2012 : A Dated Sci-fi Disaster Movie Blockbuster…
Count the disaster movie clichés, or enjoy the CGI…as John Cusack’s character saves the world.
2012 – Full HD Trailer- At UK Cinemas November 13, Sony Pictures Releasing UK and photographs © Columbia Pictures.
Darlin’ husband and I were both brought up on 1970s disaster movies and had enjoyed more modern disaster films like Titanic (1997) and the Syfy films which often stole the plot from many a blockbuster disaster movie. In the 1970s, disaster movies included man-made disasters such as the Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) and the Airport 1975 (1974) films.
This genre also included disasters that happened to man-made structures such as football stadiums – Two Minute Warning (1976) – and skyscrapers such as The Towering Inferno (1974). British actor Michael Caine also aided many others from nature turned nasty disaster movies such as bees in The Swarm (1978) or sharks in Jaws IV: The Revenge (1987).
Since then disaster movies have become part of the staple diet of the cinema listings. They now usually have the added bonus of 3D which often seems more fantastic in the trailer than it usually is in the film. 3D may sound impressive to my eight-year-old stepdude, but probably not as impressive as the word Sensurround did in the mid 1970s.
Sensurround was developed for the Charlton Heston disaster film Earthquake (1974) – also starring Victoria Principal Dallas (1978) fans – and created “the sense of actually experiencing an earthquake in theatres”. For this review I rewatched on television, the disaster movie of 2009 named… 2012 which ironically last 2 hours 12 minutes but with commercial breaks on Finnish tv meant 3 hours.
This film I believed also has an in film game for ardent disaster movie aficionados like darlin’ husband and I called spot either who will die next, the next disaster movie cliché, or the potential storyline for each character. Or you can play 6 degrees of Curtis Jackson as the lead character has more links to other characters than Kevin Bacon has too many actors.
2012 is a science fiction, disaster movie which means they can make up the science bit as it suits them. It was co-written by Roland Emmerich and judging from the gratuitous amount of CGI in the storyline, an 8-year-old boy whose hobby is killing off characters with TNT in Minecraft.
It stars John Cusack, Danny Glover, George Segal and Woody Harrelson. The story tells how in 2009 a geologist, Dr Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) visits an astrophysicist friend Dr Tsurutani (Jimi Mistry) in India. Tsurutani is claiming that some neutrinos from solar flares are increasing the earth’s core to dangerous levels. This information is then shared with US President Wilson (Glover).
The following year, at a meeting with other international countries a secret project is developed by the President, the G8 countries and China to ensure that humanity survives. This project involves building 9 arks in Tibet which will carry 100, 000 people each. Funding for the project is by selling the tickets for 1 billion euros for entry to the arks.
Forward to 2012, John Cusack plays apparently failed sci-fi writer Jackson Curtis, who also works as a chauffeur to a billionaire Russian Karpov. Curtis wrote a book about Atlantis years ago, which didn’t sell well, but that’s not that really that important although it is to Helmsley, his number 1 fan.
Curtis is separated from his wife Kate (Amanda Peet), and their young kids Lilly and Noah. Kate has now moved in with a plastic surgeon called Gordon. Curtis takes the kids camping in Yellowstone Park, where they climb over a fence and come across Helmsley and US Army who take them in for questioning.
Helmsley and the army are there as they are monitoring the earth’s core temperature. Luckily for Curtis, Dr Hemsley recognises him as he appears to be the only person ever to read his book and recognises him from the dust cover. The family are released.
Later in the park, Curtis bumps into loveable eccentric Charlie Frost (Harrelson), the local conspiracy theorist who tells him that the polar shifts and 2012 Mayan phenomenon will occur soon. Later Frost shows Curtis a wee natty cartoon to mansplain these theories to the sci-fi writer (and those of us who got a bit lost from the beginning who are still wondering what are neutrinos and are they really relevant to the plot or life in general.)
An earthquake then hits Calfornia, just as Kate is shopping with new man Gordon, leading to some really bad punning from him. This pun appears to be stolen shamelessly from a Schwarzenegger film and then was adapted for this film. I asked darlin’ husband who remembers all the puns and the “splitting” line is from The Running Man (1987).
