Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2012 (2009)

Written by Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Where & When: Vista Theater, Los Angeles, CA, November 17, 2009 5:00PM

The end is near. At least, that what I kept hoping while watching "2012". This end-of-the-world disaster flick runs for an unnecessary 158 minutes and had at least three perfectly good endings long before the credits finally came. "2012" is loud, obnoxious, manipulative, implausible and completely ridiculous. But despite it's efforts to the contrary, there were a few, brief moments of some genuine fun and thrills.

The film begins in 2009 where Adrian Helmsley, (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a US geologist is summoned to India by a fellow geologist (Jimi Mistry). It has been discovered that the earth's core is heating up at an alarming rate which spells imminent disaster for the planet. Adrian rushes back to the US with a report to inform the government of this. He contacts the White House Chief of staff, Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt) who in turn informs the President (Danny Glover) and a plan is set in to motion with other high ranking officials of the rest of world.

Three years later in California, we meet Jackson Curtis, a writer played by John Cusack (because I guess Nicolas Cage must have been busy) who is picking up his two kids from ex-wife, Kate (Amanda Peet) to take on a camping trip at Yellowstone. While there, the family stumble upon a restricted area which of course they jump a fence to investigate. They find a area where there used to be a large lake and is now virtually dried up. The army comes and sweeps them up to interrogate them. Adrian happens to be at the base and recognizes Jackson from his unsuccessful novel. He is a fan of the book and let's the family go. An unbalanced and paranoid radio host, Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson, very busy this year) has observed the whole incident and wants to know what the army told them. Jackson tells him nothing and Charlie proceeds to let him know exactly what is going on.

According to legend, the ancient Mayans predicted an apocalypse on 12 - 21 - 12 and it has begun. Charlie claims that the government is making a massive space ship to fly people off to a new planet and he has a map showing where the ship is. Jackson thinks he's nuts but back in Los Angeles, Kate and her live-in boyfriend, Gordon (Thomas McCarthy) just happen to be grocery shopping when the Earth cracks wide open, splits the store in half and swallows the surrounding land.

After seeing this on the news, Adrian realizes that the end has begun and it is earlier than predicted. He informs the President and he agonises over if they should begin the evacuation plan. Carl insist that must start the process and so they go forward. The President calls his daughter (Thandie Newton) to let her know it it time.

Kate wants Jackson to bring the kids back from their trip early. Later, a wealthy Russian businessman gets a mysterious phone call and he calls Jackson who just happens to be a part time limousine driver. He wants Jackson to rush him and his family to the airport. After he drops them off, one of the businessman's bratty twin sons tells him they are flying off to safety and he was going to die. Jackson realises that something is happening and rushes back to his family.

Just as soon as Jackson gets to the house, a massive earthquake starts. He shuttles every one into the limo and they take off for the airport. While driving, he manages to miss all manner of flying debris, fiery explosions and the earth disappearing beneath them. When they get to the airport, the pilot who was going to fly them to safety is dead. What are they going to do? Gordon just happens to kinda know how to fly a plane and off they go, barely escaping the complete destruction of Los Angeles in time.

They first stop back to Yellowstone to find Charlie Frost to get the map on where they should go. Charlie wants to stay behind to watch and broadcast the destruction. Jackson manages to get it and they once again barely make it off the ground before another earthquake destroys the area around them. They find out that the ship is supposed to be in China, so we follow Jackson and his family as they try to get to get there but there many obstacles that stand in their way. Will they make it in time before the earth as we know it is completely gone?

The best part (and possibly the only real reason to see this film) is for the amazing visual effects throughout the film. The destruction was very realistic and it made me jump a few times. You can see where all of the time and money was spent on this film and what little bit was left over was used to piece together a script. I have a feeling all they did for a script was take all the best elements from many of the classic "disaster" films like "The Poseidon Adventure", "Earthquake", "Airport" and "The Towering Inferno", string them together to try and create the ultimate disaster flick. The film is filled with a talented, all-star cast who didn't have to stretch themselves too much and got a nice paycheck at the end of the day. So as long as you go in to "2012" not expecting much more than great visual effects, you will have a good time.