This is one of those films I dragged my wife out to see because I’m a huge fan of science fiction, apocalypse, end-of-the-world type movies (she’s not). And, in a very rare instance, she admitted I was right. It’s a great movie.
Overall, the movie 2012 is well done. Unlike many news reports as of late, this film doesn’t focus on the Mayan calendar (it’s only mentioned a few times, and mostly in the background). It focuses on a somewhat believable scientific event that changes the course of the world and forces humanity’s governments to make difficult decisions.
Led by an expert cast (John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson, and more), 2012’s story begins when scientists discover that neutrinos from a huge solar flare are heating the Earth’s core like a microwave oven and will soon cause a global catastrophe (shifting tectonic plates, tidal waves, etc.)
When this information comes to the attention of high-ranking government officials, they secretly begin work on a project to protect the future of the human race, though they know that not everyone can be saved.
There was more pre-disaster story than I expected, based on the previews, but the story quickly moves from character introduction to the really good stuff. Like any good disaster movie, 2012 draws the viewer inexorably toward huge explosions and mass destruction.
The cinematography relies heavily on CGI, which is to be expected, but the computer-generated action is powerfully and realistically presented. Some of it is recognizable as CGI only because the viewer knows it couldn’t have been filmed any other way — it looks realistic.
Though the action is almost non-stop, the film does pause occasionally to show the very real impact such an event would have on real people, and how those people would cope with the knowledge that the world could be coming to an end.
Don’t expect in-depth character development or a very strong moral lesson; it’s not that kind of story. It’s what I call a “What if?” story. It takes a basic premise and explores what would happen, given a few early assumptions.
I took points off for a few unrealistic timing sequences. For instance (small spoiler alert), when Cusack and his family are rushing to the airport to catch a small plane, and the Earth’s devastation is following them, they are able to warm up the twin-engine craft and take off in a matter of seconds. Unlike a car, you can’t just turn on an airplane and fly away. The same mistake is repeated a couple of other times in the movie, and it bothered me as a technical person, knowing that such a thing would have been impossible.
The ending also seemed a little weak, but I couldn’t really think of anything better without lengthening an already long movie. I won’t spoil it for you; it’s worth seeing for yourself.
Conclusion: If you like big-budget CGI destruction and fast-paced end-of-the-world action on an epic scale, check this movie out. It’s a heck of a ride.
(for intense disaster sequences and some language)
(Note: “some language” includes the F-word, which is rare in PG-13 movies)
Length: 158 min. (2:38)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Genre: action / sci-fi / drama / thriller
My Rating: 9 of 10
John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Thomas McCarthy, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover