‘2012’ won’t leave you running for cover

Scott Viau

Disaster movies have come a long way since the 70s. Instead of skyscrapers on fire and capsized cruise ships, we now see asteroids striking the earth and volcanoes erupting over major cities. “2012” is in the tradition of the latter films, and while the special effects are indeed great, the rest of film collapses under its own apocalypse.

In 2009 a solar flare of gigantic proportions released neutrinos that have inhabited the Earth’s core and are causing it to heat rapidly. Meetings are held all over the world about what should be done, but this information is kept quiet so as to quell any potential riots that might happen over who will, or will not, be saved. Three years later, author Jackson Curtis (Cusack) takes his kids on a camping trip and runs into a rather crazy man by the name of Charlie Frost (Harrelson), who claims that the world is indeed about to end. When Curtis returns to Los Angeles, the ground begins to give way as L.A. slowly sinks into the Pacific Ocean. Having been able to save his kids, ex-wife and her boyfriend, Curtis tries to protect his family from the onslaught of apocalyptic activities happening across the globe.

I think it’s somewhat unfair to say that the acting in a Roland Emmerich movie is bad. It’s never really the actors’ fault. It’s safe to say that everyone in this film does the best they can with the material they were given. The performances are at least consistently realistic, although the situations they are put in are not. Although I’m not a fan of John Cusack, he’s likeable here as an author whose book has sold only around 500 copies. His ex-wife, played by Amanda Peet, convincingly portrays a mother who is very concerned about the safety of her children and the well-being of her ex-husband and current boyfriend.

The script is actually where everything falls apart, and this is why it’s not the actors’ fault when it comes to their performances. A majority of the scenes on the screen resemble those from “Independence Day.” There’s the idealistic President of the United States. giving an impassioned speech to the American people, there are attempts at including moments of touching humanity, but these scenes come off as being merely overly sentimental and hold no true emotional weight and may actually be considered saccharine. It’s actually humorous how much of the dialogue is just atrocious. There are only so many times someone can say that they need to get out of here.

The special effects are truly where’s it at in “2012.” Seeing buildings collapse and cars tumbling into open caverns make this movie more than worth the price of admission. The level of destruction and carnage that “2012” presents is genuinely awe-inspiring and very fun to watch.
One of the major drawbacks to “2012” is its length. Clocking in at nearly three hours, the movie doesn’t have enough worthy scenes to fully grab the audience, save for those containing images of utter disaster. Most of the film is a lot of fluff with people talking about how humans have a right to fight for their lives and try to save themselves.

The cinematography is surprisingly good, but that’s really only because of what it’s capturing on screen. It’s easy to get a good shot when the only thing in it is a building falling and killing thousands of people.

I was really expecting “2012” to be as much fun as “Independence Day,” but I was disappointed. The level of carnage is on the same level as “Independence,” but it just doesn’t have the same feel. It’s definitely worth seeing in the theater, but it’s a shame that we have to sit through all the boring scenes of exposition to get to the fun stuff.