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2012 (2009; Rated Rated PG-13)

2012
D-
 

“It's the end of the world, and they blow it.”

-Richard Roeper

2012 Review

2012

(2009; PG-13)

In theaters:
Friday, 13 November 2009

Summary: An epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.

Genre:
Action, Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller

Director:
Roland Emmerich

Cast:
John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt

In giving three and a half stars to "2012," my good friend Roger Ebert has this to say about the film:

"This is fun. '2012' delivers what it promises, and since no sentient being will buy a ticket expecting anything else, it will be, for its audiences, one of the most satisfactory films of the year...You think you've seen end-of-the-wold movies? This one ends the world, stomps on it, grinds it up and spits it out."

Oh, how I miss mixing it up in the balcony with Roger. Had he uttered those words on "Ebert & Roeper," I would have turned to him and said, in the most respectful of tones: "We have confirmation. You have lost your mind."

I know I watched the same movie Roger saw, because we were at the same screening. But while he is more than willing to embrace "2012" as a big-bang thrill ride, I am trying to figure out what ranking I will ascribe to it when I compile my list of the worst movies.

Of the decade.

There's no denying Roland Emmerich's ability to destroy things onscreen. From "Independence Day" to "Godzilla" to "The Day After Tomorrow," Emmerich keeps working out his whole hatred-of-the-world thing on the biggest canvases imaginable. But as the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument, the Sistine Chapel, etc., were shattered and toppled and destroyed in "2012" as tiny little computer-generated humans scrambled for their lives, I shifted gears from impressed (by the special effects)  to impatient to restless to irritated to annoyed to WHEN IS THE F------ MOVIE GOING TO END?!?!?!?

Like Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" and Tom Cruise in "War of the Worlds" and Bill Paxton in "Twister" and about two dozen other leading men in action films, John Cusack plays a guy who has lost his family but has the chance to redeem himself in the midst of a giant crisis. Cusack's Jackson Curtis takes his kids on a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park, where he stumbles (well, climbs over a fence) into a restricted area where something very fishy seems to be happening. Cue Woody Harrelson, campaigning hard for a Razzie as Charlie, a seemingly insane conspiracy theorist and pirate radio host who swears the end of the world is near, just as the Mayans predicted.

Soon the Earth is literally falling apart at the seams. Danny Glover is the obligatory noble but helpless president of the United States; Thandie Newton is the obligatory adoring daughter of the widowed president; Oliver Platt is the obligatory scheming chief of staff; Chiwetel Eijofor is the obligatory science adviser with a conscience; George Segal is the obligatory old-timer on a cruise ship who wants to reconcile with his son before it's too late. Every character in this movie is inspired by some other character from some other disaster movie. There are many good actors here, spouting ridiculous lines while trying to maintain some semblance of dignity.

Dignity loses, in a landslide.

There's a certain cruelty in the way Emmerich kills off some of the supporting characters. Just when we think they've survived a flood or an explosion or an earthquake or a fireball, whoops! Splat. Bang. It's like a "Road Runner" cartoon, except nobody ever gets up. Even in a live action cartoon like this, some of the "kills" are just mean.

As entire cities fall and tidal waves swirl and the skies swirl with doom, we learn that thousands of Chinese laborers have been constructing giant arks in the Himalayas, and that a few hundred thousand people (along with two elephants, two giraffes, etc.) will be allowed to board these arks in order to continue the species. Only the talented and the very wealthy will make the cut. Apparently none of the workers who built these monstrous vessels ever paused to say, "Hey, once I'm done here, what's in it for me?" There's a lot of late-in-the-movie moralizing and speechifying about the whole process, but it's hard to swallow any messages from a filmmaker who has just spent two hours gleefully killing millions of screaming human beings in the name of entertainment.

I suppose if you view "2012" as a near-parody, as a so-bad-it's-good experience, you might be entertained by this overlong, overblown, all-out assault on your senses. I found it to be the Mother of All Disaster Movie Cliches, and not in a good way. This is the most idiotic movie of the year.

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COMMENTS(21)
 
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Jonas said on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 5:20:26 AM
Yeah, Hawaii didn't bode well in this movie. It just sort of exploded lava and then sank away. But I ttaloly agree about Better Off Dead, love me some Cusack. But Must Love Dogs is where I draw the line.

