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Uh. OK. Well, first let’s address what this movie did well, like the disappointed parents we are (or at least that I am), recognizing that the negative feedback won’t be useful or constructive if it isn’t preceded by something positive. This movie did big screen disaster very well. Maybe it did it the best. I mean, sure, you could literally see the green screen at all times, and it felt a lot like watching those interstitial narrative movies on a videogame where you think to yourself “these graphics are good enough that they make me excited for how good graphics are GOING to be in the future.” Because sometimes the graphics were not actually THAT good. But they were exciting. I am sure that if you had to escape the Apocalypse from inside the Matrix that it would look a lot like this. And technical difficulties aside, there was a decent 45 minute stretch in the middle of the movie where everyone shut the fuck up for awhile, and you could just look at the pretty screensavers of mankind’s last stand. The world ends not with a bang, but with flying John F. Kennedy toasters.

Is that good enough, 2012? Do you feel positively reinforced enough that we can be honest with you now? Get ready to download my blog.

What the fuck was this movie?

One could (and one does) make the argument that you go into a Roland Emmerich movie knowing what to expect, and that the point of the movie is, as already described, the epic existential pornography of massive global destruction. You are, the argument goes, going for the spectacle, and to draw the porn analogy to its logical conclusion: who cares why the pizza boy blew up the White House? The point is that he is here now, and he has a double-dong of annihilation in his hand.

And that argument–which is not an argument that I subscribe to personally but–would be fine if this movie was a tight and reasonable hour and a half in which the world was destroyed and a couple people survived (because duh, I’m not an idiot, even I know how this works) and we all went home feeling the rush of having our eyes fucked in a respectful and unindulgent amount of time. But 2012, which begins in 2009, seems to have been filmed in real time. I’m pretty sure its working title was Timecode 2: 2012. I would not have been surprised if by the end of the movie the world actually was covered in water. Those polar ice caps are going to take time to melt but they’re not going to take THIS MUCH time.

And so the “exciting” spectacle of the movie is buried in the rubble of plot development and philosophical arguments, and that is where things REALLY start to fall apart. The collapse of Los Angeles was nothing as compared to the collapse of this movie’s empty cipher heroes and ideological underpinnings. I hope that little girl doesn’t die, because she collects hats! (And as one friend pointed out after the screening, it is incredible that the last piece of information the movie leaves us with is the fact that John Cusack’s stupid daughter doesn’t need diapers anymore. Thank you, end of the world!) Religion not only can’t help you in a crisis, it will literally steam-roller over you to death! Ugh, sure. Congratulations on having just completed your one-credit survey course in existentialist absurdity, Roland Emmerich, I am sure your mother is very proud of you.

Things really get bad at the end when the movie stops trying to implicitly make some kind of point about whatever, and starts making explicit moral arguments that it is simply not smart enough to support. So Chiwetel Ejiofor finally decides, three years into being the president’s right hand man in developing an evacuation plan, that the evacuation plan is morally unjust because people are buying their way to survival! He probably has a point! “Well,” the suddenly evil geologist Oliver Platt who also apparently just appointed himself President because that is how government works, “If you want to give your ticket away to a couple of Chinese workers be my guest.” And what does Chiwetel Ejiofor do? He literally SHRUGS. Don’t be ridiculous, Oliver Platt! Of course he’s not going to give his tickets away! And especially not to Chinese workers! (SIDENOTE: while both Chiwetel Ejiofor and his girlfriend were shocked and dismayed that people could purchase their survival, they had no problem when Oliver Platt said that everyone had been selected through EUGENICS.) When Chiwetel Ejiofor gets to his room in the government A.R.K. he discovers that it’s big enough to save 10 people! Outrageous! Oskar Schindler would hate this room! And yet, does he bring 10 people onto the ship to save in his room? No. He gets mad for a second, and then he takes calls on his cellphone. Because obviously the cellphones still work, four minutes before the Earth is completely covered in water. Even on the bridge, when Chiwetel Ejiofor is having some reservations about the moral implications of escaping on the ship while billions, literally billions of people die, he doesn’t actually do ANYTHING about it until he seems some of those billions of people fighting like animals on the docks. “Oh,” he finally thinks, “those people are also going to die.” Well, yes they are. As did BILLIONS OF PEOPLE ALREADY. (But luckily not John Cusack’s stupid family, oh phew, I am so glad they did not die because I am emotionally attached to them now that I know how much the little boy texts his stepdad just like all normal little boys do). Ejiofor does successfully make an argument for getting more people on the ship, or whatever, (“Russia and Germany and Spain agree to OPEN THE GATES!”), although I should point out that in the movie’s final scene, he and his girlfriend still share a “10 person” room between the two of them. The Chinese workers have apparently been left to fight it out in the overcrowded steerage hallways.

