(*No spoilers, except that everything blows up)
Ever since aliens came down to visit us on July 4th, the world and our safety has never been the same. Roland Emmerich’s signature destruction genre is back to strike fear into the human race once again. Emmerich has brought over a decade of destruction with popcorn flicks like Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Day After Tomorrow. At the San Diego Comic Con, Emmerich was justifiably asked ‘why do you hate us so much?’. Well if he hated us in his past films, he down right loathed us in this one.
To start, 2012 introduces a handful of characters just to explain the fact that the Earth’s core is heating up and will eventually lead to its destruction. There is about 30 minutes of intros of stock characters for example; the likeable ex husband hero, the misunderstood but often right scientist, the honorable President, the selfish billionaire, and the list goes on and on. However, the most interesting character in this film is mother Earth herself.
Once the fireworks begin it is nothing short of being epic. Emmerich out did himself with this level of massive, cataclysmic annihilation that makes you feel so good and so bad at the same time. It was hard to wrap my head around the scale of destruction depicted in some scenes. My only complaint is that 2012 was not offered in IMAX which is an absolute tragedy. Graphics and effects were so astounding that it physically caused my mouth to open and jaw to drop. It was insane. While being horrific, it stayed well within the PG-13 rating being careful not to show children dying or too much suffering. I don’t think anyone could stomach an R rated version.
Characters are just there to serve as plot devices- we have to save ‘so-and-so’ and ‘joe blow’ can save us, bla bla. Those characters do not expecting much out of us so we shouldn’t expect much out of them. At least they were not as ‘cartoon-ish’ as in Independence Day.
The first 2/3rd of the film is fairly enjoyable. The last third takes a very mediocre turn as it attempts a resolution that can pass as viable. It becomes a different film and a poor one at that. It’s Hollywood to the max and not surprising as an Emmerich creation. There is one scene where the African-American president watches as a US aircraft carrier is being flung at both he and the Whitehouse- subtlety was never Emmerich’s strong suit.
The film concludes on an interesting note. It’s not really a twist but there is a message there that I found unexpected and positive. So I don’t want to spoil it but Roland, I have to bless you with a ‘two chest thumps and a peace sign’ for it. It is a little piece of poetic justice in this upside down world we live in.
2012 is a pretty bad film that is pretty good. It’s the epitome of ‘popcorn flick’ at its finest. Lower expectations and suspend disbelief and you will have a great time.