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2012 (2009)

We Were Warned.

Starring:

Amanda Peet

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Danny Glover

John CusackJohn Cusack

Morgan Lily

Oliver Platt

Thandie Newton

Woody Harrelson

Directed by:

Roland Emmerich

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 158 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

Country: Canada, United States

The end of the world as we know it, famous buildings being destroyed and a multi stranded story of ordinary people trying to survive in a dying world – haven’t we seen that before? Yes, a fair number of times now. So, for 2012 to justify it’s over-hyped release, it would have to be something special. Lo-and-behold, it’s not and the end just can’t come soon enough.

The apocalypse comes in 2012, just as those canny Mayans said it would, and the earth’s core begins to dissolve and the crust is destabalised by huge earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. As nature starts to take its revenge, estranged Dad and failed novelist, Jackson Curtis (Cusack), learns of the end of the world before most and he sets off to rescue his family. Jackson loves his kids and is a generally good guy and his wife’s current boyfriend drives a Porsche – guess who we are supposed to root for? Meanwhile, government scientist Adrian Helmsley (Ejiofor) and slippery politician Carl Anheuser (Platt) are trying save some remnant of society, some random families throughout the world show that it’s a global phenomena and other peripheral characters dutifully await their deaths.

The family implausibly manage to out-fly, out-drive and literally out-run a series of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, and when it is so obvious that they aren’t going to kill off their main star vehicle and Hollywood isn’t in the business of having kids die on screen, the action doesn’t grip and all gets a bit tedious. Although I suppose if they had died within the first fifteen minutes then it wouldn’t have been much of a film. On the whole, the characters aren’t all that likeable, it’s only Helmsley who comes out of it as a well-rounded, caring human being. As the film is about an unwinnable battle with nature, a villain is created in the human form of Anheuser. He is made out to be a scumbag because he doesn’t let the whole world onto their escape vessels (think Noah’s ark) and then refuses to endanger thousands of peoples lives for the sake of Jackson and his family. The Russian family are shameless stereotypes and act as a contrast to the all American family they travel with. Compared to the likes of Independence Day this is all pretty humourless, except for Woody Harrelson’s conspiracy theorist. Random bits of humour, like excruciating one liners, normally drag a film like this into the ‘So bad, it’s good’ category, but instead this is just plain old bad.

As with all epics, the film is indulgently dragged out to a marathon two and a half hour runtime and it really doesn’t deserve it. 2012 does manage to perk up when most of humanity has perished, as it travels into the sci-fi realm of ‘what next?’ but then it flatlines at the end as it descends into melodrama. Finally, the whole premise of the film is destroyed with one line – “Africa is now the highest point in the world. It probably never even flooded.” Saving humanity? What fluff.

It's Got: A marathon runtime

It Needs: Characters you can care about, main character death roulette

Alternatives:

Deep Impact, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow

Summary

The end can’t come soon enough with this overlong and overhyped disaster epic that all been done before – just far better.

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