starring John Cusak, Oliver Platt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, Liam James and Morgan Lily
written by Roland Emmerich and Harold Kloser
directed by Roland Emmerich
This is a really exciting disaster film, another one of those end-of-the-world scenarios - not because of human hubris but because of unavoidable natural disaster, like in The Day After Tomorrow, The Core, Deep Impact, Armageddon, etc. Apocalyptic destruction really sells! And in 2012 it’s mixed in with some New Age mysticism and religious eschatology, too. The fact that we are living in an era of global warming-related climate change - that the average public does not understand - helps prepare people to be a receptive audience for these kinds of climate-related disaster films.
But it’s a kind of silly movie, too. John Cusak thinks he can escape an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, a tsunami - anything - in his car. And he does!, which is about as silly as Bruce Willis using a car to shoot down a helicopter in Die Hard 4.0. There is a lot of science mixed with the Hollywood storytelling. I hope you all studied Plate Tectonics in high school geography class - you should have - because it will help you understand a lot of the information thrown at you. Those same high school geography lessons will tell you where the mistakes, omissions, and faulty logic are. It’s as if the writers knowingly used some Plate Tectonic theory but then deliberately ignored the rest. But that won’t stop you from enjoying it.
The idea behind the title“2012” is that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012 - the Winter Solstice! - providing conspiracy theorists with the idea that the world will end then and that the Mayans had some mystical foreknowledge of it. Of course, if you asked a Mayan person if 2012 is really the end of the world he would deny it, saying that it is only the end of one cycle in their calendar and the start of a new cycle - kind of like how the Chinese calendar turns in repeating 12-year cycles. And, if you ask historians they will point out that Mayan civilization was destroyed - by rival Aztecs, or by marauding Europeans - before it had a chance to extend its calendar beyond 2012. But these distinctions are lost on Joe Public, I guess.
I had to watch the DVD twice just to hear it once, because my wife kept interrupting the first time, “Who’s that? What’s happening? What does that mean?” Here’s a lesson for everyone: don’t talk during a movie! Even if you come in part-way through just shut up and watch it, use your brains and the story will unfold for you.
I liked it. It was exciting. But it was just too darn long. Towards the end I was bored with excitement and waiting for it to finally be over. Just too much adrenalin, suspense, explosions, disaster, fear, amazement, etc. There must have been some way to wrap it up more quickly.
I like watching Oliver Platt. I don’t know why. He’s tall, he’s not ‘handsome.’ But he has a good voice and he’s funny. Maybe I like him because I know that he graduated high school from the AmericanSchool in Japan (ASIJ) here in Tokyo. Or, maybe it’s because he was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Incidentally, he is not related to Edward Platt, who played The Chief on the TV show Get Smart.
Woody Harrelson is easily my favorite character, as the conspiracy theorist radio show host, Charlie Frost. He’s the only one who really knows what’s going on. At first I didn’t recognize that it was Harrelson.
Watch for the joke about Wisconsin.