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Movie Review: 2012 (November, 2009)

Director: Roland Emmerich
Screenplay: Roland Emmerich, pilule Harald Kloser
Release Date: November 13, more 2009
Actors: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Thomas McCarthy, Morgan Lily, Liam James, and many more.

2012 is a movie that focuses on the day the Mayan calendar ends – December 21, 2012, the day many people believe in which is the end of the world as we know it. The idea they explore as being the cause of the devastation is either due to a huge solar flare or due to the alignment of the solar system (I am not fully clear), causing the earth’s core to heat up thus causing ‘earth crust displacement’. The poles of the earth switch. Many of these ideas have been explored as what might cause the end of the human race on many web sites, so I will not go into them here. After all, this is just a movie review and not a lesson in science.

Warning: First and foremost, there are some spoilers in this review, so please read on of your own accord.

2012 contains a very large cast, with Danny Glover playing a very noble, honorable and likable President of the United States and Thandie Newton being his beautiful daughter. The second hand man is the Chief Scientist to the President of the United States, who is the voice of reason, thanks to an amazing performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor. And of course, there is the actor whom we always love to root for – John Cusack, who plays Jackson Curtis, a writer who wrote a book about an apocalypse, but who also is the divorced husband of Kate Curtis (Amanda Peet) and father of a son and a daughter.

From the moment the movie begins, a suspension of belief is required. 2012 is not meant to be a deep, thoughtful film, nor is it expected to have the best script or the best acting. But what 2012 does successfully is entertain, and that’s all I expected going into the film. It entertained, created tension, brought on emotions of fear, laughter, sadness and loss all at once.

The Curtis family, including Kate’s new husband Gordon (Thomas McCarthy), is on the run the minute catastrophe hits California. They encounter one difficult scenario after another, their one destination being: China. In the year 2010, the People of China were commissioned to build “ships” that were sanctioned by G-8 as a safe haven for 400,000 people. Spots for the “ship” were either bought by upper class members who could afford 1 billion Euros, or were important politicians and staff.

Intertwined between the spectacular computer effects, from the billowing smoke in one scene to the damaging earthquakes in the next, are stories of humanity displayed from all the characters except for the two antagonists of Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt), who plays the unfeeling Chief of Staff, and Yuri Karpov (Zlatko Buric) who is one of the people who paid 1 billion euros for his place in the future of the human race. There were many points in the film where you could feel the tension build and you were never sure whether or not the characters involved would make it out alive. The film also explores the different choices and scenarios one might face in the wake of disaster, especially if you are one of the lucky few who had a spot on the ship. From connecting with loved ones, to being unable to connect to loved ones in time, to protecting only yourself with little regard to others or protecting everyone when possible, to staying behind, in the midst of all the action, a small question remains: what would you do? While many other apocalyptic movies explore this idea, I felt 2012 wove the background of the different characters and what were happening to them in a such a way that it was not only enjoyable but effective. This time, there was no saving the world, so the focus was not on the actions of what a scientist was trying to do to save the world, but on a mixed number of reactions. The Day After Tomorrow (by the same director, Roland Emmerich) was a similar movie that mostly focused on the United States, but the questions of “what would you do?” seemed to escape the viewer . The only other movie that comes to mind that specifically dealt with human responses to the end of the human race is Last Night. The main difference being – in 2012, it’s a secret, in Last Night, everyone has known for some time that the world would come to the end and when. However, Last Night is a more realistic view, whilst 2012 is purely a ride.

The acting is actually quite decent (though a few lines were, in these movies, a bit cheesy), as one might come to expect from the likes of John Cusack, Danny Glove, Thandi Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor Woody Harrelson and many of the other talented actors involved with the film. The story, as expected, is far-fetched, only because of the ridiculous escapes from near death that the Curtis family continually encountered. Even then, even when you knew in your head Jackson Curtis was not going to die (mainly because it was too early on the film to debate his fate), the scenes were set up such that you were never sure. People in the audience were cheering whenever they survived a quick getaway, and you could hear people getting really invested in the survival of Jackson Curtis, which was both amusing and appreciative.

In regards to the story, I had a conflicting problem with the actions of the the officials in the movie – that the end of the world was to be a secret from the public. If they had told everyone, I would understand that worldwide panic would ensue, killings would occur, and looting would occur. But had they told everyone, they would have also been able to build more arks. Coming from a realistic standpoint though, this would be difficult to arrange. People would have to contribute much of their paycheck to the buildings of thearks to ensure they would get a place, but what about those that had no money? What then? Would they then set out, angry and disgruntled to destroy the arks? The location of the arks would have to be secret, but with building so many of them, that would be difficult. Then there would also be disbelievers, those who would have the funds, but would refuse a penny from their wallets because they did want to believe the end of the world was occurring. It would be chaos when the realization would set in. I would hope, in an idealistic point of view that humanity would win out and greed would be set aside, but that would be almost laughable.

So these are the types of questions that 2012 movie left me with as I walked out of the theatre. Clearly a blockbuster, with almost non-stop action, explosions, with a few dramatic and funny moments, which have been what we have come to expect out of a “the end is near” movie. But 2012 also manages to be very thought provoking, at least for me, and that is what makes the movie to be more than simply entertaining.

Bottom Line: If you go into this movie expecting a realistic movie, it would be better to leave the theatre immediately. However, if you walk into this movie knowing that 2012 IS a blockbuster type movie and leave your expectations of reality behind, you will enjoy this movie immensely. Let me know what you think about it afterwords!

After that, my question to you, is this: If you were to only save one object from the history of human race, what would you save and why?

Recommended, especially if you like disaster movies! 3 arks / 5 arks


3 thoughts on “Movie Review: 2012 (November, 2009)

  1. I think they were trying to say that the solar flare emitted a massive number of neutrinos that caused the earth's core to heat up too much, which then caused the polar shift. All of which is faulty, but hey, whatever floats their boat 😀

    I actually liked 2012 because I went in with low expectations. People shouldn't go to a blockbuster (especially a Roland Emmerich blockbuster!) expecting a believable plot or stellar acting, though some 2012 actors did a great job with the material they were given. I was looking to see a bombastic, oft ridiculous movie with a horrible script but fantastic special effects, and that is exactly what I got.

    Probably my chief complaint is that they dove into the action too quickly. It seemed like we had just been introduced to John Cusack's character when all hell broke loose. I liked the pacing better in Independence Day, where even though the alien presence was immediate, you at least got a chance to get settled in before they started blowing shit up.

    Anyway, I have to go grab lunch, so I'll comment on the rest when I get back. v^^

  2. Actually, before the world started ending, believe it or not, the movie running time was already at 45 minutes 🙂 I actually didn't feel like it was too fast getting introduced to Jackson Curtis, and believe it or not, I walked in with medium expectations. Expectations for a blockbuster though. It tends to be though, when I think that, I enjoy movies so much more. Like Transformers 2, people will now say I have the worst taste in movies ever, but I had fun. And that's what I thought about 2012. Come on, the world literally ends, it's the mother of all disaster movies, how could that NOT be fun? 😀

    Yeah, they confused me with the solar flare, because in Charlie's nice little flash video, the cause was the solar planets aligning (which would do absolutely no damage.. but anyway.. :D), but I guess it was his belief…

    Thanks for your comment 🙂

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