by Rick Grant
Writer-director, Roland Emmerich of Independence Day fame conjured up this big budget end-of-the-world epic after reading the Mayan prophecies of the apocalypse happening in December, 2012 when the planets line up. Of course, it’s junk science but makes an intriguing premise for the mother of all disaster movies.
In this scenario, not even the Vatican is spared as people gather in the square to pray as a mega-earthquake and tsunami obliterates everyone. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
In the classic formulaic disaster movie, and this one is no exception, there must be a build-up of character development so the audience can care about the everyday people put in mortal danger. There is even the obligatory dog, that the viewers must worry about throughout the catastrophe. Rest assured, no animals were harmed during the making of this film.
Of course, the viewers must suspend their disbelief by the miraculous way the chosen ones (the stars) manage to stay just a hair’s breath away from the onslaught of the approaching mega-volcano, that rips apart Yellowstone. The characters are escaping one mega-disaster after another in a limo, RV, a small plane, and finally, a huge Russian transport loaded with prestige cars.
As the characters are introduced, viewers can have fun guessing who will make it to the end and who is killed in a ghastly way. Here’s a hint: The main character Jackson Curtis’ (John Cusack) wife’s new husband will not make it. Hey, three’s a crowd and that’s an easy guess. Jackson has to get his wife back to resolve this issue.
Meanwhile, the build-up starts in 2009 when some Indian physicist discovers that a recent corona mass expulsion (CMP) from the sun (a massive solar flare) has microwaved the Earth’s core, which will eventually lead to destructive plate shifts, that will, in turn, lead to mega-earthquakes, continent swallowing tsunamis, and California falling into the sea. Hurray, there goes the neighborhood, the county, and the state.
Yes, but when the scientist Dr. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiiofor) tries to warn the government big wigs, he is rebuffed. Then his persistence pays off. The Earth-ending scenario is given top secret clearance by the U.S. President, Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover). He assembles the leaders of the world who decide not to tell the public that in 2012, the Earth will go through disastrous changes, the likes of which no one had ever contemplated.
Dr. Adrian Helmsley now must deal with the ethics of not warning the public that their world will end soon. But he’s too busy to worry about that in the early stages of the oncoming disaster. He’s also got the hots for the president’s daughter.
As the dreaded count down to oblivion approaches, there is a secret rescue plan in effect, but only for chosen people or those wealthy enough to buy a ticket. As usual, the rich get preference and the poor get a giant tsunami dropping tons of water on their heads.
This plan involves the morality of who really has the right to escape the pending end-of-days, and who is written off. A subplot develops about Jackson Curtis’ book, which only sold 400 copies, but turns out to be prophetic and adopted as gospel by Dr. Helmsley.
Meanwhile, Curtis takes his kids to Yellowstone and encounters a crazy disc-jockey, Charlie Frost, played by scene stealing Woody Harrelson. He’s your quintessential conspiracy buff and freewheeling ex-hippie who spreads his end-of-the- world theories on his talk radio station, broadcast from his RV parked in Yellowstone. The thing is: his theories are right and he has important evidence that Curtis and his family need to find the rescue operation.
This is classic disaster fare but on a grand scale. Emmerich spared no expense on the CGI special effects which are mind boggling.
Overall, it’s an exciting film that makes one appreciate breathing the air on mother Earth.
2012 Movie Review
by Rick Grant