Michael Dauria said on Friday, June 25, 2010 1:04:15 PM
Hey Richard I gotta give my credits to you because you have the rights to tell everyone about this movie 2012.I used to believe that the world was coming to an end.But i dont beleive it anymore that is just the myth to prove that the world was really coming to an end.Even though i havent seen the film and I dont think i dont want to see the film.I gotta give credits to Roland Emmerich he does stuff pretty well like Independence Day,Godzilla & The Day After Tomorrow those are my favorite movies from Roland.But this film doesnt work for me.Wasnt intrested wasnt excited about it at all.Transformers Revenge of The Fallen & XXX State of the Union on the otherhand those two films i just mentioned they are alot better than 2012.Do you agreed with me or not?

Adrian said on Monday, April 05, 2010 3:32:19 PM
Since when do we critique films based on what we predict the audience expects? I agree, Ebert is losing his touch/mind...this film's lousy execution and thrown-together script doesn't justify a moment of cgi mindlessness. I have never wanted the world to hurry up and end so soon.

jasmin said on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 5:19:16 AM
it is the end of the world........

JOHN said on Thursday, December 24, 2009 1:18:41 AM
WHEN IT COMES TO 2012 BOY DO I AGREE WITH YOU RICHARD THIS MOVIE 2012 BY ROLAND EMMERICH ITS RATHER DUMB AND IT GIVE EVERYONE A HEADACHE BECAUSE OF ITS NOISE AND SHOWCASING THAT THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END ON DECEMBER 21 2012 ? TWO WORDS YEAH RIGHT! THE REAL QUESTION IS DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT ROLAND EMMERICH SAYS NO OF COURSE YOU DON'T AND NETHER DO I THIS MOVIE IS WORTH 2 STARS.

Richard said on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 7:02:59 AM
Ernie:
I get what you're saying--but as I said in my review, the cliches are handled in the most idiotic manner imaginable. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, it's not what a movie is about, it's how it goes about telling the story. "2012" is dull, unfunny, loud, obnoxious and boring
Cheers,
Richard

Angeline C said on Monday, December 21, 2009 8:20:53 AM
Great review. Horrible movie.
Couldn't wait for the movie to end and wished they would just kill off the main character or his family.
The idea of 2012 isn't bad but the plot sucks big time :(

Ernie Truman said on Saturday, December 19, 2009 5:17:16 AM
My gripe with the review is not with its accuracy but with its obvious point-of-view. We know this going in, and so do you. Tell us something we don't know. Cliche'? Yes. But this genre is cliche'. When you know this fact, the only reason to see this movie is to appreciate how good it looks when it does what it is meant to do. With this movie, citics are useless when telling us its faults. The reviews read as lazy cliches themselves. Don't review it. See it if you want destruction, skip if you don't. That simple.

Ernie Truman said on Saturday, December 19, 2009 4:32:46 AM
Wow, Richard! Don't hold back, tell us what you really think. I read your review and I gotta say that every critique of this movie is, in a way, the reason you go to see a movie like this. This isn't something you enter with real questions and concerns of the End Of The World. It merely serves as an outlet to our paranoid concerns of just how that end will come and how scary it will look. What it means is not important and therefore it is supposed to be stupid, mindless fun. And it is. If you attended a screening or bought a ticket then you willingly put yourself up for what we all knew wasn't going to be heaviest movie of the year. As for the cruelty you mentioned, that's another one of those obvious critiques I'm surprised to hear you make. This movie is about being hard, ugly and violent. It's not about catching people and events at their best but rather shamelessly exploiting them at their worst. The end of the world is not a pretty sight and that is what attracts its viewers. The mere fact of computer generated effects only makes this avenue of chaos and destruction more enticing because we never see flesh and blood characters meet their ends. It's another way of watching things go to shit without having any of the blood on our hands. If you thought it was rather cruel to see people die the way they did, then you cared far more about the characters then I think you would ever admit. I didn't. They were created to die the way they did and served no other purpose. I'm surprised any of them survived. Oh, and Woody Harrelson deserves a razzie for that performance and should display it on his mantle with a sense of pride. Not because his performance was bad, but because it was so bad it was entertaining and fun. He should get something for that. He knew what he was doing with that performance.

Neph said on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:16:50 PM
This review actually seems spot on. Though, I don't see how Roeper's comments are illogical. Someone should take a class in debate and logic~

Either way, not here to stir up conflict. Just to throw in my two cents at this HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE MOVIE.

 
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