Armageddon Without The Hook
MovieMike - wrote on 01/26/17
‘2012’ is yet another entry into the ‘end of the world’ genre of films. This movie sticks closely to the now familiar pattern established by predecessors such as ‘Armageddon’, ‘Deep Impact’, and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. Director, Roland Emmerich, also served as producer on the latter film and other special effects laden projects such as ‘Independence Day’ and ’10,000 B.C.’
The story centers on Jackson Curtis, played by John Cusack (‘Martian Child’, ‘Ice Harvest’, ‘Must Love Dogs’), who is a frustrated author, divorcee, and considered a bit of an under-achiever by those around him. Jackson inadvertently stumbles upon a possible government cover-up of a pending disaster and immediately tries to spirit his kids, ex-wife, and her current husband to safety. This is where the real roller-coaster ride begins as we see scene after scene of this major cataclysm unfolding.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (‘American Gangster’, ‘Inside Man’) plays another key character, Adrian Helmsley, a government scientist who is coordinating the findings of various other colleagues and attempting to sound the alarm over the pending disaster. Danny Glover (‘Lethal Weapon’ – all of them!) does a decent job as the U.S. President. We also get a cameo by George Segal as part of an aging lounge act duo who happens to be doing a cruise ship gig at an inopportune time. The one character that is a standout has to be Woody Harrelson, who plays a conspiracy hound and underground radio broadcaster. His limited screen time is still a hoot to watch.
The special effects are over the top, to be sure, and the movie is mostly playing off of formula laid down by many previous disaster flicks with perceptible nods to ‘Poseidon Adventure’, ‘Towering Inferno’, and ‘Airport’. The two things that really weigh down this film are length and the relentless narrow escapes by Jackson and his group of would-be survivors. With a run time of over 2 ½ hours, the film feels a bit tedious at times. The continual harrowing escapes of the main characters become overblown and more improbable with each scene. Added attempts to build tensions actually border on annoying.
As sheer entertainment, ‘2012’ certainly delivers. It’s always amazing to see just how good special effects have become – especially if you like seeing things blown up. The hook missing here is the potential for any of this to actually happen. Films like ‘Deep Impact’ worked because we know asteroids are really out there. In this scenario we have planet alignments, solar activity, and neutrinos – as involving a physics subject as you’d want to tackle. Coupled with some vague references to the Mayan calendar, a root cause for this end of the world scenario is just too muddied to stir an audience. So, if your looking for plausibility, I’d leave your skepticism at the movie theater door and just go along for the ride.