PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language.
Action/Adventure, Science Fiction
Nov. 13, 2009
John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson
Sony Pictures Releasing
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By Hannah Goodwyn
- Known for his disaster movies, director Roland Emmerich creates a picture of the world’s future when it’s all said and done in his latest film, 2012. According to the movie, the Mayan calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012, predicting that the world will end in environmental chaos on that day.
Designed to be a doomsday thriller, 2012 is more of a disaster than a success. The weak story drowns out its spectacular special effects. To say that it was not entertaining is an understatement; the constant presence of digitally-created death and destruction, foul language, and sarcasm toward faith makes it unlikable.
The Movie in a Minute
Mayan predictions seem to be coming true as scientists discover that the Sun is heating up the Earth’s core to a cataclysmic degree. Jackson Curtis, a divorced, unreliable dad, stumbles upon the U.S. government’s top secret testing facility and a conspiracy-theorist living in the woods of Yellowstone National Park. With the world in the dark about what’s going on, catastrophic natural disasters maim the planet, resulting in the deaths of millions. As the world shifts toward its inevitable end, Curtis’ and his family, along with the chosen few, struggle to find safety before it’s too late.
Where It All Falls Part
Emmerich’s digital effects team crafted a world in utter chaos. Some of the visuals literally take your breath away – streets and buildings being easily split in two, volcanoes erupting spontaneously, and tsunamis washing away whole cities. Supposedly, neutrinos from the Sun have heated up the Earth's core causing it to break down. Earth Crust Displacement results as land masses begin to shift.
Unfortunately, the outstanding special effects go a little too far. A few of the totally unbelievable shots are border-line silly. At one point, Curtis’ plane flies sideways through crumbling buildings as California falls apart just before sliding into the Pacific Ocean. As Curtis miraculously outruns Yellowstone’s super volcano, the back of his RV is blown off, leaving a fiery frame. After surviving that ordeal, he falls into a fault that should have consumed him. Yet, just moments later, his hand reaches out of the abyss and he pulls himself to safety. And all of this happens within the first half of the movie.
Beyond the fantastic, yet overdone, special effects, 2012 doesn’t have much going for it. The story is a bit weak and too predictable. A broken family finds the will to love again after a traumatic turn of events pushes them to realize they need each other. Even more than that, the story takes a turn for the worse when even as millions are dying, a dog is saved. Animals and works of art are carried on board the “arks” to safety. It’s also not exactly clear why we should focus on and care about Curtis’ family while so many others are carelessly tossed around by tidal waves and earthquakes. Speaking purely on entertainment value, this movie could have been stronger with a more significant character in the lead, like the scientist who initially warned the U.S. government, Dr. Adrian Helmsley. Even his part is flawed given his “let’s have a heart for humanity” speech as the tsunami barrels down on them. Having the ex-husband and wife passionately kiss minutes after her boyfriend dies also was a poor choice.
Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of the conspiracy theorist is admirable. He fits the character perfectly. The acting offered by John Cusack and others is acceptable, but not memorable. The underscoring tone of the film includes a hint of sarcasm toward the Christian faith. Christian monuments topple over, as an Islamic place of worship is spared. Those who turn to prayer, specifically the U.S. President and the Italian Prime Minister, are tainted with sarcastic comments.
In the End
The weak story, less than remarkable characters, and use of profanity and obscenity make this a movie unworthy of your time and money. Although Oliver Platt’s character illustrates the danger of selfishness, 2012 doesn’t deliver a redemptive message. It’s sad, but even with the intense special effects, watching people fall to their deaths and the world fall apart got a little boring. Based on absurd “predictions” that the Mayans didn’t even necessarily agree with, 2012 falters, landing it into the “empty bowl” category.
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Hannah Goodwyn didn't enjoy seeing millions of people plummet to their deaths as the Earth swallowed them up. Two and a half hours of 2012's utter destruction was not entertaining.
Hannah is CBN.com's Family and Entertainment producer. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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