You know you've just watched a quality "so bad it's good" movie when, by the end of it, you have a splitting headache from laughing so hard. And the movie wasn't a comedy. Such was my experience with 2012, the latest craptastic epic from director Roland Emmerich (who also co-wrote the ridiculous screenplay). Consider: prior to 2012, the last five films Emmerich has helmed were 10,000 B.C., The Day After Tomorrow, The Patriot, Godzilla, and Independence Day. That's quite a dubious track record, with The Patriot being the only decent one in the bunch. The others? Bad to atrocious. Amazingly, this is the fourth movie from that list whose subject matter centres around an end-of-the-world scenario. 2012 continues his slog through the muck, epitomizing that which is empty, expensive, lowest-common-denominator Hollywood product. In short, Emmerich is the European Michael Bay.
The plot revolves around the world's imminent demise due to a solar flare that has heated up the earth's core to a temperature so high that it will set off a series of environmental disasters. Tossed into the mix are a number of good actors who are clearly slumming: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, and Oliver Platt. Top marks to them for keeping a straight face during their scenes, although Harrelson seems to be most aware of the high camp surrounding him, with his doomsayer prophet character going completely over-the-top. Danny Glover plays the U.S. president with a performance so wooden you might mistake him for one of the talking trees from the Lord Of The Rings films.
Logic in a film like this is clearly not priority number one, which is why Cusack's character (with his kids in tow) is able to easily hop a fence into a super top-secret government area, drive a stretch limo and RV like they're something out of The Dukes Of Hazzard and, once the world starts blowin' up real good, happen upon a chance meeting with his employer that gives him and his family an opportunity to save themselves. Emmerich goes to the well way too many times with sequences where characters just manage to avoid getting swallowed up by the pissed off Earth that is splitting open. There's one hilarious scene where a pilot is flying some characters to safety and, purely for dramatic effect, he inexplicably flies at such low levels that he's dodging in between crumbling buildings and other sorts of potentially fatal obstacles. Granted, he's a novice aviator, but if the guy can manage to get an airplane off the ground then surely he'd be able to get it to a safe altitude. Another scene that'll have you slapping your forehead occurs in a grocery store between a couple as they discuss their relationship. In the worst use of foreshadowing in a movie ever, the man tells her "there's something pulling us apart", which is immediately followed by an earthquake that instantly splits the supermarket floor between the two neatly in half. Then there's the fact one of the main child characters is named "Noah", an unsubtle reference to the detail that arks are implemented by the government as a means of survival later in the movie. That's the level we're working at here, folks.
It's a special kind of film that can have me so uninvested in the characters that I was completely divorced from any hopes or cares that a single character would survive. And if everything I've mentioned so far wasn't bad enough, Emmerich and his studio also have the balls to drag this thing out to a bloated running time of two hours and thirty eight minutes.
The only good things I can say about 2012? Um, let's see...well, I guess some of the special effects are well done and Filter has a pretty decent song that plays over the end credits (the second song you'll hear, not the Adam Lambert monstrosity that precedes it).