Saturday, November 14, 2009

Movie Review: 2012

2012 is probably what you'll spend on this movie for ticket, popcorn and soda if you go by yourself to a matinee show. My cost was $20.75, so pretty close. Why do I mention popcorn? Because this is a good popcorn movie. Roland Emmerich who brought us Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow brings us his latest "Look out world, something bad is about to happen" movie. Clocking in at 2 hours and 38 minutes, you could go through a LOT of popcorn. For me about about 90 minutes into the movie that large soda needed some attention, if you know what I mean other than that, it moved right along.

In this apocalyptic movie the reason the world is going to end has nothing to do with aliens as in Independence Day or nature getting back at mean old nasty man for not treating the earth like a goddess from The Day After Tomorrow. This time, it's pure physics and science with a bit of spiritual thrown in on the side. At least science and physics that make for the storyline. The planets are about to align and sun spot activity is throwing off neutrinos bombarding the earth's core heating it up causing the destabilization of the crust which is as you know where man lives. This end of time is tied in with Mayan calendar which stops in 2012 and the beliefs of other indigenous peoples. Based on this movie we know why their calendars stopped.

We are given a glimpse back in 2009 of what's happening. A scientist in India played by Jimi Mistry of The Guru (cute movie worth a look on rental) calls scientist friend Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to the world's deepest copper mine. Satnam (Mistry) shows Adrian some pretty shocking evidence and theorizes as to what's going to happen to the earth. Adrian runs back to Washington DC and informs the President's Chief of Staff, Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt) of the bad situation. We then get glimpses over the following years of things happening like the evacuation of people from Chinese highlands to make way for a dam and the replacement of the Mona Lisa with a copy to keep if safe from vandals.

We jump to the year 2012 where we meet our hero Jackson Curtis played by John Cussack who is a published author lives in the LA area who lost his family in the process of ignoring them while be focused on his book. Since his book didn't do all that well, he drives a limo to help make ends meet. Through a series of events he ends up meeting Adrian in Yellow Stone National Park and Charlie Frost a conspiracy theorist. Charlie (Woody Herrelson) has been broadcasting to the world that it's about to end, the world governments know about it but are leaving the people clueless.

Jackson ends up back in LA just as all hell breaks loose. Apparently Adrian's time lines and calculatons aren't right, a recurring theme along the way. They have less time than expected. Jackson gets his old family along with the new husband in the limo and then navigates through a crumbling LA avoiding fissures, upheavals of land, falling highways, sky scrapers being reduced to pebbles and scattered cars better then any professional stunt driver. How does he know how to do this? It's never explained. He's either very, very skilled or just one massively lucky son of a gun!

He gets to the airport and again, oh so lucky, Gordon, the new husband has an inkiling on how to fly a plane. Time and time again, this family is very lucky to miss massive disaster after disaster. They have to go back to Yellow Stone and then Las Vegas and finally over to China where the G8 have been building giant arks to save people.

All through out the film, time tables get pushed up. Decisions have to be made. Do you be very pragmatic as Carl does throughout or do you take the humanistic approach which is Adrian's part of the movie. These are questions dotted throughout the movie. Do you just forget about people and worry about yourself, do you risk your life for family and what about strangers people that have had no connections prior to this moment.

There are several tsunamis in this film as crust breaks and the mantle of the earth shifts. There is one scene reminiscent of Deep Impact where the wave is coming and one person stands there knowing what their fate will be in 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds. I can't help but think, back in 2004 in Indonesia and more recently the Samoas while they didn't have a 1500ft wave heading towards them, they had to make decisions like these as water was rushing in and around them. While I hope that no of us ever have to make these kinds of decisions you have to wonder what would I and what could I do if placed in this sort of situation.

Enough of the reality for a moment let's jump back to fantasy. For this film you really have to suspend a lot of what you know in order for this movie to work. Cars jumping over things and not damaging the under carriage, that a plane can fly through an ash cloud and not have the engines get choked out, that the secret can be kept and that ships the size shown in the movie could have enough natural resources, technology and man power to build them in the given time frame are among some of the points that you leave scratching your head.

The special effects were incredible. The film is rated PG-13. While we see hundreds and thousands of people dying enmasse, you don't see it happen directly. You see a body afterward or just before, but you don't see that last second directly. Emmerich likes to take out the White House in his movies and this was no exception. Seeing large land masses ending up bobbing in a sense like ice cubes in a glass or a wave washing over part of the Himalayas were eye candy. Irwin Allen would be proud of the ocean liner meets big wave scene. For me, seeing his interpretation of what would happen to my home in Hawaii was interesting. If this one tower near me was gone I could see Diamond Head from my Apartment in Paradise which would definitely be a hot spot!

So take a healthy does of suspension of belief, grab that large soda and popcorn, sit down and just have a good time. If you buy some of those white cheese, cheddar cheese or kettle corn sprinkle toppings for the pop corn, it will be all that much more fun!