Few directors in Hollywood have me torn the way Roland Emmerich does. He's a person I like to call an "every other" director because every other one of his movies I enjoy. I love Independence Day, but I hate The Day After Tomorrow. I love The Patriot, but I hate Godzilla. I love Universal Soldier, but I loathe 10,000 B.C. In his canon of films, 2012 is an anomaly, falling smack dab in the middle. I neither loved nor hated his newest film. I was just kind of annoyed by it.
It all begins in a mine in India where geologists have just discovered an abnormality never seen before. It is here that they figure out the world is quickly dying. Apparently, neutrinos from the sun are causing some type of physical reaction that is going to destroy the world. Meanwhile, author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) is picking up his kids from his ex-wife's house. He takes them on a camping trip to Yellowstone National park where he meets a crazy radio personality named Charlie (Woody Harrelson) and learns of the well kept secret that the world is ending. He also finds out that somewhere in China ships are being built to save a certain amount of the population, but the highest bidders and smartest of the bunch are taking precedent over everybody else. Jackson is neither, but is determined to get him and his family onboard one of those ships anyway.
As with all of these end-of-the-world pictures, the story in 2012 is absolutely ridiculous. The idea that any of this would ever happen, much less in one day, is preposterous. Unfortunately, it's based on a somewhat common belief that on December 21, 2012, the world will end, which is evidently what the Mayans concluded hundreds of years ago. I hate to break it to you folks, but we'll still be here come 2013. People have been predicting the end of the world for centuries and guess what? None have been right. Shocker. Recently, NASA debunked this loony theory with a great Q&A detailing just why the world will not end. So no, this is not real.
But I'll be damned if it isn't great fiction. This theory so many are up in hysteria about is a great idea for a movie, but Emmerich simply didn't know what to do with it. He has an eye for destruction and it's about as good a movie as you can make about the end of the world, but it's everything surrounding that destruction that's the problem.
The acting is merely adequate and it isn't even written particularly well. It telegraphs everything ahead of time. For instance, Jackson is an author who wrote a book about people who act selfless even when their own lives are at stake, which is an obvious instant of foreshadowing if there ever was one. There are zero narrative surprises in this entire disaster movie.
But if you're a fan of watching stuff blow up real good, this is the movie for you. You get to see the Vatican crumble, the White House get smashed by a giant wave carrying an aircraft carrier and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil shatter to pieces. Oh, and that plane that tips off the edge of a cliff and plummets its passengers to a fiery death? That one's a freebie.
It all boils down to this. 2012 is beyond stupid. I'm scientifically challenged and when it comes to science, you might as well throw a giant dunce cap on me because I can't separate an ocean from a stream, but I'm still one hundred percent sure none of this could ever happen. But Emmerich knows what he's doing and the film delivers on what the trailers promise: widespread chaos and destruction. There's nary a moment of downtime and if this is your cup of tea, have at it.
Although I had a good amount of fun with the film, I cannot in all good conscience recommend it, but if you want to see something outlandishly absurd and hilariously dopey, you could do a whole lot worse than 2012.
2012 receives 2/5