On December 21, 2012, the world as we know it is going to end. Based on the ancient Mayan calendar, this "real world" doomsday prophecy is picking up a lot of exposure lately as the date slowly creeps up on us.
The movie 2012 uses this date has an excuse to make the ultimate disaster film. Disaster film guru Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, Independence Day) has created a masterpiece of destruction on celluloid. The result is nothing short of spectacular, both visually and viscerally, and makes for the perfect popcorn flick. It’s great to watch, but falls apart when you think about it too much.
The film is divided by two stories. The first is that of Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a failed writer and failed family man working as a limo driver. As the city starts to fall apart around him (literally) he risks everything to rescue his ex-wife and his children and try to keep them alive as long as possible. The second is the story of Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor, using a near flawless American accent), a geologist working for the White House who discovers that the Earth is slowing destroying itself. His story centers around how the government reacts to this crisis, and also tries to explain the science behind what is happening.
You see, on the titular date the planets will align which will cause harmful Sun activity. This activity somehow causes the Earth's core to heat up and thus forces the Earth’s continents to shift. This shifting causes all the destruction that the film centers around. Of course, how planets aligning affects the Sun, or how the Sun affects the Earth's core, or even how the Ancient Mayans knew about this impending doom (right down to the exact day no less) is never explained.
Anyways, the stories around these characters are great quiet moments amidst all the grand-scale chaos. The ancillary characters that surround them are the normal mixture for a movie of this type. They are a simple batch of the unlikeable and the quirky who all have some usefulness, and are unceremoniously killed off, then if they're lucky they'll get a brief scene for others to grieve, then they're never mentioned again (the only exception to this rule are animals and children, both of whom inexplicably escape harm at all turns). And then everyone moves on to the next point of epic carnage.
And when I say epic... I mean epic! The cataclysmic destruction of our planet and the cities is beautiful to behold. 2012 packs in every single disaster into one film; Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, nautical, any place disaster could strike and in any way it could happen, happens here. And boy is it fun to watch. Whole cities crumble in glorious detail. Sky scrappers break apart in slow motion sequences where can you see every person and every piece of office furniture as they go to their doom. A major national park becomes the unwitting victim of a very large volcanic eruption. Even Washington D.C. is not free from the tsunami to end all tsunamis. Every minute detail is crafted with loving care, and by loving care, I'm talking about the death of several billion people on the planet.
Despite some rather questionable science, and the usual where characters literally outlive their usefulness, 2012 is wonderful to watch. If you grew up on Irwin Allen's disaster films, this flick will knock your socks off!