Films in Review: 2012

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

I've never been sure what to make about the genre of disaster movies, on one hand they almost always represent a struggle of man against nature which often involves touching personal stories and a strong moral about 'man's folly in over-reaching the limitations of the natural world'. They are also spectacular to watch with special effects that often push the envelope of your expectations for film visuals.

But on the other hand they feel rather twisted and a more than a little sociopathic as they always feature vast amounts of people being killed - often in ironic or unpleasant fashions. In some way they're almost the tamer, but genocidal version of the "torture-porn" genre - in as much as they have a great to offer someone who's just hoping to see a lot of people killed very quickly.

2012 is one of the most recent disaster movies, based on the Mayan prediction that the world will end in 2012 - it well. Does. Some science mumbo-jumbo involving the sun essentially overboiling the Earth's core results in the crust destabilising and lots of eye friendly cracks occuring all across the globe.

The story itself follows both the decisions of various world leaders - with the US President (adeptly played by Danny Glover - Predator 2) taking a major role in the movie - which is to be expected as he's the first world leader to be advised of the situation by the scientist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor - Serenity).

The personal aspect of the story follows one Jackson Curtis (John Cusack - Gross Point Blank), mild mannered a minor novellist turned limo driver. He's seperated from his wife (Amanda Peet - Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) who's dating a plastic surgeon (Thomas McCarthy - The Wire). From here I think you can pretty much figure out where his story is going to take him, and to be fair Cusack does well with the role he's been given - but the entire thing doesn't hang together well when it's the group isn't busy running away from the latest disaster.

For myself the most enjoyable part was Woody Harrelson as paranoid (but correct) conspiracy theorist/pirate radio broadcaster Charlie Frost. Woody brought a level of enthusiasm and quality to the screen which lifted the story up for a while. I think a disaster movie based around his character would have been a fantastic prospect, and it's a shame he wasn't the central role.

On the whole 2012 was a decent film, but it did feel a little hollow at times. It was visually a feast, filled with exciting moments set against a chaotic backdrop - but the core story felt just a little flat. It's certainly something you'll enjoy watching the once, but not a film which holds up to repeated viewing. I'd recommened it to disaster movie enthusiasts, CGI lovers and people who want to spend a couple of hours unwinding and watching something which is full of style but shallower on the substance.


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