2012 - Edge-of-the-Seat Thrill Ride
2012 (disaster adventure)
Cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt and Chin Han
Director: Roland Emmerich
Time: 158 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: We were warned: Roland Emmerich's 2012 would be the disaster movie to end all disaster movies. We sneered a bit, but we believed. Emmerich has been vying to be Hollywood's Demolition King since his Independence Day (1996),
Godzilla (1998) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004). Now, with the aid of superior CGI, he seems to have done it.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Basically, it is about the Earth melting at the core! The ancient Mayans knew about this and researchers say they have even pinpointed the date to 12-21-12 - or December 21, 2012! Scientifically, though, mutant neutrinos have boiled the Earth's core like a microwave, causing quakes, spilling lava and shifting the Earth's crust. That's right. This means our land mass moves about so violently that we may find Wisconsin right on the South Pole!
A few people are privy to this info about the imminent end of the world. One person who stumbles onto the truth is writer Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) and he goes all out to get his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and kids (Liam James and Morgan Lily) to safety. The authorities (represented by Danny Glover as the US President, Oliver Platt as the Chief of Staff and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Adrian Helmsley, the American scientist who alerts the White House) must use the time they have to prepare for Doomsday - and a Brave New World!
HITS & MISSES: Well, what can I say about a disaster movie that has all the best bits of all the other disaster hits like Earthquake, Volcano, The Poseidon Adventure, Airport and Armegeddon? The CGI effects look so real and involving that they keep us on the edge of our seats. Those, plus the Indy Jones-type escapades of Cusack's Jackson who always manages to be just inches and split-seconds away from danger and mayhem. Some of these, like the underwater bid to undo a mechanical problem (a'la Poseidon films), may be old stuff but they mainly keep us occupied for the two-and-a-half hour rollercoaster ride!
The subplot about Jackson's family set-up is engaging enough but many of the plot turns and situations are utterly preposterous. However, Emmerich makes it clear that he knows how silly they are - by showing some of them in a tongue-in-cheek manner. It is all a theme park extravaganza - a thrill ride through one spectacle after another. I can imagine the fun Emmerich must be having, demolishing national icons like the White House (for a second time), the Christ statue of Rio and even St Peter's of Vatican City.
THE LOWDOWN: It's no great cerebral fare, but as an End-of-the-World flick, it gets you there!