Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movie Review: 2012 (2009)

Should I see it?
If your brain is not connected to your spinal column, then yes.

Short Review: It’s as bombastic as it is ill conceived, which is fancy way of saying its loud and stupid.

2012 movie poster
John Cusack is in his forties and is still playing half-man schlubs who can’t manage relationships. His character Jackson Curtis is broken down, broken-hearted and just plain broke. His ex-wife Kate (Amanda Peet) has left him. His kids loathe his mere presence. In a way, this film is like seeing Better Off Dead as done by Michael Bay.

This is a horrendous film.



Thankfully it is also a bloated disaster movie so it doesn’t really matter. All the film has to do is flash lights to distract from its limping plot in order to be successful. The only reason to see this film is to watch the end of the world in glorious high definition. Writer/Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla, 10,000 B.C.) promises to deliver the apocalypse with as few words as possible. He delivers on his promise.

What I found amazing is that Emmerich still bothers trying to shoehorn relationship issues into the end of days. At one point Jackson and Kate have a quiet moment together. She complains that Jackson spent too much time working and not enough time with his family. They literally just watched billions of people perish, the totality of human civilization has been destroyed and she is still nagging at the poor sap. I guess we can see why things didn't work out them.

The problem with trying to pull off character development in a film like this is that once you show the USS John F. Kennedy on a tsunami wave crashing into the White House and killing the President, it's a little much to ask us to care about the gripes from John Cusack’s ex-wife.

If you are only interested in seeing crashing buildings, ridiculous plot contrivances and perilous escapes, this will be a good pick. If you have the tendency to pause while watching movies and consider how reality actually works, you will probably still enjoy it because it’s dang funny from that angle.

I laughed constantly through the film. Here is a moment which sums up the film for me. Jackson is driving a limo through Los Angeles as the city is literally falling to pieces. A building crashes down in front of him. He jumps the limo into the side of the falling building, drives the car across a floor, speeding through a business office, crashes out of a window and manages to land safely on the highway on the other side. If you can handle that level of dumb, knock yourself out.

Worldview: I was struck by Emmerich's treatment of faith. Every once in a while someone would casually mention that “its time to start praying”. Other than these passing nods to the notion that some people may or may not possibly consider asking for mercy from something that maybe perhaps might be something kinda like a God or something or who knows what, there is a remarkable absence of any real faith. The President begins to quote scripture at one point, but he is cut off before he finishes. The world is ending, billions are dying, and the only references to Jesus Christ are when characters are cursing.

Emmerich is very deliberate in his presentation of religion in this film, particularly when it comes to the destruction of iconic places. Emmerich is given credit for popularizing the destruction of landmarks in action/disaster movies. The White House being blown up in Independence Day started the trend. Destroying the White House, Washington Monument, and other landmarks serves to pervert the “Death of God Image" I’ve discussed before.

In this film, Emmerich takes the Death of God Image and runs with it. He not only shows the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil crumbling, but he stops the movie cold to spend time at the Vatican. Thousands of Catholics are crowded outside of Saint Peter’s Cathedral as the Pope looks down on them from the balcony. Inside, a collection of cardinals huddle in a circle praying. As the room begins to shake they look upward to see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (apparently its been moved). The ceiling cracks and splits, severing the famous fingers of God and Adam. Suddenly, the Saint Peter’s Basilica plops over on its side and rolls over all of the collected Catholics killing the faithful like a big rolling pin made out of cosmic irony.

Beyond the obvious “imagine if they did this to any other group” argument, I need to point out that Emmerich goes out of his way to avoid showing large groups of people in this film. All of L.A. is destroyed but we only witness a few dozen actual deaths. The crowds that are killed on screen are shown from vast distances or are represented by focusing tightly on the fearful face of a known character.

The deaths at the Vatican are the only crowd shown killed in a specific, almost devious way. This is not by accident. Emmerich himself admits that the destruction of religious locations is intentional – in particular his choice in showing Christians getting it.

When asked about destroying Christ the Redeemer Emmerich explains,

"Because I'm against organized religion,"

For those playing at home, here is the math: Catholics = Let's drop one of their most precious places on their stupid heads. Islam = Let's not upset the poor dears, otherwise they may start acting wonky and hurting people - can't imagine what that would be like.

Cautions: There's death and destruction. There's some foul language and a few instances of people taking Christ's name in vain. Beyond these infractions, there's not too much that is worth being cautioned over (regarding the content).

Once you see the film read what follows:

Two items:

Congratulations! The Good News: you’ve been cast in a huge Hollywood blockbuster. The Bad News: Your character arc is that you learn to stop peeing the bed at night.

So, the world’s elite are given the chance to buy a seat on the arks. In the end the world leaders come together to allow some stranded folk into their ships. This is used to show how we maintain our humanity. Yeah, about that, the stranded people are also rich elites who also bought their way onto the arks. So, other than some Chinese slaves, the survivors of humanity are all billionaires who drained their resources from the rest of the world so they could comfortably survive the hell on Earth they left for everyone else. The worst of humanity gets to live. Nice message.

1 comment:

Free best Movies Online said...

The images and effect is amazing, I with my family very happy watching 2012
, but I don't like the story ver much