Reviewed by pjowens75
What is it about Roland Emmerich? Why is he so much fun to hate? Maybe it’s because there has to be an Irwin Allen in every movie generation. Irwin Allen is best known for his disaster movies, TOWERING INFERNO and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. And that’s what Roland Emmerich has become: this generation’s King of disaster flicks. I mean is there anyone out there who does the end of the world better than him? At least we know what to expect from one of his movies: great special effects, little logical story, and convenient forgettable characters. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we keep going back for the thrills, plain and simple. We want to sit back with our bag of popcorn and give our brains a rest for a couple of hours. And in 2012, we get what we paid for.
2012 is the ultimate disaster flick, based on several ancient civilizations predicting the end of the world, as we know it, on December 21, 2012. It seems that on that date, all the planets will line up, causing untold catastrophe. Well, at least according to the Mayans, anyway. Gotta hand it to those Mayans, they could see the writing on the wall. I mean, let’s face it, they got the hell outta Dodge a couple of thousand years ago. So what if they bugged out a little early? Better safe than sorry, I always say. And who better to show us exactly what catastrophes we’ll face than the King himself…the ultimate popcorn movie maker.
One of the things about Emmerich is that he always manages to get a couple of respectable actors in each of his films; actors of enough caliber that it leaves you scratching your head going “What the hell are they doing in here?” In this case it’s John Cusack as our hero, and Danny Glover as the President of the United States. But as you can guess, they are only there to add some dialog between each new earthquake, eruption, or tsunami. What story there is has Cusack trying to save his recently estranged wife and kids by stowing away on some gigantic secret ships the governments of the world have been building for just such an occasion. And that’s really all you need to know about the plot. Period. If you want a decent script, you’ve picked the wrong movie, dude.
Because 2012 is all about destruction, with one “can you top this” disaster after another. From cars trying to outrun the giant crack-in-the-earth appearing beneath the rear wheels in Los Angeles, to St. Peter’s Basilica collapsing and rolling over the thousands of faithful in Rome, to a giant tidal wave crashing over the Himalayas, be grateful you can watch all this on film because you sure wouldn’t want to be there in person. If you should make the mistake of actually stopping to think about some logic-defying event you’ve just seen, like how it only takes a couple of hours to drive the 1000 miles from LA to Yellowstone Park, don’t worry, something will come along shortly to numb that thought right out of your head.
Amidst all this hellfire and brimstone, there always seems to be one scene that makes you stop and go “wow”. In 1998’s GODZILLA, it was the scene of the submerged lizard chasing the poor fisherman up the dock. In 2012, it involves Glover, wearily looking up after the collapse of the Washington Monument. From over his shoulder, we see a faint object gradually materializing through the thick dust and smoke, eventually becoming recognizable as the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy being carried high up on a massive tsunami. Like I say, no one films destruction like Emmerich.
The problem is, where does he go from here? With each successive film, his disasters have gotten bigger and bigger. Now that he’s pretty much destroyed the Earth, what does he do next, take on the destruction of the entire solar system? I mean, what is there left to destroy? My hope is that he does something completely unexpected, perhaps a small, intimate character study. Because I’ve got to believe that he wants to be more than a “Johnny One Note”. Or maybe I’m wrong and he is perfectly happy making the movies that he does. Maybe he’s content to be the most expensive “popcorn maker” on earth.