Well… I mean… This is a really stupid movie.
As Printed in The Lumberjack on Nov. 19, 2009
by Gary Sundt
Director Roland Emmerich’s latest end-of-days blockbuster, 2012, is the very definition of huge. The film has a colossal $260 million budget, which was spent on special effects pieces that are dumbfounding in their enormity. The cast is huge, not only in size, but in caliber of actor (John Cusack is no slouch). The film’s length is no less than two hours and 38 minutes, which follows the recent trend of filmmakers who specialize in the stupid bringing us said idiocy at longer lengths than ever before (see Michael Bay’s Transformers 2 for an example of this).
The only thing not large about 2012 is the movie’s apparent numerical IQ, which is somewhere in the vicinity of borderline retardation. But for a movie based on something as silly as the 2012 conspiracy, it sure could have been worse. Emmerich is the man behind the good Independence Day, the bad Godzilla, the stupid The Day After Tomorrow, and the really, really stupid 10,000 BC. When it comes to destroying the world, this is the guy audiences flock to for the goods.
2012 is the disaster movie to end all disaster movies. The film features a good preliminary 30 minutes of what movies and comic books refer to as “junk science,” which is the medium’s attempt to convince the viewer/reader that any of this is possible using fake technical explanations. But soon the time for talk is over, and the CGI kicks into the highest gear I’ve seen since, well, forever.
The plot is quite simply that the popular conspiracy (in which the world is most certainly coming to an end in December of the year 2012) ends up panning out, and God works his ways to kill humanity really good. The movie follows a few individuals that fight to survive the rather realistic earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, clouds of volcanic ash, tsunamis, tidal waves, and the like, and among those people are struggling author Jackson Curtis (Cusack) and his estranged family.
We know the film’s clichés all too well, and the script by Emmerich and Harald Kloser ticks through them like a checklist. We have the beleaguered scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who saw all this coming and tried to warn everybody; the President of the United States (Danny Glover), who ponders dramatically over the situation because he is, after all, the only world leader who can do anything about this; the conspiracy nut who turned out to be right (Woody Harrelson); the divorced husband and wife (Cusack and Amanda Peet) who have to struggle to protect their children in all this disaster; the government tool who can’t help himself but to be a complete asshole (Oliver Platt).
If you know these actors well enough, you can admire what Emmerich has tried to do here. In the same vein as his better disaster pictures, he has enlisted several talented individuals in the roles of his cookie-cutter characters, which helps pass the long running time when most of the dialogue is something to the effect of “Oh God!” or “Look Out!”
The tagline for 2012 reads, “We were warned.” Allow me to warn you, the potential viewer. Know that 2012 is as big and as stupid as they come. Know that it is overly long and will grate on your nerves after a while. Know that it is tailor made to hit every emotional button while it inundates you with CGI and clichéd moments of human triumph.
But damn if it isn’t kind of fun to watch.