Remember that scene from 'Return of the Jedi' when the rebels destroy the Death Star, and the Millennium Falcon zooms out from the flames and smoke at the last minute? Imagine that scene happening at least ten times during the movie, take away the incredible rush you felt at that moment, and there you have '2012' - for a $200 million price tag, of course.

Co-writer and director Ronald Emmerich's latest epic disaster-porn is a mindless collection of explosions, junk science, and corny, inappropriately jokey dialogue. Emmerich and his effects team seek to defy even the most basic laws of physics: why does a subway train shoot into the air (we're talking thousands of feet up here) as the rest of a metropolis crumbles to the ground? How does a hot ball of volcanic rock hit a Winnebago and the trailer not explode? How does a luxury Bentley automobile filled with people safely eject from the belly of an ancient Russian airliner and land on an icy glacier, with no apparent injuries as a result?

'2012' will have you asking these questions, and oh so many more.

Warning: Mini-Spoilers Ahead!
Remember that scene from 'Return of the Jedi' when the rebels destroy the Death Star, and the Millennium Falcon zooms out from the flames and smoke at the last minute? Imagine that scene happening at least ten times during the movie, take away the incredible rush you felt at that moment, and there you have '2012' - for a $200 million price tag, of course.

Co-writer and director Ronald Emmerich's latest epic disaster-porn is a mindless collection of explosions, junk science, and corny, inappropriately jokey dialogue. Emmerich and his effects team seek to defy even the most basic laws of physics: why does a subway train shoot into the air (we're talking thousands of feet up here) as the rest of a metropolis crumbles to the ground? How does a hot ball of volcanic rock hit a Winnebago and the trailer not explode? How does a luxury Bentley automobile filled with people safely eject from the belly of an ancient Russian airliner and land on an icy glacier, with no apparent injuries as a result?

'2012' will have you asking these questions, and oh so many more.

Warning: Mini-Spoilers Ahead!

Starring 80s hot stuff John Cusack (in one of many questionable casting choices) as two-bit author and divorced dad Jackson Curtis, the movie is book-ended by cliches and follows the disaster-film formula to the last ingredient. Curtis is down on his luck, having written a sub-par book that sold less than 500 copies, and his ex-wife Kate (Amanda Peet) is shacking up with a plastic surgeon. Luckily Curtis knows many things about the end of the world, since that's apparently what he specializes in - that, and cheating death in ridiculous ways at every turn.

He takes his cute wide-eyed son and daughter on an impromptu trip to Yellowstone Park, and discovers that the lake at which he used to woo his ex-wife has dried up and disappeared. Something's fishy, or not fishy, as the case may be. Of course the government SWAT team shows up and points its guns at the man with his two children - because guarding a dried-up lake at a national park is a priority when the whole world is on the verge of extinction. Coincidentally, the guy in charge of the 'world crisis' situation, geologist Adrian Helmsley (played sincerely by Chiwetel Ejiofor), is one of the few people who bought Curtis' book, and as such has a soft spot for him, so he dispatches the SWAT team (The military? Listening to a scientist? Please.) and advises Curtis to leave the park.

He doesn't leave before meeting park conspiracy nutjob Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson), who fills Curtis in on the whole situation in his crusty old Winnebago. Harrelson's character is the one solace in this movie, and he doesn't have nearly enough screen time. In fact, the movie would have been much more appealing if Harrelson was the main character, but then we wouldn't have the divorced-family-on-the-mend cliche to follow. A wasted opportunity.

Here, the movie reaches its disaster climax, where most of the world's monuments and natural formations are destroyed in one way or another. The weirdest thing about the movie is how these things fall apart. It's as if Emmerich decided to go with the most obvious way in nearly every situation. The Las Vegas Strip, torn up the middle by a giant chasm, California swallowed up into the Pacific, Brazil's Christ the Redeemer tipping over, the Sistine Chapel cracking right through the centre of The Creation of Adam painting. At least the White House gets it in a way you won't expect, though it's about as improbable as the entire premise of the film.

Even the powers that be are weak and unnecessarily sappy. The US president, normally a source of vigour and hope for the disillusioned masses, is played by a wooden Danny Glover. He's no match for Morgan Freeman, who's played president many times in these disaster movies. Glover at times seems drunk, and his slurred, stumbling speeches are a trial to sit through. Even dumber still: who's going to be sitting watching a TV broadcast when the world is about to end? And how are satellites/TV cables even functioning when the Earth's crust has shifted by thousands of kilometres?

The over 2.5-hour running time makes the film nearly impossible to condense for purposes of review, but just know that out of 6 billion people affected by the Earth's destruction, a select handful are inexplicably connected by affairs and coincidental relationships, and most of them survive on the government-created 'arks'. Oh, and of course the pet dog survives. We have no problem watching a couple of old ladies in a Studebaker crash and die, but a little Pomeranian dying? Perish the thought.

In short, everything about '2012' is implausible, from the unfortunate Russian accents to the mind-boggling joke of an ending. You'll enjoy yourself if you're into over-the-top CGI and explosion-gasms, and can suspend disbelief at every turn. If this is what the apocalypse is going to be like for humanity, then lord help us all.

One star.
CATEGORIES Reviews, Hot Topic