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Let's Pretend It's 2009 and 2012 Just Came Out

2012 movie poster roland emmerich Hey, kids. It's been a few months, but it's time for another cutting-edge film review for parents - meaning, "having all these kids means I don't get to see anything in a theater that doesn't feature talking animals, but thanks to the magic of DVD Blu-Ray, I manage to be only 6-10 months behind the zeitgeist." This month's installment brings us another banner addition to the long and proud tradition of craptastic apocalyptic cinema, á la The Core, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, War of the Worlds and the ne plus ultra of end of the world filmmaking (aka the greatest movie ever made) Armafuckinggeddon. Everyone, say hello to 2012.

(And once again, you're happy you waited five months to read a review. By someone who actually made the sacrifice of sitting through the film. Viva MamaPop!)

So... how is it? Allow me to summarize: it sucks, but in the most awesome way possible:

• Une Filme du Roland Emmerich. What Picasso was to Cubism... what Einstein was to physics... what Thomas Keller is to American Gastronomy and Shakespeare was to the English language, Roland Emmerich is to the cinema of blowin' shit up good.Is this his greatest triumph? Well... not to put too fine a point on it, but no. Not even top three (I'm sticking with Independence Day, The Patriot and Universal Soldier). That said, it's still worlds better than 10,000 B.C. And that's good enough for me.

• Danny Glover! He plays the Morgan Freeman role of the noble, stoic president facing down a disaster of historic proportions and having special moments with family members and trying to come off as statesmanlike and inspiring while speaking in low, gravelly tones about matters of great import. Also, he gets to play doting father to superultramegahot daughter Thandie Newton. Mmm... Thandie.

• Oliver Platt! He plays the Oliver Platt role of the pushing, obnoxious, hyper-smart but morally corrupt and ultimately hissable bureaucrat who plays a key role in the global effort to secretly build... um... arks... (that's right: arks.) to keep the human race and two of each kind of animal intact even after the world comes to an end. He is, as always, good as the dude you love to hate. Booooooo, Oliver Platt.

• Oh, right: end of the world stuff. Damn, there's just buttloads of impressive disaster shots here. Los Angeles collapsing into the sea? Done. Yellowstone exploding in insane volcanic fury? Done. Historic monuments crashing and exploding in spectacular fashion (e.g. the Washington Monument)? Done. Ginormous crazy tsunamis rushing up the sides of major mountain chains? Done. Well, okay - it was done first in Deep Impact, but those were the Rockies, and here it happens in the Himalayas and it's pretty well established as a scientific fact that the Himalayas kick ass over the Rockies. No offense, Mountain Time Zone friends, but you can't argue with the geology.John-Cusack-Woody-Harrelson-2012

•Woody Harrelson! He plays the Gary Busey role of the batshit crazy fringe journalist who uncovers a massive conspiracy to cover up the forthcoming end of the world (as well as the plans of the elite to build arks to avoid said apocalypse), only nobody believes him because he's got batshit crazy Gary Busey hair and eyes and vocal intonations and a kind of abiding fascination with large, phallic pickles. Gotta love the Woody Harrelson.

• Chiwetel Ejiofor! Actually, I had no idea what this guy's name was before the movie started, but he's pretty clearly the only actor here making an effort to build a legitimate character with depth and emotion, rather than a cartoon figure to be buffeted about by apocalyptic forces of nature. I think we can all rest comfortably in the knowledge that there are better days ahead for Chiwetel Ejiofor. 

• John Cusack! And then... there's Cusack, who's slumming in such remarkable fashion here that it's almost a slap in the face to those many of us who know and love him from the many, many, many tremendous roles he's taken on over the course of his career. Yeah, yeah, he was in Con Air back in the day, but we were all pretty much comfortable writing that off as a onetime money-grab/lapse in judgment. But this? Good lord. The thing is: he knows he's slumming, and there are moments in the film where his contempt for the material is so crystal clear that you find yourself expecting him to break into one of those witheringly sarcastic hyperintellectual bursts of staccato dialogue from High Fidelity or Being John Malkovich or... hell, any of a half-dozen other great films he's been in... and join us in making fun of the film even as we're having a blast watching Emmerich blow shit up.

So. What does this leave us with? The answer: exactly what we expected — two and a half hours of exhilarating stupidity, in which lots of things explode ('splosions are fun!) or collapse or end up victim to überquake/volcano/tsunami, lots of secondary characters die pointless and agonizing stupid film deaths, lots of actors we know and respect from other, better films thrash around amidst the 'splosions and earn big paychecks, and in the end... the power of love conquers all. Why? Because Roland Emmerich is a humanist, and that is the message he wants you to take away from this big shiny slab of apocalypse: Love. Conquers. All.


. . . . .
TwoBusy still believes in the power of Lloyd Dobler.






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Comments

katie | motherbumper

Danny Glover plays Morgan Freeman?!? SOLD! Actually, I'll just wait to watch it when it gets heavy play on TBS and I've lost the remote. Thanks for the sacrifice dude!

Mark

In respect to your 2010 review of a 2009 movie, I'll wait until 2013 to watch 2012. That way I can still bank on them being right and there not being a 2013.

Jen O.

Second worst movie in history.

Suzy Q

"2012" was a steaming turdpile. It had all the elements of a good-bad movie but somehow, it just turned out as a bad-bad movie.

norm

Chiwetel Ejiofor played the Operative in Serenity so he is automatically forgiven for this and any other future sins he may commit in Hollywood. Shiny! (and that's not incense)

lori

Excellent assessment. I remember thinking as we left the theater (yes. i know. we saw it in theater.) that it was just as stupid and awesome as I was expecting. At no point do you believe what you're watching but you also get into it and want to yell at him to push it harder and drive that limo away from the crack in the ground.

Also: Woody Harrelson: awesome.




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