Joel Schumacher’s film is a literal telling of Nick McDonnell’s 2002 book, to the point where you honestly might as well be reading as opposed to watching. The narration is so constant and overpowering it might as well be an audio book. The script attempts to turn all the exposition found on the written page in to something lyrical and meaningful, but even with Kiefer Sutherland’s soothing tone behind it, the narration is just dull, tiresome and even unintentionally funny in places (i.e. hearing Jack Bauer talk teen sex). This style makes the movie feel much longer than it is and proves that techniques that work well in books, don’t necessarily translate the same in film. (Talking teddy bears, really?) I’ll give Schumacher credit for trying something different, but won’t forgive him for aspiring beyond his talents..
The actual content doesn't help matters much either, presenting us with the same boring story of rich disaffected white kids trying to cope with their problems. If you're familiar with Bret Easton Ellis novels or adapted film than you've seen this subject matter handled much better. (In fact, Roger Avary's RULES OF ATTRACTION portrays the style and substance of its novel in a much more experimental, exciting and effective way than TWELVE ever does.) The main issue here is that none of characters are relatable. It's really cliché how spoiled, blasé and self-indulgent everyone is portrayed. The whole thing comes across like a bad episode of "Gossip Girl," which is ironic since TWELVE shares the show's star Chace Crawford as the lead. Joining him are a bunch of young up and comers including Emma Roberts and Rory Culkin (the little kid from SIGNS), as well as small roles from experienced thespians like Ellen Barker and 50 Cent. There's some decent acting on display by some of the performers, but it's all for nothing since you don't care or find any of these people interesting.
I get the feeling that Schumacher was trying really hard to make a David Fincher movie, with heavy stylized segments, gritty filmmaking and dark subject matter. And while the ending is indeed surprisingly eventful and violent, it doesn't translate to anything emotional. In fact, many of the film's threads are left unsatisfied, which is compounded by the fact that none of them were that important anyways. You'd think the overall plot of the movie would be the murder mystery involving the main character, but that gets even less screen time than subplot about a hot girl planning her birthday party. So all you're left with after TWELVE ends is a hatred for all the characters and pretty much everything they stood for.
Extra Tidbit: Nick McDonell was only 17 when he wrote the original novel.