But even for people who did not want to think about anything that this movie might or might not be trying to say because they feel that you shouldn’t overanalyze big budget Hollywood action-adventure movies (because if you overanalyze it, then the people who made it won’t be able to enjoy their millions of dollars?), this movie was just superficially so LAZY! Take the part where Woody Harrelson says “you should download my blog.” Really? I mean, that is probably my favorite part of the movie, so I guess it all worked out in the end, but are you really going to tell me that after spending 200 million dollars on a movie in which literally hundreds of people were involved, no one stopped to say “hey, you know what, that’s not what people say”? That is just one example, but the whole movie was just wall-to-wall who cares, the dumb-dumbs won’t know the difference! And if the writers and directors of the movie don’t have any respect for my intelligence, why should I pretend to respect theirs? Although I do appreciate the effort that must have gone into the planning of this movie to figure out how to “logically” (so logically) fit in a dozen superhot sports cars into a movie about the Apocalypse. They did it! And how come in all of Roland Emmerich’s movies, 15 minutes after the climax, everything immediately goes back to normal. “The waters are receding faster than we anticipated.” Are they? Are the make-believe waters fantasy-receding faster than you imaginary anticipated?” Well that is good, because otherwise I was going to wonder why you thought it was worthwhile after the destruction of all the planet’s resources (and people) to waste fuel on helicopters hovering around the escape ships for NO REASON.

Of course, Roland Emmerich will probably never top my favorite disaster movie scene of all time, in The Day After Tomorrow, when Jake Gyllenhaal is CHASED DOWN A HALLWAY by some ICE, and only manages to slam the door at the very last second, thus keeping the ice OUT. Ice uses doors, you guys, so run. But clearly Roland Emmerich is going to keep trying. He knows that a worse, and dumber scene is out there, he just needs to find it. Maybe next time.

Comments (53)
  1. Give the man some credit. Roland found like 10 dumber scenes and used them all.
    I need some pull-ups for my mouth.

  2. President Glover’s last words were very close to that of Fred Sanford’s “You hear that Elizabeth? I’m coming to join you honey.”

    Also, coming from Pasadena I was saddened to hear in the movie that my city was wiped out and I am now an orphan (the effects are that real, people)

  3. What happened to the Russian Bimbo? Did she drown? I can’t sleep until this is addressed.
    Also I spent half the movie with my mouth open in awe and the rest with it open with duh!

  4. I really appreciate how fluidly John Cusack has made his transformation from decent actor to his exact character from America’s Sweethearts. I mean, BRAVO, SIR! Or maybe I mean BRAVO, ME, for WATCHING America’s Sweethearts and remembering it for all these years. Who needs algebra when you can think of terrible John Cusack movies, amiright?

    • I think that about 10 years ago, Nic Cage and Cusack were out on the golf course and Cage said something off the cuff like “I bet that I didn’t say no to any movie offers, I could destroy my career faster than you.” To which Cusack followed up with, “Care to make things interesting?”

      • Hey, you don’t know if John Cusack was hit hard by the ailing economy or if he was a client of Bernie Madoff. The man has got to make a buck. Time’s aticking.

        That’s the same excuse I give for Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, btw.

      • Frankly, I blame (and love) Con Air.

  5. Gabe, if you can’t learn to just sit back and enjoy a mindless action movie, I’m going to stop downloading your blog.

  6. The apocalypse is no match for Lloyd Dobbler. “In your FACE.” – Peter Gabriel

  7. Other favorite parts include
    1) the crying giraffe
    2) the Mc Carran air traffic controller (who knew he was about to be swallowed by the nothing, but felt necessary to follow clearance protocol – “You do not have clearance to fly. please stop. you don’t not have ahhhhhh!”)
    3) The whole, “Hey kids, let’s go camping. It’s a 17 hour drive each way to Yellowstone from LA. Is that cool?!”
    4) Cusack’s book? Huh? Did he predict it or not?

  8. Sorry Professor Grandpa, but this movie was huh-mazing.

  9. Do we still get an entry into The Hunt tonight? Is that safe for Gabe’s mental health?

  10. Apoca-bukkake was a great time

  11. I’ll never see this movie but I’m wondering if Danny Glover mentioned any shit he was getting too old for?

    • if someone mixes a scene of the white house getting exploded and danny glover going “I’m getting too old for this shit” I will love them forever

  12. Double-Dong of Annihilation play a weekly show at the death metal club down the street from me.

  13. Everyone knows you can’t actually outrun ice (or a fireball, or the plague) unless you do it in slow motion, duh! Have these people learned nothing from their own movies?

  14. This movie just proves that we should not elect Danny Glover as our next president of the United States.

  15. I’m just glad they got in the requisite Times Square emergency broadcast with audio. It aint no kind of apocalypse movie if jumbotrons aren’t being commandeered at the last second.

  16. “”Well,” the suddenly evil geologist Oliver Platt who also apparently just appointed himself President because that is how government works, “If you want to give your ticket away to a couple of Chinese workers be my guest.” And what does Chiwetel Ejiofor do? He literally SHRUGS.”

    THIS. When I saw that it was just like, okay Roland, not only is your sudden weak moralizations in this movie terrible, but you just completely laughed at the face of your own weak moralizations…AND THEN PROCEEDED TO CONTINUE THEM.

