Entertainment » Movies


by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Nov 13, 2009
John Cusack and Woody Harrelson in "2012"
John Cusack and Woody Harrelson in "2012"  

Roland Emmerich movies are like gay twinks: not too bright, but a lot of fun after the sun goes down. Audiences should be used to this; after all, Emmerich is the guy who brought us "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow." He hardly excels at character development, subtle exposition, or even plots that remain grounded in this plane of reality.

But the guy really, really knows how to blow shit up.

In those recent catastrophe films I mentioned, Emmerich toyed with the destruction of the Earth - first via alien attack, and then via global warming. The results included wide-scale destruction of major cities (only really big ones, of course - and international cities that aren't in France and don't start with the letter P don't count), the disintegration of world monuments (as many as possible, and as creatively as possible), lots of explosions, huge amounts of ice floes, and the coming together of families while the rest of the world blows apart. Clearly, we've kept the family unit subplot in "2012" but such irresolute, pusillanimous scales of world calamity must be topped: this time around, the sun itself is heating the Earth's inner core (somehow), resulting in a planet that doesn't just experience a little bit of tumult like earthquakes on the middling of the Richter scale (you know, like 7s or 8s) or small Tsunamis (you know, like the kind that only wipe out a single continent). This time, Emmerich is out for blood.

In the center of the drama lies the broken family of author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), his estranged wife Kate (Amanda Peet), their two whelps (some kids) and the new man in Kate's life, geek-pilot-turned-plastic-surgeon Gordon Silberman (Tom McCarthy). On the other end of the disaster is the US President (Danny Glover), nasty-staffer-chief Carl Anhauser (Oliver Platt) and Chief Science Advisor Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor). And Woody Harrelson makes a fabulous, colorful, type-cast appearance as an end-of-the-world nutjob. The acting caliber is not bad at all, given all the scenery they're forced to chew during the imminent end of the planet. But frankly, acting is not what we've come here to see. We came here to see the USS John F. Kennedy smash into the White House on the leading edge of the biggest Tsunami anyone has ever seen, as predicted by the Mayans to occur on December 12, 2012 (although I'm pretty sure they didn't predict that specifically).

And while it may seem as if I'm mocking the film (true), you might come to the conclusion that I didn't much like it (false). 2012 is simply the most fun you'll have in the cinema this year since the early blockbusters of the summer. Nobody kicks the earth in the nads like Emmerich, and he's in fine top form here. The increasing heat of the Earth's core, you see, forces the tectonic plates to roam freely across its molten substructure - and when that happens, it's kind of bad. So bad, in fact, that the survival plan doesn't include fighting back or holing up to survive; something far more, well, Biblical is required to continue the race. And Emmerich throws $250 million worth of Armageddon at the screen: impressive, eminently entertaining effects that'll make you cringe while you cheer at the tongue-in-cheek subtleties of the devastation (of course some are not-so-subtle, as when the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel sports a crack directly between the fingers of God and Adam).

The result? With the exception of a few forced action sequences that could have helped shave some time off the 2 ½ hour running time, this is a big, fun romp of a movie. And it doesn't require the Mayans to predict the outcome: a big box-office success.



Runtime :: 158 mins
Release Date :: Nov 13, 2009
Language :: English
Country :: United States

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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