'2012': It's the end of the world as we know it
On Dec. 21, 2012, it has been predicted that the world is going to end. However, unlike the Y2K panic, Hollywood has so graciously offered a peek into the future in the form of a high-octane-fueled, action-packed, 158 minute film.
"2012" opens up in the year 2009. Dr. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is visiting a colleague in India, where it is made known that the Earth's core is rapidly heating up. Over the next two years, clips of small events, such as the president (Danny Glover) confirming to world leaders that the world is, in fact, ending, are shown at a quickened pace.
In the year "2012," it seems to be an ordinary day for Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) as he rushes out the door to pick his two children up for their camping trip. In his rush, he fails to see an incredibly huge crack in the road, resulting from an earlier earthquake. Have no fear, he will have plenty of chances to see more.
After picking up his kids, the three start their journey to Yellowstone National Park, which unbeknownst to the Curtis family, is actually the starting point for the global destruction. However, before the special effects are cued, Jackson meets Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson), who looks and acts like a crazy "the end is near" expert. He informs Jackson that the Mayans got it right, and the world is doomed. He then shows him a delightful flash animated video about how the core is heating up, which will cause the Earth's crust to shift. The video resembles the infamous, "Hokay, so Here's the Earth," animation, because, as Frost states, the only way to get the people to understand is through humor. He also mentions that China is building ships to escape the impending doom for a small fee of $1 billion Euros (Note to self: start saving money for a plane ticket to China by 2012).
After returning from a shortened trip, Jackson returns to his job as a limo driver. He drives Yuri Karpov, a Russian billionaire, and Yuri's spoiled children to the airport. The children taunt Jackson about having tickets for the ships, saying they will live and Jackson will die. Recalling what Frost had said earlier, Jackson rents a small plane and calls Kate (Amanda Peet), his ex-wife, to tell her he is on his way to pick them up. While listening to "The Governator," (convincingly played by Lyndall Grant), who assures them that the worst is over, Kate tells Jackson that he is just overreacting. Of course, Jackson, being the hero of the film, is not overreacting, and saves his family just in time. From here on out, all plausibility has apparently fallen through the cracks of Los Angeles, as Jackson tries to get his family onto one of those ships.
"2012" is a disaster film, so action sequences have to be exciting enough to pull the crowd in. However, the film fails to follow the motto "less is more." From driving a limo that narrowly outruns the crumbling road to flying a plane that narrowly outruns the runway, the audience is not given time to breathe between the scenes, and, in turn, suffocates.
It seems as though "2012" was doomed from the start. Director Roland Emmerich had the daunting task of making this the disaster movie of all disaster movies. In an interview with USA Today, Emmerich recalls, "I said to myself that I'll do one more disaster movie, but it has to end all disaster movies. So I packed everything in," and this unfortunately shows. There are elements from "Volcano," "Airport '77," "Deep Impact," "Poseidon" and "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow" (both directed by Emmerich). It was just too much. The over-the-top stunts made the film more laughable than intense. Too bad it was not meant to be the comedy of the year.
The end of the world is no laughing matter, but the film "2012" certainly is. Perhaps Frost was right: the only way to get the people's attention is through humor.