Friday, November 13, 2009

Review: 2012

2012 (2009)
Genre: Adventure
Format: Theatrical Release
Director: Roland Emmerich

When it comes to modern disaster movies of recent past, none has been able to be as powerful as Mimi Leder's 1998 sci-fi drama Deep Impact. That movie follows a very simple formula that should be easily copied by similar movies that wanted a taste of its success: intriguing build up + utter sense of peril + realistic characters + great special effects + big climax = good disaster movie. It was the same formula that was also used in the first half of the movie Independence Day that preceded it. Roland Emmerich's fascination with only the "great special effects" portion of that formula ensures that his disaster movies always end up in a disaster and now he has a new one that he can proudly add to that list of shameful film-making.

2012 mostly follows the perspectives of several larger than life super heroes who are able to survive natural disasters at a global scale. The reason why I describe these characters as such is because every good thing that happens to them feels extremely convenient. Their survival doesn't bring much joy for celebration because they were never in any sort of danger in the first place despite some of the idiotic life-and-death decisions that they made throughout the tale. It is offensive to see much of the movie time spent on these unrealistic characters when you also witness a lot other people perish in the millions. It would be much more entertaining to follow the last days of the people who do not survive the catastrophe so that at least you could honor their memories and feel a much needed sense of urgency in the movie. True that several of these super hero characters did die but their death were just there to invoke a cheap sense of pity that would linger no longer than the final frame of their death scenes.

But one watches a movie like 2012 for the special effects and not the story, yes? Not necessary. Storyline and special effects go hand in hand - if that was not the case, then Transformers 2 would have been the masterpiece of the century instead of being merely a beautiful piece of dirty trash. The reason why the planet is breaking apart in this movie is outlandish but that is expected. The film's story would have worked better if you can actually sense the doom brought upon the film's magnificent vistas. The CG works done on all the destruction scenes are exemplary, though there were a number of awkward "blue screen" moments. Sadly, almost all of them have been shown in the movie trailer, destroying any sense of extreme awe and wonderment that you have already felt watching that over-compensating trailer. The fury of these scenes are so intense that they could have at least make a sort of impact if you haven't seen them before. So, you actually don't miss anything by not watching the movie - just imagine being stuck with characters that you don't care about in between the destruction shown in the trailer. Yeah, not fun at all.

The statement "Watch it for the special effects" doesn't work with this movie. Just go to the iTune Movie Trailers page and look for 2012's 1080p movie trailer because that is pretty much all that you are going to get from Emmerich's latest disappointment. 2012 wants to show you humanity's heroics when the world is coming to an end but all I saw was a fleeting director's desperate attempt to hold his movie together as his career (or at least what's left of his integrity) is going down the drain.

RATING: 1 out of 5

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