Extravagant disaster movie + Mayan predictions = “2012”

Dann Fry

When the first teaser for “2012” came out more than a year ago, I, for some reason, thought it wouldn’t be the most over-the-top and ridiculously bad disaster movie I’d ever seen. But it is.

For those concerned, the world is not, in fact, in danger of ending from mutant neutrinos emitted by solar flares. Roland Emmerich’s “2012” though, is a moderately interesting depiction of what that might look like.

The film stars John Cusack as Jackson Curtis, an unsuccessful author and limo driver who must rescue his disjointed family and transport them to a secret base in the Himalayas, where the government is attempting to rescue a fragment of humanity in giant “arks.”

The highlights of “2012”–and the only reason anyone is going to see it–are the scenes of cataclysmic destruction. It’s the kind of movie Blu-Ray was made for, although a number of the CG sequences (I’ll just say it now: John Cusack pilots a limo through a collapsing skyscraper) resemble video games from 2002.

Impressive visuals aside, “2012” clunks along with plot and dialog worthy of Razzie nominations. I’d like to blame John Cusack, but I don’t think there’s anything any actor could have done with the miserably clichéd speeches and generic plot that borrows from every disaster movie ever made.

The only substantive storyline besides “the world is ending” is a conflict between Curtis, his ex-wife, and her new husband–I won’t spoil the ending to that one, but I’ll give you a hint: it involves giant interlocking gears.

The comedy–besides the sheer absurdity of every single scene, which is comedy enough–is similarly limited. The highlight of scripted humor, for example, is probably a scene in which Thomas McCarthy’s character says to his wife (Curtis’s ex), “it feels like something is pulling us apart,” immediately followed by a massive tectonic rift erupting directly between them, while they’re shopping for macaroni.

With an insulting amount of junk science comparable to the “restart the core of the Earth” theme of “The Core,” the majority of “2012” leaves logic to fend for itself. Possibly the most entertaining bit is the progression of increasingly large vehicles John Cusack manages to outrun the apocalypse in: a limo outrunning the collapsing L.A. cityscape, an RV dodging meteors after the eruption of a supervolcano, a small plane outrunning the ash cloud of said supervolcano, a cargo plane escaping Las Vegas before it explodes, a Bentley driven out of the cargo bay of the plane while it lands on a glacier in the Himalayas, and finally, a massive “ark” built to withstand the apocalyptic tsunamis (which somehow level out the ocean at about 25,000 feet above sea level), which misses crashing into Mount Everest by a mere 10 meters. After Bentleys, supervolcanoes, Mount Everest, and giant boats are used up, there’s nothing left except to go into space (which, unfortunately, they never do), so the movie ends.

For those who like Michael Bay but have exhausted his filmography, “2012” is probably one of the best alternatives out there. It’s got nothing to qualify as a legitimately good movie, and within a year will undoubtedly be added to that list of laughable apocalypse blockbusters alongside “Armageddon,” “The Core,” “The Day After Tomorrow”; however, “2012’s” nonstop emphasis on destruction will inevitably leave most viewers satisfied.