2012 Movie Review: An Exhausting Push-Pull of Nonsensery

In 2012, the world sinks into… the world. A ridiculous, nonsensical, pseudo-comedic bit of film making, 2012 made me wish for the end of the world.

Metamorphosing gamma rays zingalinged the subterranean super magma in the core of the earth, when the sun had a temper tantrum and mutated the falafel crust. Meanwhile, writer and limo driver, nearly dead-beat father Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) takes his children camping in Yellowstone. While there, the kid’s mother, Kate (Amanda Pete), is one of the first affected by the rutabaga tectonic changes in the earth. As the earth begins to collapse, Jackson struggles to save his children, his ex wife, and her husband. They meet Caesars Palace and Bentley Automobiles along the way.

Don’t believe that’s the plot? Well, too bad. The writers Roland Emmerich (also the director) and Harald Kloser didn’t bother to try to make sense with the science. They just string scientific words together and hoped no one would be smart enough to notice. Why not just say my grandma’s whirly-gig collection set in motion a series of earthquakes and tsunami’s that was powerful enough to wipe away all life? Or a team of butterfly enthusiasts trained butterflies to flap at the same time? That would make far more sense than the plot they offered up.

2012 gave me tendonitis in my jaw from overuse in two hours and forty minutes. Just when you think it will be a good old fashioned action movie, it becomes a tongue in cheek comedy. I spent the entire movie putting a tongue in my cheek, taking it out, grinding my teeth, putting it in, taking it out, grinding, in, out, grinding. (I’ll stop there because it’s beginning to sound a bit pornographic.)

If the push-pull wasn’t enough in theme, the film makers did it again with the plot. A good portion of the movie revolves around taking off, launching, peeling out, landing, parking or docking. The size of the cars, planes, boats, and ships changed, but the action is the same. Generally, the characters are saying, “Oh no, can we get to the (insert mode of transportation here) before the (select one: a. ground shifts underneath our feet, killing us when we are crunched in the core of the earth or b. fire comes from the sky and lands on our mode of transportation and burns us alive, or c. a sudden influx of water swirls around us, drowning us around our family) and the people who are relying on us.” Then they revel in the fact that they did in fact catch that (insert mode of transportation here), until they have to land it in a tenuous place. The only variation on the back and forth theme is the occasional awkward love related scene, be it romantic love, parental love or estranged love. Even this variation runs on a loop through 2012.

The special effects can’t live up to their name, either. They are just bad enough to make them seem artificial. They reminded me of those plastic trees that are almost good enough to pass for the real thing, but can’t, and it makes the person viewing them feel a bit stupid for almost falling for it.

Most infuriating about 2012 was the shameless and endless plot rewrites to fit the product placement and product features. Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas is as essential to the plot as their stop there. Yet we have to see chips, billboards, and hotel signs with their name and logo on it over and over and over again. Bentley bought extended prime marketing spots in the film. We see the logo, the characters say the name repeatedly, the writers don’t even try to pretend it isn’t product placement.

2012 is the longest 2 hours and forty minutes in recent memory. I might have been less exhausted if I had actually lived through this tragedy. I’m off to massage my jaw and cry a little bit for the loss of life in the theater – mine.

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Tags: 2012, movie, review

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Comment by Sentient Biped on November 17, 2009 at 9:00pm
Randall,
Thank goodness for that! Of course, it's only set 2 years into the future, but who knows what we'll acheive before the earth's core starts heating up.

I actually DID like the movie, it was like any other sci fi or fantasy movie, like you say, reality needs to be suspended. I really liked #1 and #2 (I'm a BAD boy).

Someone at work commented that if you can hack into an Alien's world-destroying mothership with an apple computer, you can talk on a cellphone during a tsunami. My response to that was that any apple product is just totally awsome and you can probably hack into an alien mothership with an ipod. Oh, different movie!

Let's see if I can think of something else to be happy about..... ummm.... ummmm.....

Oh! The government conspiracy aspect. I LOVE conspiracies. That was cool too.
Comment by RTH on November 17, 2009 at 8:00pm
Daniel Pio Apostata,

Regarding number 5 ("There was one particularly stupid scene in which a guy was using his cell phone to call his friend, after the cell phone towers must certainly have collapsed long before."):
I thought that they were using satphones, which would have avoided the need for cell phone towers. I know the phones looked more like cell phones than satphones, but I attributed this to the film being set in the future and the calling parties both being scientists who had access to cutting-edge technology.
Comment by Sentient Biped on November 17, 2009 at 4:33pm
I thought the movie was worth seeing, although not for the reasons that the directors/producers probably wanted. I was especially happy about:

1. I got to see the Vatican collapse on the catholic faithful.
2. I got to see the big Jesus in Rio collapse.
3. There was no religious woo woo about god saving humanity.
4. The big black Muslim Rubic's cube was pictured, and I got to tell people why it didn't collapse (fear of Fatwa by the movie's director)
5. There was one particularly stupid scene in which a guy was using his cell phone to call his friend, after the cell phone towers must certainly have collapsed long before.
6. I started by guessing which characters would die, and how they would die, and which ones would be saved. I was right on almost all of them.
7. I also predicted in the first 30 minutes who would find romance at the end, and I was right. I love being right.
8. Everyone always like seeing LA destroyed. It's kind of like seeing Popeye beat up Bluto. It's just fun. Same with the white house. I don't recall them getting in a scene of the Statue of Liberty getting destroyed, so that was disappointing.
9. We got to see that the evil super-rich people actually have a function. Even the Queen of England and her corgies.

The only thing that was really missing from the movie was the 2012 election. Which would have happened if the movie was realistic - it does have presidential scenes. If Sarah Palin is in it and wins, the entire world will point nukes at itself and commit suicide. That's the true disaster of 2012.
Comment by RTH on November 17, 2009 at 12:56am
I actually liked the movie.

I have no problem suspending disbelief for the sake of appreciating a film, so the nonsense of the science was not a problem. (I like movies about angels, too.)

I liked the comedic aspects. I'm generally not a fan of action films and special effects films, so a dose of comedy was a pleasant surprise.

I also liked the casting...A LOT. John Cusack is not your typical action hero. The other main parts were well-filled, too.

Fifteen minutes or so into the movie, I was wondering if the story was going to actually make use of all the different characters we were seeing in different parts of the world. Since so many of them were played by big-name actors, I figured it had to. I think the filmmakers did a good job of justifying such a large and diverse cast of characters.

There was, also, a message about how we should treat each other. I know it was one that we've heard a million times before and it wasn't really told in a new way in 2012, but it's a message worth repeating.
Comment by Hal Prentice on November 16, 2009 at 9:40pm
Fun review. Thanks. Have you seen these: 2012 "IHC TV Spot & 2012: It's a Disaster!
Comment by Chris Crowder on November 16, 2009 at 8:24pm
My wife and I went to see 2012, and I agree that it makes a mockery of science, but that did not stop us from enjoying the film. We went to see the movie just for the massive carnage, and trust me it lived up to my expectations, but we fully realize that its based on pseudoscienctific nonsense.
Comment by Starscream on November 16, 2009 at 5:04pm
Oh, lordy lordy on some ancient Mayan calender, they predicted the end of the world. I can't believe people fall for this crap. I remember in 1994 or something there was a show where the egyptian pyramid calender said the world was going to end on May 5, 1999, and they had nostradamus predictions we'd be 2 years into a third world war by then. I never heard a thing about it in actual 1999.

And then the obvious Jan 1, 2000, and I'm sure there were doomsday events that have come and gone before those.

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