Thursday, December 10, 2009

2012 (2009)

Title: 2012 (2009)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt


There’s a couple of directors out there who’s names are synonymous with bad films. Guys like Uwe Boll for example. You say his name people immediately think of low budget bad filmmaking. The kind that makes you want to pull your hairs out. Roland Emmerich has unfortunately fallen somewhere along those lines as well, only difference between him and Boll is that Emmerich makes overpriced, big budget bad films. I mean honestly, what the hell was 10,000 B.C. if not one of the worst films ever made? That film was awful beyond description. To Emmerich’s credit, not everything he has made is shit. I enjoyed Independence Day as much as the next guy, though I enjoy it a lot less nowadays. Stargate is a pretty respectable science fiction flick if you ask me. And as a kid, I even enjoyed one of his first flicks. An evil possessed dummy flick called Making Contact.

But what Roland Emmerich is most known for nowadays is his “end of the world” movies. It seems he has become some sort of an expert on these kind of films. He enjoys blowing up famous landmarks, destroying everything in site, putting humanity in peril. On Independence Day he blows up the white house! On The Day After Tomorrow, the New York Public Library gets drowned by a gigantic water wave! In Godzilla the oversized lizard tares up the streets of Manhattan and plants all of its eggs on the Madison Square Garden! So he has sort of become some what of an expert in disaster flicks. And its understandable that he wants to make these kinds of films, he is just commenting on the self destructive nature that humanity continues to display. His message is, "if we keep this up, its eventually going to bite us in the ass! And a lot sooner then we think!". So, what’s Emmerich been up to with 2012? Does it somehow surpass his previous destruction fests? Or is it more of the same?

In 2012, the sun is sending these heat waves to earth, over heating it and basically turning our planet into one huge microwave! The rivers and lakes are drying up, theres heat waves everywhere and the weather is completely out of whack! The scientists of the world have realized what’s going on and are trying to warn the governments of the upcoming “end of the world” but they are only taking it as a joke! Meanwhile, John Cusack is taking his kids out for a holiday in Yellow Stone Park, as the end of the world is about to begin! Will humanity survive the coming apocalypse? Where the Mayans right all along about 2012?

There’s lots of talk all over the world about the upcoming year. 2012. Some idiots out there actually believe that something might happen, that its going to be the year in which the world will end by some sort of cataclysmic catastrophe. A meteor? The weather will kill us? The oceans will engulf us? There are all kinds of wild theories. Supposedly, according to the Mayan calendar, the end of the world is going to come on December 21 or 23, 2012. The film takew advantage of peoples fears on this subject matter. Weird thing is The Mayan calendar doesn’t even compose a big part of the movie, its all reduced to one guy saying “The Mayans were right all along” and that’s it. They don’t go into some big explanation or tie in with the whole Mayan calendar thing. This film leans more towards the “nature can wipe us out of existence whenever it wants” school of thought, which of course is a more believable way of seeing things for me. I mean if the world was truly going to end some day, I would say it was going to happen as a result of some cataclysmic event like a meteor hitting us or the earth deciding to move around a bit; as opposed to some ancient prophecy bull crap.

So how about that destruction of the world? How did it unfold? Well, Ill tell ya, its one of the most amazing displays of destruction I have seen on any movie to date! I do not think I will see a film in which the world is destroyed in a more gargantuan way then the way it was destroyed on this film. It’s the biggest display of destruction I have ever seen! How can Emmerich top this level of destruction? He cant, he just cant. There’s no way that more destruction can be shown on any movie. All other end of the world flicks will have to look at this one as reference because this one is the king of all “end of the world” flicks. Meteors, gigantic earthquakes, buildings colliding with one another, streets being ripped apart, giant ocean waves engulfing the land; you name it and its here! Kudos to the special effects guys! I mean, yeah, it’s over the top! But its done so well. I was literally saying “wow!” every five seconds. There’s a scene in which John Cusack and his family are flying over a plane while all the destruction is going on that’s just amazing.

But is it all a hollow special effects spectacle? Well, as is expected in a catastrophe film, we follow lots of different stories, with different families and people facing the end of the world. But the main story is that of John Cusack and his family pulling together in the middle of all the chaos. He has divorced his wife, and they have joint custody over the kids. Will the end of the world bring mom and dad back together again?

What I enjoyed the most about this movie though was that it really is epic. It takes the story further then I had expected. It’s not just about the end of the world, with all the destruction taking center stage, it’s also about he survival of the human race. How can humanity go on and survive in spite of the upcoming apocalypse? This is where I found the story got really interesting! Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem for a Dream, Pi and The Wrestler had an idea for a film that’s very similar to this one, but he never got around to making it. In that proposed flick, the world was coming to an end, and humans find a way to escape by building spaceships and escaping the destruction, mirroring the biblical Noahs Ark story. The same idea was approached by Pixar’s Wall-E, where humanity had to escape the garbage filled earth. On 2012, humanity manages to escape, but in a very different way.

A word of warning though. This is the kind of film where the good guys always escape at the last second, where they will be as close to death as possible without dying at all. Behind them, the world can be falling apart, but they will escape at just the last moment. I knew this is the kind of film I was going to watch, so I was just having fun with it, cause you know, this movie is a big budget studio production, millions of dollars are being spent here so of course non of the good guys are going to die! Only people to die are secondary characters or extras, and lots of those die that’s for sure! Roland Emmerich destroys many legendary landmarks on this one, like The Vatican, which gets blown to smithereens! The Christ of Corcovado gets ripped in half! The white house gets destroyed again! Yellow Stone Park goes up in flames! But somehow, the main characters always find a way to escape all of it at the last second!

