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2012
Genre Adventure
Year: 2009
 
Review:

"When they tell you not to panic... that's when you run.", says Jackson Curtis, published author of 'Farewell Atlantis', played by John Cusack (Con Air). Undisputed "Master of Disaster", Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow) brings us 2012, a doomsday, apocalypse, cataclysm, "it's the end of the world as we know it", catastrophe of a film in every sense of the word. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, fire-balls... 2012 is meant to be the film to end all disaster films. Cusack is 2012's star alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor (Tsunami: The Aftermath), who are supported by an ensemble including: Oliver Platt as a greasy Yes Man, Danny Glover as President, Woody Harrelson as a nut job, Thandie Newton as the first daughter and Amanda Peet as... herself.

It's a monster of a film... spanning the globe with non-stop doomsday action for 158 minutes! Emmerich has never been afraid to bend science and history to his will and 2012 is no different. It's based on the theory that the Mayan Meso-American civilization's calendar predicts the end of the world on 21 December, 2012. Luckily, this prediction is not accepted by respected science or Mayan culture, since the doomsday prophecy and date are a Western concept, which ties in with astronomical events. So before you start digging a bomb shelter in your backyard, stockpiling Twinkies, hyperventilating or calling your Mom, I'd suggest you buy a brown paper bag, breathe and repeat to yourself "Everything's going to be okay.".

It's no secret, Emmerich makes epic movies. He's like a mixture between Jerry Bruckheimer and Uwe Boll with writer-director credits for The Patriot, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Stargate, 10,000 B.C. and Godzilla. 2012 falls into the same mold that most of his films do... it's all about the popcorn, baby! "Screw history, leave science to the nerds... I'm here to make big-ass movies!" While I'm not quoting the man directly, it's certainly the impression you get of him after watching the monolithic beasts he unleashes to the big screen!

2012 works when it comes to likable characters, starring two of the nicest guys you could possibly imagine with Cusack and Ejiofor leading the charge. The element of humanity is another great yet melodramatic aspect to 2012 with some tear-jerking moments in who gets saved and who doesn't... with plenty of heroic self-sacrificing along the way. 2012 also juggles genres, moving swiftly between action, adventure, comedy, drama and science fiction. The human factor and genre mix is what actually saves 2012 from being a complete dud. The performances are decent enough to hold your attention and the story is thrilling and intriguing enough to keep you watching. It's actually surprising how quickly the three hours vanish... as we're transported from country-to-country, disaster-to-disaster, near-death escape-to-escape, melodrama-to-melodrama... and so on.

While 2012 isn't the disaster film to end all diaster films as Emmerich had planned, it makes an interesting tapestry of themes from other movies like: The Towering Inferno, Dante's Peak, Titanic, The Day After Tomorrow, Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Core, War of the Worlds and even Armageddon. Unfortunately, Emmerich doesn't manage to tie a bow on this massive production, the gaping plot holes make 2012 look like Swiss cheese and some convoluted aspects of the story defy all reason... but hey, you'll love it if you don't pick at it too much!  

2012 is too long. Sure, it's his last disaster flick... bla, bla, bla, but that doesn't give a writer-producer-director license to put our butts to sleep!? The film could have been trimmed down to just under two hours, but Emmerich pretty much does as he pleases with his 158 minute "buttbusters". The movie also relies too heavily on CGI, a criticism that's almost become a trademark for the German film-maker. He strikes a better balance in 2012 than he did with 10,000 B.C., but it still hurls massive set pieces at us that could have been lifted from a video game intro or worse, a life insurance commercial. The escape scenes have real atmosphere, but it's difficult to fool the human eye... and even more difficult to hide bad CGI.

Apart from the run time, the high-concept deception, CGI overload and intermittent melodramatic goodbyes... 2012 is a pretty entertaining feast for the eyes. The movie trailer gives you a good idea of what to expect and it's great to watch a recognisable Hollywood cast giving it a full go. 2012 may not be the smartest disaster film out there, but it sure packs a punch when it comes to entertainment and provides that much-needed dose of commercial escapism. I guess the best thing about 2012... is that you can leave the cinema thinking - I had to pay 40 bucks to see 2012, but it's not the end of the world. Seriously... it isn't!

The bottom line: Unwieldy.

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