Monday, October 18, 2010


None of the science in 2012 (dir. Roland Emmerich, 2009) works, first of all. Logic doesn’t work either. I could offer explanation, but why bother? In this film, around a million people survive an incredible catastrophe that wipes out (apparently) all other life on the planet. They are so happy to be alive in the end that no one seems to have noticed the disappeared five billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million others. The supposed humanism of this film (one scene in particular strains to ensure we’re aware of it) is astoundingly smarmy. We are asked to feel somber and meditative as we see numerous scenes of people waiting to die and then meeting their miserable fates in various cataclysms. In death, the film intones, we all are united, and never more so than when tidal waves, exploding volcanoes, the collapse of the earth’s mantle, and swarming neutrinos from the sun bring an end to it all. We see numerous images of people falling into endlessly deep cracks in the earth, of skyscrapers falling, of great monuments crumbling, of California sliding into the sea, of an air craft carrier crushing the White House. In one scene, a multitude is gathered in Vatican Square waiting for the End. The Sistine Chapel frescoes of Michelangelo crumble, and the dome of St. Peter’s itself falls and rolls around the square, squashing all the faithful gathered there. We follow the efforts of a failed writer and limousine driver as he tries to save himself, his ex-wife, their two children, and her new husband. Woody Harrelson (who looks amazingly like the Lt. Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle) appears in a small role as a nutcase Internet preacher of doom camped out at Yellowstone Park, waiting for the gigantic caldera there to blow. There are special effects everywhere, none especially impressive given what we have already seen in films like War of the Worlds (2005) and The Day after Tomorrow (2004). Mt. Everest has a role, and we are prodded to think about the Book of Genesis and Noah’s Ark. But at least there is tension (when is that tidal wave gonna wash over the Himalayas, and, hey, how about the obligatory last-minute, cliff-hanging suspense scene?). Supposedly, according to 2012, which cites Mayan prophecy and astrophysics all in the same sentence, this catastrophe, which causes the earth’s magnetic poles to shift and the continents to collapse and reform and all life to be wiped out, happens every six or seven hundred thousand years. Then life somehow regenerates--evolution sure does happen fast! Catastrophes on film are supposed to be heart-rending and entertaining—I could reel off a list a mile long, but, hey, why bother?

2012 is a yawner!

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