2012 (Roland Emmerich) 2009
If I may indulge in some pointless theater experience bitching. I know its annoying. It’s like friends who have to tell you about dreams they had last night but I just have to unburden. If you don’t care you can skip to the next paragraph which is the review. Okay, I’m sitting in the theater and we are at the scene where Ejiofor’s character is giving his passionate speech about humanity and whatnot. And next to me this dude starts eating his plastic bottle of soda. He is holding it like a corn on the cob and is literally chewing on it as if he didn’t know the way to get to the drink is to unscrew the top. This loud crumple crackle is going on for I shit you not five minutes and not only is he still doing it but everyone else is not saying a word. Eventually I said “Stop that please!” and he finally got the concept that maybe sort of behavior is just a bit odd. But really, did I miss something here? Is this normal behavior to eat your bottles and I just haven’t noticed it by now? Is this some east coast fad like fur boots with short shorts that is just coming to Arizona. I was just floored by this rather cro magnon behavior by this dude.
2012 follows much in the same tradition of Irwin Allen disaster movies of the 70’s: a big cast of veteran actors, paper thin characters, cliché story lines, and (in metric terms) a shit ton of special effects. I can appreciate a good B grade disaster movie like anyone else and I certainly won’t write off Emmerich just on the name. To his credit, 2012 is a solidly made movie of the same mold. The effects are incredible and he really does push it all out as he destroys the entire freaking world. It really is a spectacle. Aaaaand that is about where my glowing positives end.
Because 2012 is so much like the 70’s disaster movies of old, it also shares many of the same flaws. Primary among the flaws is its ass cramping length of 2 and a half hours. Again, this is not unique; Towering Inferno and Poseidon Adventure (just two examples among many) are also two and a half hours or even over. Towering Inferno is probably my favorite among the genre because of the pairing of Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, but even that does not make me love it. By the end of that movie, I was sure if I saw another shot of that building in flames I was going to put my head through the wall. I RARELY watch that movie and that is (without thinking too hard on this) my favorite disaster movie. The length just kills it for me. I have often wondered why all movies like this are so freaking long. After all, this is a movie by its very definition of all style and no substance. The only thing I can figure is that the director thinks people will not go for a short action packed movie. They want to give people their money’s worth and by god they will throw in everything and the kitchen sink to make an epic people will not feel jilted in paying their 10 dollars for. I highly disagree with that. If you made a tight 1 hr and 40 minute movie where its nothing but “shit blews up reeel good” then I would be satisfied with that. But this is not Shakespeare and we don’t need to dedicate 2 hrs and 30 minutes to this mindless crap.
But length is not everything if there is other stuff to keep the audience interested. This falls into the second problem with 2012 and the 70’s disaster movies it follows. Half of the movie is devoted to one dimensional characters and cliché plot lines. Cliché is actually being too kind to this movie and I wish I could think of a word that somehow takes cliché to a new level. I have seen these stories a billion times before (really, I’ve counted). We get the main story of a divorced couple that it takes the end of the world to get them back together. We get the children that hate their dad and call them by their first name until the end where they exclaim “WE LOVE YOU…DADDY!!!” We get the young lovers storyline and the old codgers that forget their past intolerance and reach out to their family in times of need. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the noble sacrifice plot thread either. This type of material is tolerable AT BEST but after two hours I officially reached the “I don’t give a fuck” stage. They could have easily cut 30 to even 40 minutes to make this more manageable. There is no excuse for this. I also love how w get the same chase scene THREE TIMES of a plane outrunning a crevice. Its strange we could come up with a drinking game for the action scenes.
There are some hilarious moments and most of them are unintentional. Woody Harrelson gives one of the most goofball performances of this year as conspiracy theorist/mountain man/radio host. His overacting is so shameful it somehow made me put my head in my hands. Someone also forgot to tell Ejiofor what kind of movie he was in. I love this actor and its a shame he wasted so much talent on this. He is spouting these lines like he’s going for the Oscar and its almost funny in the context of everyone else’s histrionics and overacting. Oliver Platt plays the token Republican dick, Danny Glover looks like he wants to kill himself he has so little energy, and we are surrounded by stock characters and insipid stereotypes.
In the end I can’t really recommend watching this in theaters. I know why people want to see it because it’s probably the same reasons I did: the special effects and the “so bad its good” storyline. I will say that the effects are great and that the plot is so ludicrous and stupid it will give you plenty of fodder for mocking. But that being said, this movie is still way to damn long. This would probably be better suited for DVD where you can skip past the more boring parts. So it was okay, but it should have been a lot shorter.