Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2012 (Film Review)

It's an unfortunate aspect of the film industry that some genres end up sometimes being left behind. As time progresses on they fall by the wayside thanks to being overused (as with Westerns) suffer a particularly bad run (superheroes, which were thankfully revitalised only a short time later) or become unmarketable. This was the case with disaster films thanks to an especially poor number of releases, directors running out of ideas, and Mel Brooks pulling off the most perfect parody imaginable. While they're not entirely extinct, these films aren't as common with big names today as they were a few decades ago. Often, as is the case here, they're as big a parody of themselves is Airplane!

Set at the end of 2012, the film is set on a world about to destroy itself thanks to mad science and a Mayan prophecy. As the world rolls towards 2013, massive disasters wrack the planet and begin destroying countless cities, along with every famous landmark the film can fit in. As things fall to pieces around him, Jackson Curtis attempts to bring his alienated family and wife's new boyfriend to safety.

Being a Roland Emmerich creation, you can likely already guess this is a very big and very dumb production. Everything present is one massive excuse to show more and more destruction via high quality CGI and have John Cusack flee from it. Taken to a ludicrous degree, the film continually goes out of its way to show as many natural disasters and urban carnage as humanly possible. It's the main selling point and at least with this it's gotten right, proving to be entertaining at every turn. The sheer inventiveness when it comes to displaying the lava, tidal waves and countless major disasters is beyond belief but the film knows how to use it. They're used to keep the plot moving at a rapid pace and provide enough eye candy to stop the viewers ever getting bored. This is a good thing because just about everything else here isn't that good to say the least.

The entire plotline surrounding Curtis' family or even the many other characters are extremely dumb. Not in the fun kind of way but in a manner where it feels as if they were written purely as a requirement because the film couldn't just contain explosions. Unfortunately while Kurt Russel might have been able to breath life into an otherwise dull character in Stargate, the same cannot really be said here. Many actors are obviously trying their best, but the difference there was that was dumb but got many points right. The characters themselves were likable, and when they weren't the actors could at least make them tolerable, but here it's harder to sympathise with anyone.

Curtis' main drive might be likable but it feels as if it's just a small drop in the ocean in comparison to all those dying around them. He manages to get a few people to survive armageddon, but kills everyone around him along the way. The ones who are shown to display some degree of pragmatism are mostly there to serve as political strawmen for pot shots and others just fade into the background. All too often you're just looking at the screen trying to watch a group of fairly talented actors do their best with a sub-par script, and make their characters likable. Even those who do survive are not the most likable of people, surviving almost entirely thanks to spending their cash on themselves. Yes, these are the sorts of people we're supposed to be glad who came out alive.

The criticism of the plot might sound pointless in a film which is fully aware it's dumb, but there needs to be some semblance of logic behind it. It at least needs to make the audience sympathise with people and not try to pull off symbolism to try and make itself look smart. While not as big an offender as Neon Genesis Evangelion in this regard, and the writer at least isn't trying to pretend his creation is something intelligent and "edgy", you're going to be face-palming when you hear Noah be mention. He's a guy commanding a ship that's about to survive a flood.

This is the real problem of 2012, far too much of it feels artificial and without too much real heart to it. Flash Gordon might have been cheesiness taken to the logical extreme, but at least there ever actor involved was devouring whole scenes at a time and obviously having fun with the script. Here both the writing and too many of the actors seem to be taking ludicrous material and trying to play it straight faced. In comparison to Emmerich's bigger successes like Independence Day, it just feels as if the quality has slipped in a few respects.

There's really not much more to comment upon here. The CGI is great but there's not too much else it has to offer you and the story doesn't even work for a big explosive film like this one. It's still better than the likes of Battleship, and you might have some fun laughing at some of the more erogenous moments of stupidity, but it's not the first thing i'd suggest for a loud bad film. Watch if you don't have anything else, but otherwise find something better.

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