2012 (2009)

2012 (2009) Dir: Roland Emmerich Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofar, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson. Released nationwide in cinemas November 13th 2009

Maybe we should cancel the 2012 Olympics!?!

That’s if director Roland Emmerich’s diabolical predictions come to fruition in his latest end of days blockbuster 2012 are to be believed! However unlike most Hollywood disaster epics this film has a long way to go insofar as convincing the world that this will actually happen. If you are a stickler for scientific accuracy in your films 2012 will not make for very comfortable viewing. Take past disaster films from the past say Armageddon or Deep Impact for instance. Giant asteroid/comet is heading for planet and threatens to wipe out life as we know it. Simple! Or Titanic. Large ocean liner hits iceberg and sinks. Easy! In 2012 it’s neutrino emissions from the sun heating up the inside of the earth like an egg in a microwave causing gaping fissures in the planet’s crust swallowing everything and causing massive tidal waves, earthquakes and a shift in the polar magnetic fields. Confused? Don’t panic. There is a simple flash animation during the movie that fills you in on all the jargon.

Rest assured, once you get over rubbing your head in your hands over the sheer ridiculousness of the plot  you are in for a visual smorgasbord of special effects that will blow you away. Given Roland Emmerich’s track record with films such as Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, this is a director who really knows how to destroy the world. One can compare him to a child with a lego set building vast cities and monuments only to destroy them with his fists. What sets the SFX apart from previous endeavours is the sheer scale and detail (which in part was helped by the pushing back of the films release date from the summer to the winter). One scene in particular has our protagonists flying through the toppling skyscrapers of Los Angeles only for them to look in slow mo horror at the masses of office workers clinging on to their desks as they fall from the building. And the wow factor does not stop there. With volcanic eruptions, showering fireballs, floods and earthquakes 2012 takes on each mode of destruction to another level. This movies effects team will certainly be looking at an Academy Award Nomination for their stunning efforts but it seems likely that Jim Cameron’s upcoming Avatar will be the bookies favourite given the hype behind the new 3D and camera technology behind the scenes.

So where do all these apocalyptic visions come from? Should we be making plans to build underground bunkers and life rafts in order to survive? According to some doomsday prophets the answer is yes and that the end has been written in the stone tablets of history since the dawn of time. According to the ancient Mayan calendar, which was renowned for its astrological accuracy, 2012 is when time will literally run out This rather chilling prospect has been taken apart by numerologists, astrologists and physicists over the years. One such scholar, John Major Jenkins, has been described by the New York Times as “applying academic rigour” to such theories and has proved that the calendar has indeed predicted astrological alignments that “metaphorically” symbolise a great change for the earth. The internet is also awash with conspiracy theories and predictions on the specific date the world is apparently going to end (21/12/2012 to be precise) so do be prepared to wade through a load of claptrap amid your Armageddon preparations.  Please bear in mind the Y2K events of 2000 and how that turned out least you want to lose any sleep at night.

Oh yes! This film has a plot as well!  Central to the human element of the story that experiences the end of the world is Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a writer whose devotion to his failed but possibly brilliant novel broke up his marriage and left his family in flux. But Jackson remains a loyal dad and he will prove anything to save his family. As LA has as new backside torn into it Jackson and his family will begin a desperate journey over land, sea and air in order to survive.

Meanwhile the world’s leaders (all reduced to Hollywood clichés) argue and debate over the fate of the planet. President Wilson (Danny Glover) knows that he will not be able to save everyone and along with his science advisors come up with a plan to save a few. The plan is to build a dozen ‘arks,’ giant super ships, built by the Chinese and financed by the G8 countries that will be mankind’s only way to survive the world wide floods. The only person outside the government who realises what is going on is crackpot Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson) who brings comic relief to the film by making his zany predictions via a radio transmitter in his motor home.

Hollywood has done pretty much all it can to destroy life as we know it and frankly it’s running out of ideas. 2012 is a pretty standard fare when it comes to disaster movies with it’s ridiculous over the top god bless America approach to everything. But silly as it may seem on the surface you will have fun watching this movie on the big screen. The science behind it may not hold much water but who really cares when it come to watching entire cities fall into the sea. It’s a fantastic salute to what special effects can achieve in this day in age as well as being a welcome original screenplay amidst the plethora of sequels, remakes and adaptations. Buy the ticket and take the ride. Oh and don’t forget to take swimming lessons in the next three years if you need them. You’ll thank me when the time comes!

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