By Sean Harris ’11
When director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) decides to make a disaster movie, he pulls out all the stops.
He does this by making sure no national monument is safe, no cliché is left unused and the constant fears of the general population are not left unstirred, whether those fears are aliens, global warming or the end of the world.
His latest work, “2012,” showcases his penchant for all these things, and in doing so creates a very gaudy thrill ride that doesn’t let up.
The story follows the very flimsy notion that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, although the movie begins in the present (Gasp! Does that mean it could be happening now?) following Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as he discovers that “science” indeed points out that the world is heading towards a cataclysmic event.
He goes to the government, which starts planning the survival strategy of the human race.
Alongside this plot is the story of Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a failed writer turned limo driver who pulls his family out of the most inescapable situations over and over and over again.
One such event has Cusack running away from a volcano as it is exploding, trying to catch up to a moving airplane.
If the plot sounds ridiculous that’s because it is. Surprisingly, it all worked for me.
All the characters in the movie are walking clichés and the actors ham it up to the nth degree, which makes it so much fun watching them in action, and it’s shockingly effective.
I actually found myself touched by one of Danny Glover’s overdramatic speeches.
A special shout-out to Woody Harrelson who plays a deranged conspiracy nut, a role that steals the whole movie.
Another highlight of the movie is the special effects.
Starting with the escape from Los Angeles, the effects do not let up, taking us from one incredible set piece moment to the next at a breakneck speed. Best effects of the decade sums up my opinion.
However, the film is simply too long.
Clocking in at 158 minutes it needs some serious work in the editing room.
The movie also seems to lose its sense of fun as time goes on, instead replacing it with boring debates and sappy speeches that lose their appeal the fifth time a character says it.
The effects also lose their “wow” factor as time goes on, because if you’ve seen one city collapse into the ocean, you’ve seen them all.
Nevertheless, “2012” is an incredibly campy joy ride that has to be seen on the big screen for the full effect.
Is it a good movie? No, but is it a fun one? Yes; the end of the world has never looked so good.
3 out of 5 horseshoes