All right folks, this one is a doozy. We’re talking end-of-the-world, danger around every corner (and continent), brought to us from the modern master of disaster himself, Roland Emmerich. Much like Transformers 2 from Michael Bay last year, if you don’t know what you’re getting into when it comes to a film from Emmerich, then you obviously haven’t been paying attention in class. We’re talking the man who brought us Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 10,000 B.C. So we’re talking spectacle on a massive scale, with a so-so plot and not much regard for common sense.
In other words, like Transformers (1 or 2; it really doesn’t matter), if you go into this movie with any expectations beyond being entertained at your most basic level of comprehension…well, you’re over-thinking it. This is everything Emmerich has ever done, only more. Seriously. My first thought coming out of the screening was, “That was The Day After Tomorrow times infinity.” All the destruction and crazy environmental madness that happened in TDAT is visited a hundred-fold on our globe in 2012. I mean we’re talking about the end of the world as we know it as “prophesied” by the Mayans a few thousand years ago. A little permafrost ain’t gonna cut it here, kiddos.
And thus we have special effects on such a huge scale that it’s nearly incomprehensible…and a running time to match. This sucker is 2 hours and 40 minutes. Almost 3 hours of death and terrestrial dismemberment! It’s more than anyone could ever dared to hope for! You’ve got earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, crumbling earth crust, vehicular destruction, drownings, crushings, burninatings...the list goes on and on. To be fair, the effect work on display here is truly something to behold. It’s believable enough to be overwhelming by the time the story is over. Matter of fact, 2012 might be approved by the FDA at some point as a legit form of an explosion vaccine. I think I will be immune from here on out whenever I see another action sequence involving metal and combustible materials.
You’ll notice I haven’t really said much about the story yet. Well, that’s mainly because I’m guessing you’re not going to this for the plot. It’s relatively simple: scientists discover that solar flares are turning neutrinos within the earth’s crust into mini-microwave ovens at an alarming rate and at an alarming intensity. Enough of these little suckers going “nuclear” and you’ve got a planet that’s liquefying its own surface. From there, we meet an incredibly large cast that is inexplicably (and somewhat miraculously) entangled as the flick moves along. Speaking of the cast, there are a number of very solid actors and actresses involved here. Their skills help give the film a minimal amount of gravitas, though they’re not really given a whole lot to work with here, not surprisingly. The script ranges from serviceable to downright clichéd, but again, did you expect anything else?
In the end, 2012 is an over-the-top experience that pretty much demands that you see it in the theatre. Destruction on such an epic scale needs to be seen on a huge screen with a sound system to match. I guess the real question is: are you willing to submit yourself to such an experience for such a long time? If you are, no complaints are allowed when you finish. You knew what you were getting yourself into.