REVIEW: 2012

21 11 2009

Director Roland Emmerich gets a lot of grief for making so many disaster-oriented movies.  I must say I’m glad that he doesn’t listen to these critics because he is the best there is at making these kinds of films.  “2012,” his latest project, is incredibly stimulating to the part of you that loves watching your favorite landmarks get wiped off the face of the planet.  Many claim that it doesn’t offer much that you haven’t seen in Emmerich’s previous movies in the same vain, “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow.”  However, I thought “2012” was much more audacious, willing to destroy some venerated structures such as St. Peter’s Basilica, Christ the Redeemer, and the White House.  By doing this, Emmerich introduces some apprehension into the moviegoing experience and makes you wonder what the apocalypse would really look like.

The highlight of “2012” is its phenomenal special effects, but Emmerich had the good sense not to let them drive the movie.  He gets two angles on the catastrophe that the Mayans predicted, one from a normal citizens experiencing the disaster and the other from the politicians and scientists trying to save humanity.  The normal citizen is Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a sci-fi writer thrown into the situation after consistently being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  With the aid of an eccentric who sees the writing on the walls (Woody Harrelson), he finds a path to save his family from the imminent destruction.  The scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and politician (Oliver Platt) add a moral depth to the the plot as they agonize over who can and should be saved.

What distinguishes “2012” from a movie like “Transformers” is a clear understanding that its audience doesn’t take the movie too seriously.  Thankfully, Emmerich is aware of the regard that people hold his movies in, so he has no qualms with using a formulaic plot and being a tad silly.  He also knows from experience not to try to move the plot significantly while he indulges us with sweeping, gratuitous shots of the Earth getting annihilated by tsunamis and earthquakes.  Emmerich recognizes that it is undeniably fun to watch Pasadena split in two, and he lets us marvel at the work of some dedicated visual effects artists.  “2012” is no masterpiece, but Roland Emmerich gives us an enjoyable cataclysmic romp that excites the lover of destruction that lurks inside all of us.  B /

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