Monday, December 18

Movie Review: 2012 (2009)

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It is totally not credible especially with its unequivocally cheesy, ridiculous story; and yet, this cinematic popcorn is hugely engaging primarily through its mind-boggling visual effects.

The story is your basic end-of-the-world chaos narrative. It’s your usual Hollywood cash cow with the doomsday premise offered as escapism. It doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but it’s still one hell of a fun ride. They sure do blow up things real good. In fact, its graceless mess may kind of insult the intelligence of the logic-demanding crowd, yet for some reasons, it still leaves most people thrilled.

It’s everything you can expect from such an apocalyptic movie. The special effects are topnotch in making the film an intense and gripping popcorn experience where the protagonists are expected to flee and escape the most horrific events happening around them at all cost. The main premise is the usual mix of that American family, that responsible and all good scientist, and that devoted and principled US president – all struggling to make it through the last days of the Earth.

The story is filled with clichés and everything is just too predictable – that it’s just a matter of enjoying the flick’s audio-visual flair and nothing more. Nevertheless, some philosophical and emotional elements of redemption and survival of the fittest still become apparent at some instances.

Formulaic and frenzied, it’s a spectacular but ultimately silly blast from Master of Disaster Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”). In his tradition of catastrophic flicks, he offers another look at the end of the world in “2012.” This time around, it’s the End of Days based from the idea that the Mayan calendar’s last day is said to be Dec 21, 2012. In the film, the earth’s crusts are shifting – causing earthquakes and volcano eruptions on a global scale, followed by inescapable tsunamis.

The movie follows the family’s journey towards their destination, en route to China – where the governments of the world have some sort of a solution through giant ships reminiscent of Noah’s Ark. And this convincingly shows the film as another Noah’s Ark story – interpreted in a 21st Century setting.

“2012” has heavy investment in time and popcorn. Its unrelenting pace, almighty effects, and sheer tongue-in-cheekiness make it consumingly enjoyable. Emmerich provides rollickingly good visual thrills, but it lacks a strong enough script to support its massive scope and inflated length. It gets tad monotonous by the middle part and it further loses momentum by the last act. It really gets too corny by the end that what keeps it really worth watching is the fantastical, mind blowing visual feast.

This end of the world story throws in bits and pieces from all other disaster movies. Its familiar plot taps into virtually every disaster flick ever produced.

Despite the fact that the breathtaking sound and special effects are on the top ranks here, the acting performances are just considerably fine. It is quite a job to act in front of all the merely solid colored screens and other film machines then pretend to be already seeing the apocalyptic mess as required in the story. At the least, the characters get to add a certain humanistic touch to make you feel that incredible sense of urgency brought about by the world’s end and the emotional struggle of humans trying to survive the annihilation.

A number of recognizable actors including John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, and Woody Harrelson are faced with the biggest challenges of living up to the nonsensical script and at some point are being kind of dwarfed by the requirements to maintain all those stunning CGIs. They struggle to make the best performances for the movie’s ungodly language and situations, and they strive to keep up with some inane and mostly clichéd dialogues.

Watch this film for the effects. Take them for what they are and leave logic behind.

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