As if everyone in the world wasn’t already panicking enough about the Mayan-predicted global disaster, 2012 director Roland Emmerich (the master of disaster films who made Independence Day, Godzilla, and the precursor end-of-the-world film The Day After Tomorrow) gives a long, thorough look at what kind of horrible catastrophes could occur on that fateful day. After 40 minutes of lead-up, there are two hours of straight destruction.
The movie starts the way you would expect a disaster movie to start. Some scientists look at a computer screen and find that a crazy scientific anomaly is hurling the planet towards imminent destruction. Basically, the earth’s core is overheating and melting the earth’s mantle causing the tectonic plates to shift. The film’s main focus is the unlikely hero, Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), and his struggles to keep his children, ex-wife and her boyfriend alive amidst the cataclysm.
The premise sounds decent enough, but the plot contains far too much science fiction for a film showcasing the worst case scenario humanity could face. To say that you have to suspend your disbelief would be an understatement. The issues don’t stop at the plot, however, because even the acting is fairly sub par for a cast with big name actors like John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Woody Harrelson. Just the way humor was worked into random, inappropriate situations makes too many scenes seem “off.”
The one area where the film was meant to shine was in its special effects, and it definitely achieved its goal in that sense. It really shows what you can do with a $250 million budget. Mile-long cracks open in the earth’s surface, volcanoes decimate entire landscapes, and massive waves engulf everything in their paths. Unlike every other action film, the scenes aren’t butchered and quickly edited; they’re given in long, panoramic shots.
If you’re looking for a deep film with an interesting plot and characters, this may not be the one for you. On the other hand, if you want to see Los Angeles slip into the ocean and Yellowstone decimated by a glorious fireball, 2012 is your film.