| Two Reviews below, first by Keith Cohen and then by Jolene Mendez.
The epic disaster movie is back in a gargantuan way thanks to the creative vision of filmmaker Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Godzilla”).
The ancient Mayan civilization kept track of time with a “Long Count” calendar that had a well-defined ending date of 12/21/12. This coincides with a series of astronomical alignments that occur once every 25,800 years. The unique position of the sun at its lowest point (solstice) on the horizon will form a “gateway” between the universe and the souls of every living creature on Earth. The Mayans believed that every end also marked the beginning of something new. However, they left no clue about what would happen after 12/21/12.
A doomsday theory arose out of a Western idea that the universe would cease to exist from a nuclear war or a biblical judgment day. Emmerich opts instead for the Earth’s core to heat up like a microwave.
The movie opens in 2009 with Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor from “American Gangster,” “Talk to Me,” “Kinky Boots” and “Dirty Pretty Things”), a U.S. government geologist, visiting a young astrophysicist in India. A startling discovery is made from the deepest copper mine in the world.
Helmsley takes the red-eye flight back to Washington, D.C., and gives his report to Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt from “Frost/Nixon” and “The West Wing”), the president’s chief of staff. This sets in motion a top-secret plan for continuation of the human species when the world as we know it will come to an end.
This cataclysmic story is told from the points of view of those with knowledge and the average citizen out of the loop. The audience develops a rooting interest for Jackson Curtis (John Cusack from “High Fidelity,” “Being John Malkovich” and “Con Air”) and his family. Curtis is a frustrated writer whose book “Farewell Atlantis” barely sold 500 copies. His tunnel vision caused him to block out his wife, Kate (Amanda Peet from “A Lot Like Love” and “The Whole Nine Yards”), and two young children, ending in divorce. He now works as a limousine driver while Kate and the kids live with her caring and considerate plastic surgeon boyfriend, Gordon (Thomas McCarthy from “The Wire”).
President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover from “Dreamgirls” and the four “Lethal Weapon” movies opposite Mel Gibson ) and his daughter, Laura (Thandie Newton from “Crash” and “Mission: Impossible II”), are on the other end of the political scale. He puts her in charge of procuring renowned works of art. He purposely keeps her in the dark regarding the real reason behind her assignment.
Curtis stumbles onto the doomsday scenario by accident when he takes his kids on a weekend camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. This naïve and unabashed optimist makes the acquaintance of Helmsley, who happens to be reading his book, when he and his kids are detained by military troops for entering a restricted hot zone area. Curtis also meets Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson from “No Country for Old Men” and “Cheers”), a crazy radio broadcaster predicting the earth’s expiration date.
The clock starts ticking for evacuation procedures.
The CGI special effects of every natural catastrophe imaginable are the best ever seen on a cinematic screen. The catalogue of disasters, which are unparalleled in scope and magnitude, include fissures opening from surface cracks, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and powerful flooding from tsunamis.
Curtis and his family are transported in every conceivable vehicle by land, air and sea. They have a myriad of cliffhanging close calls as they try overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
The movie builds in intensity, taking the viewer on a thrilling roller coaster adventure. This suspenseful movie expertly combines the scientifically based narrative filled with interesting characters from all walks of life with awesome, jaw-dropping visual effects, marvelous cinematography and stellar production design.
Touching family moments will elicit feelings of emotion and empathy.
This popcorn-munching guilty pleasure will keep you on the edge of your seat with your fingers crossed that the people you readily identify with will survive. The cliché-ridden dialogue puts you in a comfort zone of recognition. The movie never takes its foot off the accelerator, leaving the viewer with little time to breathe. You will be sorry if you have to take a bathroom break.
The pacing is such that you never feel the effects of the 2-hour 40-minute running time.
This box office behemoth with a budget exceeding $260 million will hold up for repeated viewings. Fans of apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy will have nostalgic recollections of “The Towering Inferno,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Earthquake,” “Volcano” and “The Titanic.”
Every nationality and ethnicity is represented in this globe-trotting presentation. A variety of languages are spoken with English subtitles. An emphasis is placed on communication between fathers and sons trying to bridge the generation gap. The movie even has a humanistic side much like last year’s “The Dark Knight” with the extremely tough moral decision of which people should be chosen to see the dawning of a new day. The rich and privileged, the heads of state and the perfect gene pool are aligned on one side and the ordinary common laborer on the other.
The concluding scenes whet your appetite for either a sequel or a television mini-series.
This exciting, must-see destination event will play best on a large screen in the company of fellow enthusiastic moviegoers.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"
Review Below By:
Jolene Mendez of JoReviews.com
2 out of 4 Stars
"2012" is doomsday and every man is looking for survival. Based on the Mayans calendar this movie focuses on the end of time which is supposedly Dec. 21, 2012. When scientists discover that the Earth's core is overheating which will eventually cause mass destruction of the world they begin a full research to see what can be done. As time progresses and it is shown that the problem is only increasing they decide it is time to make a means to save the human race. A secret government site is set up at Yosemite Park where Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) meets two interesting men. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is the man aware of the upcoming catastrophe through his scientific discoveries, the other being a crazed camper who seems to know everything about what is to come. Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson) has Jackson believing him for a brief moment until he once again seems to be off this rocker.
As Jackson does not believe his fate is sealed yet he returns home with his children and begins to see the tiny cracks everywhere in the Earth's surface and begins to wonder. As he goes on about his day and picks up one of the wealthiest man's children he realizes he is taking them to the airport to escape. Charlie was not crazy after all. As a press conference is going on in Los Angeles to make people aware that there is nothing to fear there is a cataclysmic event. The ground is falling in to an endless hole of doom. Jackson tries to do everything he can to save his family, but as everything caves in around him will he be able to succeed?
"2012" was intriguing to the eye. There were some superb special effects; some of the best were during the escape scenes when Los Angeles is under siege. Most performances were average. Two standouts would be John Cusack and Woody Harrelson who both brought out a comical side that the film desperately needed. The almost three hour film should have been cut back to be far more enjoyable. Overdoing it on the intense countdowns does not make the film any better; it just makes it more frustrating. It was your average D Day film with all the bells and whistles and while many will enjoy it, it could have been better.