Welcome to the Apocalypse. Buckle up and hold on tight.
Set in the not-too-distant future, 2012 is a “destruction/end of the world” scenario movie from the same people that brought us The Day After Tomorrow. Based off the Mayan prediction that our world will rip itself apart on December 21, 2012, the movie follows Jackson Curtis and his family as they try to escape the disaster.
First things first, the destruction sequences are some of the most visually busy and incredible in any movie I’ve ever seen. If you get off on building collapses and explosions, this movie will certainly appeal to you. The first such sequence, which features the family driving from a massive earthquake, getting into a plane, and fleeing the city is one of the most bombastic and exhilarating pieces of the movie, and is a ridiculously CGI-heavy ten minutes of cinema. All together though, the combination of real and special effects works perfectly, and some of the other scenes have truly well placed set pieces, such as a subway train flying out a tunnel and narrowly missing a plane before plummeting into a giant chasm. Awesome.
That being said though, the action sequences felt short and were book-ended by long sections of boring, generic end of the world dialogue and scenarios. Not to say that 2012 doesn’t do a good job of showing the human dimension to a catastrophe like that, but the parts are too lengthy and often unnecessary.
This is not helped by that fact that every single character is a stock cardboard cut-out with no appeal or possibility of relation to the audience. You’ve got the caring and determined father, the fragile kids, the crazy know-it-all conspiracy theorist, the bold president, etc. I felt like they were parading these people and their stories in front of me, hoping I would latch onto one of them. Not so. Especially with Jackson and his family, every scene seemed artificial and not in the least bit moving or heartfelt.
Also, the movie has a very bad sense of pacing, preferring to take the action in baby steps rather than strides. There are the huge chunks of dialogue to deal with, and the disasters don’t get progressively worse as you would think they should. It’s almost the opposite. The first two sequences (volcano and earthquake) are huge and spectacular, but then they take a step back and go with tsunamis. Water is not visually entertaining, people.
A few more issues to deal with before the score. First, humour, while good in a movie, should not detract from the action. If someone cracks a joke during the tensest parts, you just failed as a director. Relieving tension is not a good way to get people into the scenes. Furthermore, they throw every single action movie cliché into the pot with this one, almost to the point of hilarity. Let’s start a list shall we?
1. Driving/flying just ahead of the disaster (happens five times)
2. Ramping off debris in a car that would never make the jump (six to eight times)
3. The line “I think you guys need to see this.”
Continue the list if you’d like, but those are just a few of many.
Anyways, despite all my harsh words, 2012 does deliver jaw dropping visuals, and the destruction scenes should be more than enough to please any action fan. I mean, for every single one, I had a GIANT grin on my face. That being said, I would much rather see an hour long movie of just destruction than two and a half hours of 2012.
Final words: “I don’t think you guys need to see this”, but if you like destruction, go for it.