Published Nov 12, 2009Roland Emmerich is back to trash civilization with natural catastrophe once again. That most looming of mythic dates - 2012 - is the excuse for the carnage this time, and Emmerich takes full advantage, unleashing a continuous orgy of destructive special effects. Of course, even though the world-ending effects are clearly his only interest, the whole patchy narrative is stitched together by a parade of clichéd familial drama and fluffy political moral grandstanding.
After the embarrassingly awesome unintentional comic gem that was 10,000 B.C., Emmerich stacked 2012 with a plethora of quality actors. John Cusack plays Jackson Curtis (a stock version of his on-screen persona), a failed novelist and estranged husband to Amanda Peet's Kate Curtis. During a camping trip with his kids, Jackson runs into some odd geological happenings and a wonderfully zany Woody Harrelson, as conspiracy theory radio host/hippie Charlie Frost.
Of all the talent in play, only Harrelson realizes how ludicrous a concept he's involved in and commits to a suitably wild-eyed and inexplicably pickle-chomping performance that gets some of the film's few intentional laughs.
Elsewhere, scientist Adrian Helmsley has been researching changes in temperature in the Earth's core and developing a timeline for, and exploring the ramifications of, the approaching cataclysmic event. As Helmsley, Chiwetel Ejiofor almost unbalances the tone of the film by being too believable. Luckily, he's got back up from Oliver Platt and a sea of supporting cast who also give more than necessary of themselves.
Were the film to excise a good 30 minutes of bland and overtly convenient interpersonal drama, it'd be a tight sequence of destructive cinematic eye-gasms the director actually cared about every moment of. As it stands, 2012 is a series of predictable, poorly researched, horribly written and excruciatingly pandering events sandwiched amongst some awesome apocalyptic effects. (Sony)