keeps you guessing, and makes you think. The special effects are top notch however- I wish that I had seen this movie in the theater the first time, as I'm sure on the big screen its even better. Would be interesting to see a follow up of sorts.
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William ()
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About this movie


2012 is a 2009 disaster film directed by Roland Emmerich. The film has an ensemble cast, including John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Woody Harrelson. The film will be distributed by Columbia Pictures. Filming began in August 2008 in Vancouver. The film was released on November 11, 2009.

Now this is how you destroy the world. Roland Emmerich's2012pounces on a Nostradamus-style loophole in the Mayan calendar and rams the apocalypse through it, gleefully conjuring up an enormous amount of Saturday-matinee fun in the process. A scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) detects shifting continental plates and sun flares and realizes that this foretells the imminent destruction of the planet. Just as the molten lava is about to hit the fan, a novelist (John Cusack) takes his kids on a trip to Yellowstone; later he'll hook up with his ex (Amanda Peet) and her new boyfriend (Tom McCarthy) in a global journey toward safety. If there is any safety. The suitably hair-raising plot lines are punctuated--frequently, people, frequently--by visions of mayhem around the globe: the Vatican falls over, the White House is clobbered (Emmerich'sIndependence Daywas not enough on that score), and the California coastline dives into the Pacific Ocean. Unlike other action directors we could name, Emmerich actually understands how to let you see and drink in these vast special-effects vistas--and they are incredible. He also honors the old Irwin...
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Director: Roland Emmerich
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 13 November 2009 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Runtime: 158 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Centropolis Entertainment, Farewell Productions
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