I didn’t catch 2012 in theaters, but I heard what everyone was saying and I knew it wasn’t nice. However, I held out hope because I really wanted to defend the movie and say that we should appreciate it for being fun. I typically like these kind of movies and despite the negativity, I was still excited about it. But it wasn’t meant to be and I quickly learned that the negativity I had heard wasn’t even close to being harsh enough. This movie isn’t even close to being enjoyable.
It took about 20 minutes before I understood anything that was said in the film. It’s not because they were speaking “too technical” or that the script was over my head, it’s because the dialogue was nonsensical and completely random. It sounded like a little kid wearing a doctor’s coat and pretending to be smart. That’s when I knew that the people who wrote the script had absolutely no comprehension of science beyond a fifth grade level. And this is coming from a guy that thought they did a good job in ARMAGEDDON of making it seem believable, so I’m not quick to insult the intelligence of a screenwriter. But anything involving the science of 2012 was ridiculous.
By now, you’ve probably heard that the world is going to end on December 21st of 2012. This particular date is “famous” because to the ancient Mayans, this was their day for Armageddon (the end of the world, not a screening of the Michael Bay film). In the film, we start in 2009 when two scientists discover the increased temperatures of the earth’s core and that leads them to deduce that the world will end in 2012. We pick up again in 2012 as the prediction has started to come true. Aside from a few government types, we also follow the events through the eyes of Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a struggling author and divorcee that’s taking his kids to Yellowstone. For some reason, Yellowstone is the center of where all of this destruction is taking place and Jackson and his kids get a firsthand look at what’s about to come.
As of this point, we haven’t seen anything interesting. This is a big-budget, high concept, end of the world film and it took almost 30 minutes to get to the first action sequence. The first action sequence is Jackson and his family racing through LA in a limousine while the city is destroyed around them. You’ve probably heard that this scene is great and the effects are amazing. I hate to break this to you, but this is one of the worst CGI scenes we’ve seen in the past five years. The destruction of the city is great, but any scene involving the car and especially scenes that cut to the actors in the car are embarrassingly bad. Remember those old SNL skits where people would be in a car and extras would hold cardboard cut outs behind them to make it look like the car was moving? That’s exactly what this looked like. But the path of the car and the scale of the car to rest of the world was completely off. At times it either looked gigantic or miniature; and that’s just a lazy effort from the special effects team.
But it’s an end-of-the-world film and so they have to have some sort of human element to keep people emotionally involved. Love him or hate him, Michael Bay understands this and usually manages to excel in that arena. He should give Roland Emmerich some lessons because Emmerich seems to have no understanding of how to get audiences emotionally involved in characters. Even with the likeable John Cusack, I couldn’t have cared less about the fate of Jackson Curtis and during his blatant POSEIDON rip-off at the end, I was just waiting for the film to end.
I didn’t want to be another critic that took shots at 2012, but this was a horrible film. So to sum up, this film had bad acting, atrocious dialogue, b-grade special effects and screenwriters that couldn’t be bothered with research. Audiences don’t need much to be entertained, but I don’t even think these guys were trying.
I have admit that as I started watching these special features, I kept waiting for someone to burst out laughing. Something just didn’t seem right as everyone was talking about “what an important movie they were making” or how this is “the best film we’ve made”. Were they joking? Was this just a gag to make fun of the audience? I guess not because they kept their serious tone throughout.
Video: There’s no denying that this 2.40:1 widescreen transfer was wonderful. Although the CGI needed some work, it at least looked beautiful.
Audio: As good as the video was, it couldn’t compare to the 5.1 DTS-HD audio track. This track is booming throughout and made the movie somewhat tolerable. This had some scenes that would work great to show off your system.
Commentary with Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser: Like I just mentioned, these guys take this film way too seriously. I felt like I was in a lecture where the guest speaker didn’t want to be there. As they move along in a very monotonous manner, they keep mentioning how important the film is and just dive into various aspects of the movie. I found it to be dry and a little forced.
Picture-in-picture: Roland’s vision: This is an alternate track you can play and serves as a picture-in-picture commentary where they cut to different interviews with the cast and crew and show some behind the scenes footage on the special effects. I thought it was a cool track and definitely a worthy extra for those that dug the film.
Alternate ending (3:58): This ending was a little odd and I guess this was the first theatrical ending. Neither were worth writing home about, but this ending is the lesser of the two.