    Also, I’d like to make a motion to create an Oscar award for “Best Reaction Face in Front of a Greenscreen” and nominate every person in that movie for it.

  17. i didn’t see it.

    did the giraffes get saved?

  18. “The neutrinos are mutating into an entirely new nuclear particle!”

    THAT is some real science right there!

  19. I can’t fairly contribute to the discussion because I went with my sister and the following three shows were sold out, so we left. I probably wouldn’t mind watching this on tv someday before we get wiped out of the Earth, but I don’t feel like spending 12(!!!) of my hard earned bucks on it.

    What I did watch this weekend was a SyFy special about the 2012 theories. Completely fascinating and, at times, hilarious piece of tv special:
    - Some hippies say the Mayans could had predicted an enlightenment stage and that life will be better after that day. (This guy got about 20s of the 2-hour show)
    - A man who hates life very much says a solar flare will hit us so big that it will DESTROY the Earth’s magnetic field and make the Earth rotate backwards (I’m guessing this is the theory used for the movie) Naysayers think the chances are nill.
    - Another guy talked about a military expedition after WWII that discovered the Earth’s magnetic north pole was moving closer to the geographical north pole and when the two coincide, it will send the magnetic one like a tilt to the equator. Bringing havoc with it.
    - Disruption on the sun’s surface could damage our electrical and communication equipment. That could make people go ape.

    Other random pieces suggested that survivors from the Atlantis continent are responsible for all the knowledge of the Mayans and Egyptians. When they discovered they were doomed, they did an ark of their own to spread knowledge. While another part said that Mars went through a cataclysms of their own. Some refugees got to Earth and are the ones responsible for Atlantis/Mayans/Egyptian knowledge. There was also a guy talking about some fields on the planet’s core that no one has ever proved they even exist.

    That’s all I remember. Now you don’t have to watch it anymore.

  20. Even for a brainless disaster movie I thought it was unusually cruel, cowardly and lazy of the writers to GRIND the plastic surgeon guy to death in GIANT GEARS just to solve the love triangle problem.

  21. I still think the least believable part of this movie was everyone repeatedly treating Canada like it would actually have some sort of say when the real 2012 happens.

  22. For the love of all that is good, someone post a .gif of the big Russian falling into the Himalayan abyss after tossing his kid into the vessel!

  23. Also irritating: Yellowstone National Park is literally 1,000 miles from Los Angeles–but John Cusack for some reason must camp there? And furthermore, even though he brought the kids home early, thus cutting his planned vacation short, he was still somehow late for work?

  24. I had great admiration for the showgirls flailing about in the background during the Las Vegas airport scene. I love the thought that even the end of the world souldn’t force true Vegas showgirls to remove their headpieces.

  25. Hey, man, Jim outran a flash rainstorm on The Office. Too bad poor Michael was so slow.

  26. I liked how the Chinese wielder, who was smuggling his family into the ship, was hesitate to help Cusack’s family. It was like he was worried that somehow he would be written-up or suspended within the last 15 mins of Humanity’s existence.

  27. John Cusack played Jackson Curtis in 2012, and also Rob Gordon in High Fidelity. If Cusack had switch characters, I submit to Videogum….

    Rob Gordon’s Top Ten playlist for “The End of the World/ 2012″:

    ? R.E.M. – “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It”
    ? Kansas – “Dust in the Wind”
    ? Bad Religion – “We’re Only Gonna Die”
    ? Jimi Hendrix – “Third Stone From The Sun”
    ? Sketter Davis – “The End of the World”
    ? Youth Brigade – “Sink with California”
    ? Barry McGuire/ P.F. Sloan: “Eve of Destruction”
    ? Simon and Garfunkel – “Sound of Silence”
    ? The Doors – “The End”
    ? Radiohead – “idioteque”

    Feel free to contribute to the list!

  28. That is just a great idea, it should be applied to every movie club/wmoat/everything else. I’d replace Idioteque with Street Spirit.

  29. Wasnt this just a Big Kid’s Pull Ups ad? From the beginning of the movie when Cusack takes the kids camping, we find out that it is OK for 7 year olds to still piss themselves. Then Amanda Pete has the 6th sense because she is buying like 30482 packages of Pull Ups when the earthquake happens in Ralphs or whatever.

    Then the last line of the movie “IM NOT SCARED, I DONT NEED PULL UPS ANYMORE.” Zoom to outerspace Africa.

  30. The giraffe was crying because they took it all the way from Africa to China in a heli-sling, put it in a tiny ark cage, just to turn right around and return to Africa. And they didn’t even let it out on the deck to see the sunrise!

  31. i could never figure this part out: if Africa, was possibly never submerged under water, then how come they didn’t just send everyone to Africa in the first place? Why was everyone dying, when there was a continent that could literally house every human being on the planet, virtually untouched?

  32. just saw it. best line.

    “the entire continent of africa is rising”

  33. the 2012 movie made a cool explosion e-card, its worth checking out :) http://bit.ly/cKHVQU

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