Let me start off by saying that I love a good big-screen disaster movie. Sure, you have to suspend reality, accept the fact that there will be cheesy acting, laughable spoken lines and plots with huge holes -- but you're bound to be entertained by some fun action and special effects, right? Well that's with a good disaster movie. 2012 is not a good disaster movie -- it's just a disaster.
Clocking in at nearly two-and-a-half hours, the film feels longer than the actual three years we have left to live -- that is if you believe in the Mayan lore that the world will end on December 21, 2012. Director/co-producer/co-writer Roland Emmerich is a master of the genre, but 2012 does not live up to his past successes (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). Why? Where do I start? Miscasting, a bad script, limited action, sub-par special effects, ridiculous ethnic stereotyping and the movie's unnecessarily long running time are all factors.
Starting in 2009, an academic researcher (Chiwetel Ejiofor) leads a group of people in a fight to counteract the apocalyptic events that were predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar -- and are suddenly proving right with scientific support. Luckily, the U.S. Chief of Staff (Olive Platt) and President (Danny Glover) believe him -- and they start an international effort to plan for the inevitable. Too bad the plan can only save a small fraction of the world's population. How on earth will they decide who should be saved? And can they pull it off in such a short amount of time?
Flash forward three years and we meet Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), an unsuccessful science fiction book writer who now works as a limousine driver. In formulaic fashion, Curtis is estranged from his wife and his two kids. On a trip to Yellowstone, Curtis stumbles upon a whack-job radio jockey (played by Zombieland's Woody Harrelson) who convinces him that the end of the world is truly going to happen. And you guessed it -- Curtis now has a chance to redeem himself with his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and kids -- if only he can save them from the disaster quickly ensuing all around them. I'm sure you can guess the ultimate outcome.
For the most part, the cast members seem to be cringing with each line of ridiculous dialogue. Danny Glover's performance is downright laughable. And John Cusack (Say Anything, Being John Malkovich, Serendipity), who has found success in so many different genres before, is ill-suited for action-adventure. He is not convincing as a strong lead in peril -- but how can you blame him? It must not be easy to act -- or react -- to things that aren't really there, but added later by today's technology. Sadly, the computer-generated special effects fall mostly short. Except for a few thrill rides in flight, the images look fake. Studios need to step it up now that audiences expect more-realistic effects. To sum up -- just in case we really only have three years to live -- don't waste your valuable time with this ridiculous film. [Rated PG-13; opens today]
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