2012 – Review

Anything but a disaster…
Image Courtesy of IMPawards.com

Director: Roland Emmerich
Notable Cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover

Perfection can be viewed in different ways depending on the person doing the labeling, as well as the circumstances in which the label is being placed. Giving a movie five stars is something that may be coveted by some to be only given to the elite of the elite when it comes to the finest films of the year. These films are usually ones that will be recognized come awards season, and put on top ten lists from a majority of critics as the year’s best. That being said, others, like myself, view five stars as – not so much a status of overall perfection, as it is a movie that must be seen – and in this case; must be seen now.

2012 is that movie, and this may come as a shock as it is a disaster movie and to some, if you’ve seen the world end once, you’ve seen it a million times. Add on to that statement that the film is directed by Roland Emmerich – a man known almost strictly for his Armageddon-themed movies – and you’d wonder why even bother, been there, done that. The thing is, this is Emmerich’s crowning achievement. This is the film that takes all the pieces that worked so well on his other projects, eliminates some of the problems, adds to the realism of the destruction sequences, and gives us a group of characters – while each presenting their own cliché role – we care about and want to see survive the un-survivable.

With a running time of 158 minutes the movie allows time to get to know these characters, and their various roles in different aspects of the story. The disaster isn’t just thrown into the laps of those involved leaving them all scrambling like lunatics to survive the apocalypse, but is brought to the attention of the proper authorities in the year 2009. That’s not to say that they bring this knowledge to the attention of the public this far in advance – as to avert worldwide anarchy – but it’s nice to see how things play out when years of preparation is had by the governments of our world.

The involving story and interesting characters help this movie keep its strong pacing; however, one unaccredited character that ties everything together is the world and its destruction. The CGI used in 2012 are fantastic, and look incredibly realistic. The scenes where the roads are splitting in two or tsunami waves are crashing through cities make you hold onto the edge of your seat, and the daring escapes will leave you holding your breath.

This is another aspect that must be addressed when placing such high accolades on a movie that relies so heavily on the viewer to suspend disbelief. The scenes where John Cusack is driving through the streets of Los Angeles while the earth is literally crumbling just feet behind him could be viewed at by some as just preposterous; though that would defeat the entire purpose of the movie. During those scenes, with buildings crashing down on all sides, and what seemingly feels like every car but his falling to the destruction around, the suspense is so great that you’ll feel yourself give a sigh of relief when they narrowly miss certain doom that would undoubtedly take down any of us in that situation.

There are other eye-rolling moments if you allow yourself to be brought down to the levels of reality a movie like this needs you to ignore. At one point while trying to escape disaster the group needs to get onto a small plane, and with no pilot they have to turn to a man who’s only had a couple of lessons in his life, yet somehow manages to maneuver between falling buildings, and dodge giant volcanic rocks. This could easily spoil the movie, but it comes across so well that you’re so entranced in them escaping, that you feel as though you’re strapped into the co-pilot seat holding on for dear life right along with them.

The acting is solid through and through, and the story holds together quite well for a movie-going audience (how many of us are really going to challenge the physics of what would happen if the earth shifted off course, or what’d happen when the core of our planet melts. If they say it’d cause a mass tsunami attack, then I’ll take their word for it.) Emmerich has done a wonderful job with the direction of this film – as even with the movie almost reaching three hours in length, it never feels as though it’s dragging on or forcing the viewer along.

In the end, 2012 is everything a movie-going audience could ask for. It’s filled with thrills, explosions, drama, and if you open yourself up to it, it even finds your heart-strings to tug on. It’s one of the most entertaining movies of the year, and a summer blockbuster right at the start of winter. It deserves the highest accolades that it can be given, as it truly is one of the best disaster movies of all-time.


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