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Review: 2012

6 10

PLOT: A global catastrophe threatening to end the world, throws together a disparate group of survivors.

REVIEW: 2012 is exactly what the trailers make it look like- a bombastic disaster film that, like many of director Roland Emmerich's films, manages to be both wildly stupid, and entertaining- although a couple of his films (GODZILLA & 10,000 BC) didn't succeed in the latter.

This really is your quintessential, check your brain at the door type of film. If you're anything like me you'll be thoroughly entertained throughout, but hate yourself for liking it afterwards. I mean, really, what exactly is 2012? It's apocalypse porn, with a body count in the billions. Of course, like Emmerich's ID4, and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, you're only asked to identify with a small handful of survivors (you know, the ones who are movie stars like John Cusack), so the rest of the people seem like ants.

Obviously, Emmerich's got a thing for old school disaster flicks like THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE & THE TOWERING INFERNO, but here he's not just overturning a luxury liner, or burning down a high rise he's ending the world!!! It's clearly meant to be the disaster movie to end all disaster movies but, what keeps this from being completely successful is that they really overdue the fromage aspect of the film. All disaster flicks are entitled to a bit of cheese but they go overboard here.

There are at least two subplots that could have been dropped from the film, and prevented it from running an overly indulgent 158 minutes. I mean, do we really need George Segal as an old jazz-man on a luxury liner struggling to re-connect with his son before the world ends? Segal's an old pro (love the original FUN WITH DICK AND JANE) but his storyline is unbelievably corny, and the scene where he finally re-connects with his estranged son will more likely elicit laughter than tears. I also could have done without Cusack's clownishly evil Russian boss tagging along for two thirds of the film. He should have been killed off with his Paris Hilton-like mistress much earlier in the film but instead they become major characters.

As for the leads, John Cusack was fine as a father trying to save his estranged wife and kids, although I must admit that he was a tad bland. I like Cusack as much as anyone, but he's phoning it in here, and doesn't begin to compare to the classic Irving Allen disaster heroes of the seventies, like Gene Hackman in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, or Steve McQueen and Paul Newman in THE TOWERING INFERNO.

Of all the actors, the only two that really registered with me were Oliver Platt as the scheming Secretary of State who's the nominal antagonist, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the earnest scientist who's the first to discover that mankind is on the verge of extinction. Platt's always good, and even though the role is two-dimensional, he shines here nonetheless. As for Ejiofor, why isn't he a major star yet? The guy can do anything from play a convincing drag queen in KINKY BOOTS, to an intergalactic bounty hunter in SERENITY.

That said, 2012's not really a film about acting. It's all about the FX, and carnage and on that level, holy shit does this deliver. The sequence were California is destroyed is incredible (marred only by some stupid footage of an actor playing a caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger), and the money shot where Cusack flies through a couple of collapsing skyscrapers had me on the edge of my seat. The only problem here is that it happens too early in the film, and the last hour or so, spent on board the ships meant to save the human race, don't begin to compare with what we've already seen.

Essentially, if you liked the trailers for 2012, you'll enjoy the film. It's beyond stupid, but it's also a lot of fun, so if you like this type of thing, than by all means check it out. You'll probably have a great time just don't think about it too hard afterwards. Oh yeah, you might also want to bolt for the exit before the closing credits roll, so you can save yourself from hearing the atrocious Adam Lambert theme song.

RATING: 6.5/10





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