Roland Emmerich, the director who brought us Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, announced that 2012 would be his final disaster movie.
And boy, did he go out with a bang.
The movie follows writer Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), who becomes privy to some information by conspiracy theorist Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson, Zombieland). His “Apocalypse for Dummies” comedic Flash cartoon visually explains to our home-viewing audience that a solar eruption is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise quickly and the crust is destabilizing.
Curtis then races against nature, and all odds, to get his family to safety.
Things we liked about the movie:
1. Disaster movies are Emmerich’s bread and butter, and he has definitely perfected his art with 2012. The escape from Los Angeles is among the most intense few moments we’ve ever spent in the movie theater. Emmerich doesn’t hide behind a shaky cam or quick cuts, but rather lets the wide shots of destruction linger to let the audience drink in the chaos.
2. The all-star cast is solid. Cusack and Amanda Peet (who were also both in Martian Child and Identity) are believable both as a separated couple and as parents desperate to keep their children safe. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Redbelt) keeps humanity intact in more ways than one as the righteous geologist, and Thandie Newton (W.), Oliver Platt (Frost/Nixon) and Danny Glover (Dreamgirls) also bring great performances to the table.
Things we disliked about the movie:
1. The film could’ve been easily 20 minutes shorter by cutting out some minor characters’ side plots that served no purpose, such as the jazz musicians on the cruise ship.
2. We don’t like that the movie is perpetuating the public’s concern that there is scientific legitimacy to the Mayan calendar myth. NASA even had to issue a press release debunking these claims, stating, “Credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”
3. Another problem we had with pinning itself down to that specific date a mere three years from now, is this movie has given itself a very short shelf life of coolness. We suspect no one will care about it in 2013.
All in all, 2012 literally made our hearts pound from its intense moments, but it’s important to remember that at the end of the day it’s a work of fiction, not a warning.