Curtis is asked by Kate to bring the kids home which he does despite the oncoming danger. This made me wonder why is Kate not thinking about the kids’ safety. Cue Hulk. Especially as they head back there later in the story.
Curtis then hires a plane and a pilot – beating the rush or maybe he offered to autograph a book and this bit was cut from the final movie to make room for more CGI – and goes back to collect his family to take them to safety. This leads to the film viewer – including darlin’ husband – mistakenly thinking they are playing a game console game in reverse.
As in the boss level, Curtis has to explain without mansplaining to the ex-wife why they should leave the house before their home becomes dust. So do listen ex-wives if your normally balanced, sci-fi writing ex-husband starts ranting on about leaving the house now with the kids as he may be just concerned about you and your families safety.
Then after successfully passing this level, it is like watching a game console car race game for level 2. In this level, Curtis appears to be the only successful driver on the road to the airport with lots of CGI to avoid and demonstrating some stunts even The Dukes of Hazzard‘s General Lee would be proud of. Methinks, Curtis obviously plays the Grand Theft Auto game when he isn’t writing crap sci-fi books.
The family get to the airport where there is nobody to fly the plane… but luck is on their side, sarcasm intended, as new man Gordon who as he said earlier can not only transform Kate’s breasts to his satisfaction (level 3) but he can fly a plane (level 4). What are the odds of that?
This leads to a flight simulator level in even more CGI. So ladies, don’t nag him to get off the games console, he’s actually learning skills which could help you and your families survival….anyway there are a shed load of levels after that which you will identify by the CGI and or the handsqueeze by your partner.
I won’t spoil the rest of the film all for you – I feel and think I have given away enough. But I do think that Emmerich was inspired by a lot of disaster movies and blew most of the film’s budget on the CGI.
He then added a few family sugary moments to link it all, where the likeable Curtis bonds with just about everyone in the main cast. These families are reunited by chance. The whole world is a family, blah blah.. then why stop at 9 arks! Also, why keep all the arks in Tibet? Cue more Hulk moments.
Emmerich adds a wee bit of romance including several scenes where Helmsley totally hits on the President’s daughter Laura (Thandie Newton). Despite having a place on the ark and keeping a space for his friend and his family he then echos Laura’s now dead father’s wishes to get on her good side.
Presumably, romance was added so as guys could tell the girls its sort of like a Titanic (1997) film ie a bit of romance for her and CGI disasters for him. A bit like that Sucker Punch (2011) isn’t just about a bunch of gorgeous girls but about mental health with Jon Hamm.
With the exception of Harrelson, Cusack and Glover, it’s then a case of who should have been cast as who in the movie…With the CGI budget stretched to titanic proportions, you can then wonder if Oliver Platt should have been Jack Black or Thandie Newton should have been Zoe Saldana.
Also if the actor who played the English science guy with the crazy hair, bow tie and 1960s spectacles should have been Jim Broadbent or Sean Bean but haven’t a clue who he was or his name. Probably the former judging from the outfit and the fact that he doesn’t die.
Also, a wee bit more comic relief would have been good. For example, as the President, Danny Glover still had the hot daughter from his Lethal Weapon films but then couldn’t we have had him moaning that he was one day away from retirement as he was obviously so itching to say in his final scenes.
There is also a cameo from a Queen Elizabeth II lookalike and her corgis entering a helicopter, now becoming an extended role similar to that the Queen had in the Olympics Ceremony. This was when the Queen was helped out by Daniel Craig’s James Bond and his handy helicopter.
After all, I am sure that the final pun from Helmsley in the closing moments during his umpteenth and more successful attempt at a chat-up line to Laura was one James Bond would be proud of. But before you and I get totally cynical and start to chide ex minor Brat Packer and Oscar tipped actor John Cusack for his role in a really cliched Hollywood disaster movie. Remember that actors have needs too.
As a seasoned disaster movie star, Michael Caine once said about the then disastrous (no pun intended) Jaws IV (1987), “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10