In terms of end-of-the-world movies, 2012 packs it all — a love story, teary family moments, action-packed adventure, over-the-top-CGI, and a ton of recycled film cliches — in a two and a half hour package. That's lengthy by today's standards, but I wasn't bored for a minute. This is pure escapist entertainment.
The film opens in 2009 as a scientist in India and his American associate Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) discover that the Earth's core is overheating. His forecast: Tectonic plates will shift, thereby causing a worldwide catastrophe that will wipe out the human race.
Dun, dun, dun! (Doesn't take long to pull you in, does it?) To hear my full assessment,
The real action goes down three years later in 2012 when, according to the Mayan calendar, the Earth will reach its end. The entire So-Cal coast starts crumbling, so our hero Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) and his family begin a journey to China where the governments around the world have supposedly assembled spaceships to carry select humans to safety.What? You expected this to be plausible?
Of course not, but the film does include tons of cool CGI — volcanos, snow storms, giant tsunamis. It's like every disaster movie you've ever watched combined. (That should come as no surprise seeing as how the director is Roland Emmerich who created The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, and Godzilla.)
As for the characters, we've seen them all stereotyped in other films before, but they're still enjoyable here. (Even though I admittedly winced over a Russian family complete with a fur coat, tiny dog, and an employee named Sasha.) This is thanks to the actors who play their parts with believability, even when the scenes feel ridiculous. Ejiofor portrays a great bleeding heart swept up in a governmental plan that's looking out for No. 1, and Cusack pulls off his father role without being over-the-top or sappy. Also, watch for Woody Harrelson as a nutty conspiracy theorist living in Yellowstone National Park.
2012 is purely meant to be fun, and it succeeds. There's a constant barrage of cliff-hanger moments that never let up, and though you pretty much know where things are headed, it's easy to get sucked in.
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Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures