Friday, November 13, 2009


I didn't expect much from director Roland Emmerich's latest disaster flick other than a little dumb fun. "2012" couldn't even deliver that.

What follows is a short, and hopefully concise, review for a long, and depressingly boring, film (158-minute running time) that is about as almost as much fun as spending three hours alone in a doctor's waiting room.

Maybe it was asking too much of Emmerich to give us another big disaster flick and distinguish it at all from any of his previous ones (after all, it's not like "10,000 B.C." did anyone any favors). The man who gave us "Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow," and that woeful "Godzilla" remake, it seems, has nothing new to share. Instead he brings back the same tired storylines, with new actors and larger special effects, in hopes that this alone will be enough to satisfy. It's not.

We're given: The workaholic dad (John Cusack) who we know will take this opportunity to make things up to his estranged wife (Amanda Peet) and cute kids (Liam James, Morgan Lily). The noble scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is constantly surprised and thwarted by the government bureaucrat (Oliver Platt) in his attempt to do the right thing. And don't forget the strong woman with a heart of gold (Thandie Newton) who will no doubt fall for him.

Sadly the special effects, though impressive in the scale and level of destruction, can't save this sinking ship either. The film delivers none of the fun that "disaster porn" should provide. The morose cloud which hangs over the picture takes away any and all enjoyment to be had from the wanton destruction of the planet.

And do we really need to see the White House destroyed again? Even if Emmerich's new method of throwing an aircraft carrier at it is different, the result is the same. Been there, done that.

For all its boasts, "2012" is mostly a tease. We are forced to wait 40 minutes before the real destruction gets started. Then the script does its best to keep interrupting these moments of chaos with canned emotional scenes between the characters (who have just narrowly escaped disaster, again).

The only one here having any fun at all is Woody Harrelson as a crazy conspiracy nut who smartly (given the script) commits suicide at the first possible moment to get out of this dreadful bore of a film. He's the lucky one.

Emmerich wastes talented actors I normally like, even those I like in bad movies (I'd much rather sit through a double-header of "A Lot Like Love" and "America's Sweethearts" than sit through "2012" again), but this lifeless bore delivers nothing. The film lacks the thrill of "Armageddon," the campy fun of "The Core," the patriotic jauntiness of "Independence Day," or even the cheesy B-movie charm of "The Day After Tomorrow."

I didn't actively hate "2012". It didn't make me angry or want to throw something at the screen. All it really made me do was want to take a nap. I wasn't rooting for the nature to kill off these characters, but I didn't exactly care what happened to them either. The latest disaster movie is just that, a disaster (and a pretty boring one at that).

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