Performance wise, the film has an excellent cast. John Cusack as the main character is great, to me he is always likable in whatever he is in. I loved the fact that they gave such an important role to Chiwetel Ejiofor, a great actor every step of the way, he plays the scientist trying to warn the government of the United States about whats going to happen. I was so happy to see Danny Glover in a film again! Its been so long since he was in a major film, and on this one he plays the president of the U.S. Woody Harrelson plays a bit of comedy relief on this one. It seems he is great for these kind of whacky crazy characters, he also did a fine job in Zombieland playing Talahasee, on this one, he appears briefly (his appearance plays out like something of an extended cameo) but it is one of the characters that kind of lightens up things in the film in the middle of all the chaos. Also, Oliver Platt deserves a mention here. He plays the evil polititian who cares only about himself. He lies, he is selfish, and he doesnt give a damn about the people, you know, your basic evil polititian. (Are there any good ones anyway?)  On this flick, Oliver Platt demonstrated that he has potential to play villains very well. Some director out there should take advantage of that at some point and give him more villainous roles.

On the negative side of things, the film does have similarities at one point with films like Titanic and Poseidon. You know, the kind of scene where everyone is looking out for themselves? When things get really tense and everyone goes batshit insane cause they know they that they are going to have to get really selfish in order to survive? Like those scenes where everyone is trying to get on the lifeboats in Titanic? Same type of situation here. These kind of scenes always lend themselves for lots of juicy chaos.  I hate movies that use that common scenario where people are trapped inside of a boat or something thats being flooded with water, and then someone has to go and swim underwater to do something that will save everyone else! Thats so freaking cliche! And its been done to death in hundreds of films before! And to top things off, they go with the, "but he was right behind me" bit, where you think the main character drowned on his way back...but suddenly bursts out of the water to show us that he is okay! He survived! Please, I would have been so happy without that bit in the film, but whatever, it's a minor glitch in an other wise fun and entertaining flick.

Do you think the audience will notice were standing in front of a green screen John?

The film deals with the end of the world, which is a depressing thought on its own, but it adds a bit of comedy relief thanks to the inclusion of Woody Harrelson who plays a crazy conspiracy nut, who’s up to date on all the crazy things that are going on in the world. He has one of the coolest moments in the film! Which brings me to my next point, the film is never too dark, like for example the upcoming post apocalyptic film called The Road, which presents us with a really dark out look on the post apocalyptic world. On 2012, Roland Emmerich tried his best to end things on a positive and uplifting note, because you know, this is a multi-million dollar production, and we gotta give the audience that happy ending. But multi-million dollar production hiccups aside, this movie was an entertaining ride. It’s a non stop spectacle of awesome effects from beginning to end. Highly recommend it if you want to overdose on awesome fx and an end of the world storyline. Roland Emmerich has vindicated himself with this movie. Let’s see how long he can keep himself on my good side.

Rating: 3 out of 5


HorrO said...

I liked this movie and your comments on it. Good point about them not going into the Mayan calendar thing. I didn't even realize that, but I am glad they went past that. I also liked the destruction scenes in the movie. Some park should make a ride out of the airplane flying thru falling buildings scene. I found the boats and how they planned to survive afterwards interesting. Most world is going to end movies do not address what the characters will do in the future, but this one did.

Franco Macabro said...

I thought the samething HorrO, I immediately thought that Roland Emmerich had a Universal Studios ride in mind when he made that scene. I can see it already, you get on a little plane...and of you go!

That scene had all the excitement of a really good ride!

Manuel Marrero said...

I havent seen it, but I hate disaster movies. My opinion, id rather eat the asshole of a rotting skunk and wash it down with a warm beer then watching this movie!!

But John Cusack might actually make it more watchable, his always good on anything he does. Thats what made me watch Martian Child.

r4i software said...

Why do people think 2012 will be the end of the world? I mean what if the Mayans ment that was the end of the way things worked now. Sort of age unlike that of the previous ones. That this new age starting at 2012 will not be a repeat cycle like before. Strange movie idea though.

Franco Macabro said...

@Manny: Trust me Manny, this movie is actually pretty enjoyable! Its way better then anything Emmerich had done before, and this comes from a guy who hates many of Emmerich's films!

@r41software: I dont know, the end of the world on 2012 has been something that has always been on the Mayan calendar, people just love to take something and blow it out of proportion to make money out of it. Hence, this multi million dollar block buster. Fear is a tool to make money!

I Like Horror Movies said...

I was checked out within the first half hour. I just hate disaster movies.. They are so tiresome to me, for the exact reason you stated above:

"A word of warning though. This is the kind of film where the good guys always escape at the last second, where they will be as close to death as possible without dying at all."

That immediately breaks me from the film and drives me nuts. I hate it. The special FX were nothing short of amazing, but I just cant deal with plots that are that contrived =D

Franco Macabro said...

I get ya Carl, disaster movies can be predictable. For example, I just hated every single second of Poseidon. What an awful movie!! But 2012? Fun times all the way. I think it was the mix of non stop action and excellent effects, plus Woody Harrelson and John Cusack and the rest of the excelent cast make the film more watchable then most disaster movies.


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