2012 (2009)

Roland Emmerich does big budget disaster flicks as well as Dairylea does cheese. However, some of his most recent attempts to dominate the box office have been panned by viewers and critics alike, who say that he has become too reliant on special effects.

Unfortunately, those critics better look away now, as his new film is the biggest yet.

2012 takes place, well, in 2012 for the most part and features an array of big Hollywood names attracted none the less by the huge box office forecasts for the film. The premise is simple; here comes the end of the world and god should we run!

With a reported budget of over $200m which is more than Michael Bay spent on his worldwide smash Transformers: Revenge of the fallen, Emmerich was certainly able to splash out on some eye popping CGI.

2012 reads like The Day After Tomorrow on a steroid, which is no bad thing, but that film had some hideously underdeveloped characters and lacked the depth needed to allow viewers to share compassion for the people who had been affected by the global crisis.

Thankfully it seems that Emmerich has learnt his lesson here and has provided us with a back-story and it comes in many different forms. Thandie Newton and Danny Glover play president’s daughter and president respectively, a great deal of emotion has gone into writing these two characters and their on-screen scenes together, albeit a small amount, are wonderful.

John Cusack and Amanda Peet play divorced parents Jackson and Kate, only united by the love they share for their two young children and predictably later on in the film, a few deeper emotions. Unfortunately these two share no chemistry together and their on-screen scenes are flawed as a result.

2012 doesn’t have a huge deal of character development but it does improve on what was seen in The Day After Tomorrow and more recently, 10,000BC, with a deeper understanding of the characters. It ultimately succeeds in making the viewers share compassion for even the heartless characters in the film.

Moving on to the saving grace of all disaster films; the special effects, fans of major cities being destroyed are going to be pleased here with some eye-watering action pieces really showing why perhaps Emmerich overshadows even Michael Bay and has become the king of destroying anything that can be destroyed. There are a few questionable scenes, which look rather less than realistic, but this is a small point that doesn’t need to be taken into account.

Whilst all this may seem excellent, it all feels familiar, it’s all been seen and done before, so in reality 2012 adds nothing new to the genre which is unfortunate because it really is an excellent film.

Overall, 2012 is a mouth-watering treat in cinema engineering, apart from some lapses in scientific accuracy and some shaky special effects; it surpasses The Day After Tomorrow and similar disaster films by sheer depth. On the downside it adds nothing new to the formula, but if you want sheer popcorn fodder then please, look no further.


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