It’s 2009, and scientist Adrian Helmsley learns that volatile solar flare activity from the Sun is causing the Earth’s core to rapidly heat up. A process which will cause natural disasters around the world on a biblical scale. He informs the Whitehouse who, along with other world leaders, develop a top secret plan to save mankind on a bunch of massive ships, referred to as ‘arks’.
Curtis Jackson (John Cusack) is a published sci-fi author (albeit only having sold about 400 copies), who is currently driving a limo for Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov (Zlatko Buric) to make ends meet. On a weekend camping trip with his 2 kids to Yellowstone National Park, they start to see a lot of military activity in the area, and strange geological events. Whilst there, Jackson meets Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson), who tells him the world would come to an end in 2012, as predicted by the Mayan’s, and the geological events are the start of it… He also informs him of the plan to save those important to mankind (and those that can pay), by boarding them in massive spaceships.
Around the world, the seismic activity begins to worsen, and the race is on for Jackson to save his kids, his ex-wife (and her boyfriend) as they try to escape the devastation, and reach the fabled ‘arks’.
I’d heard mixed things about 2012 (aka Roland Emmerich destroys the world… again). Thankfully, it was no where near as bad as i feared it would be (althought I had set my expectations pretty low). Sure, the story isn’t great, but then if Avatar proved anything, it’s that you don’t need a decent story to make a film entertaining! It also helps i’m a massive John Cusack fan, so I find him watchable in pretty much anything.
The characters are crafted straight out of ‘How To Write A Hollywood Blockbuster for Dummies’ book. You have John Cusack – relatable leading man, and Amanda Peet – ex-wife love interest that hates (but really still loves) him. Danny Glover – the president with integrity, Oliver Platt – the evil politician, Chiwetel Ejiofor – a scientist with a heart, Thandie Newton – hot love interest for the scientist, Woody Harrelson – crazy stoner (nice to see Woody stretching his range…) and a number of other cookie cutter character types.
The whole film is a step by step guide to making a disater movie. 1. Blow something up. 2. Hero escapes in nick of time. 3. Kill a character. 4. Go to 1 (repeat as needed). I think Emmerich must have drawn up a list of ‘stuff that would look cool being destroyed’. Then, handed it to the CGI guys (who, to be fair, made some impressive results), and said ‘think up some interesting ways to blow this lot up’. It’s the only reason i can think of for having the destruction of the sistine chapel in the movie, which was crowbarred in using the excuse that the Italian prime minister was going to stay with his people, and not come to the arks with the other world leaders. That made me laugh more than I think it was intended to. The thought that Berlusconi would go down with his ship rather than save his own skin did make me chuckle.
Overall, I did enjoy 2012. It’s silly, over the top, and utterly ridiculous, but it’s fun Friday/Saturday night ‘take your brain out and let the tidal waves wash over you’ material.