Here’s a question for you, if you had to transport elephants to China would you: a) put them on a boat b) put them on a plane or c) suspend them in harnesses from helicopters, un-tranquilised. If you chose c, according to the writers of 2012 you would be correct. Unfortunately for me this ridiculous plot detail of Roland Emmerich’s new disaster movie was one of many. Another particular gem involved a couple of Monks enjoying what looked like a cup of Tetley tea. You don’t need to do much background research to know milk in tea is not generally the norm in Tibet.
This pathetic excuse of a film revolves around Jackson (played by an overstretching John Cusack) who has discovered the end of the world is nigh and is trying to reach the world’s only emergency arks with ex wife Kate (Amanda Peet) and their two cutesie Hollywood kids. There are also a couple of hanger-ons including a new boyfriend, who luckily turns out to be an amateur pilot, and several disposable characters with corny Russian accents. Now add to this generic foundation a sub-plot about the sacrificing President (Danny Glover, trying and failing) and his beautiful daughter (Thandie Newton, also failing) and you have yourself a Blockbuster.
The worst thing about watching this film was its lack of emotional timing. The dramatic scenes, or what I took to be the dramatic scenes, were peppered with lame one-liners that completely ruined the atmosphere. Then, the emotional scenes were destroyed by the director’s insistence on cutting back to action shots and CGI as quickly as possible. However, having said this, the CGI was the best thing about this film, but it was horrendously overused and eventually relied upon to haul the film through two and a half hours of last minute escapes. Seriously, they should have called the film “Short Runways” because they popped up every two minutes, “Oops we’re falling off a runway again kids, hold on and wait for the terrible jokes”.
Of course, 2012 had to try its hand at some science, but it all came out sounding flimsy and transparent. Even if these things could happen in theory (apparently Earth Crust Displacement Theory is a real thing, even if it sounds made up) the direction of this film made it impossible to believe. I mean how can we take the science seriously when the characters try to escape its consequences in a limo past a giant doughnut rolling down the street? And then a sewer pipe bursts on the car bringing another opportunity for stupid jokes! Emmerich even managed to slip in some pop psychology about the reason one of the kids kept wearing hats, it was pointless to the story and just made me wonder if the little girl had a bad hair cut. Oh and don’t worry; the disaster wasn’t monopolised by the USA, there was a spectacular shot of the Vatican collapsing and a few cursory news reports about some destroyed capital cities. Plus, the Queen was saved but she was unfortunately played by what looked like a man in drag, and was only recognisable by a couple of corgis trailing behind her.
And to finish, here is another bit of 2012 trivia… Did you know that even as the world is being destroyed from the inside out, mobile phones curiously continue to work? Hmmm.