Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2012 (**1/2)

2012. 158 mins. PG-13. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Written by Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser. Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, and Woody Harrelson.

There are a lot of blurbs you can throw at 2012, Roland Emmerich's latest disaster porn epic. Spectacularly stupid! Impressively incompetent! Friggin' dumb! Way too long! The movie is just one big exclamation point of filmmaking, visually rendered by a team of immensely talented effects artists, and ultimately hampered by Emmerich's hack directing and plodding script. 2012 completes his trilogy of destruction - the other two being Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. It's better than Tomorrow, but lacks the freshness and fun of ID4. John Cusack is a likeable actor in the right role, but he's no Will Smith and he lacks the kind of star wattage needed to carry this big a production on his shoulders. Cusack plays a writer named Jackson Curtis who races to save his ex-wife (Amanda Peet), kids, and her new boyfriend (Tom McCarthy) before a global cataclysm threatens to destroy all of mankind. The action sequences here are on a giant scale and deserve to be seen on the big screen, but they do grow repetitive. See Cusack and family outrun impending doom in a limo! A plane! Another plane! An RV! When the action dials down a notch, Emmerich sticks to the same kitchen sink of characters approach he used in ID4, but to less success. There's a lack of focus to the script, with too much time given to unimportant supporting characters. By the time the movie finally gets to its finale, an ungainly hybrid of Evan Almighty and Poseidon, you're so exhausted by all the death, water, and mayhem that you just want it to be over. But Emmerich doesn't care - he treats 2012 like the Energizer Bunny: it keeps going and going and going and going and going and going and going and going. Well, you get the idea.

- John


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