I am now going to say some positive things about Roland Emmerich'slatest movie, so I'd better rule out the only rational explanation bydeclaring I'm in no way related to him.
Emmerich is the kind of director who provokes critics into unleashingbiblical floods of bile. He's not quite at Jerry Bruckheimer orMichael Bay levels of "This is the reason Hollywood needs to be nukedfrom space," but if we subtitle-loving dorks ever deign to get downfrom our ivory towers long enough to mount a revolution, he might bethird or fourth against the wall. When that day comes, I'll findmyself saddled with the lonely task of defending him against thetorch-wielding mobs.
Because even though I kind of hate it, I could happily watch TheDay After Tomorrow on a monthly basis. If you're looking for proofI'm a clueless chump who wouldn't know good art if it stuck its tonguedown my throat, all you have to do is look up my somewhat positivereview of 10,000 B.C. Yes, Emmerich's stories are outlandish,his characters are shallow and forgettable, and he probably sucks atall kinds of other things too, but I'm enraptured by the worlds hecreates — on, in the case of 2012, the ones he destroys.
In 2009, geologist Chiwetel Ejiofor discovers solar eruptions arebombarding Earth with a new nuclear particle that will heat theplanet's core to catastrophic levels. With the survival of the speciesat stake, world governments collaborate on a secret project to savemankind — or at least a few of us.
Three years later, struggling novelist John Cusack starts to get cluedin to what's happening. As sudden earthquakes and shifts in theEarth's crust threaten to destroy civilization, he rushes his familyaway from the ruins of California in search of the project that couldsave their lives.
2012 is epic. First, one thing blows up, then a lot more otherthings blow up, then everything blows up. As this basicallymirrors my dreams (the good ones, at least, not the ones where I can'trun away from the 50-foot frog), I am, once again, hopeless toresist it.
I suppose if you want to get all picky, you can look at 2012 inanother way. As something other than a movie of such outlandishlylurid action that at one point a tsunami-borne aircraft carriercrushes President Danny Glover (seriously) (oh man, that was so awesomeI wish I were watching it right now). So if you really want to be thekind of spoilsport who pooh-poohs a conspiracy-spouting WoodyHarrelson getting blasted across Wyoming by a volcano, you could goahead and look at its story.
Or not, because it's pretty crappy. Cusack is Exhibit A that not allwriters have interesting personalities, and he's about as developed acharacter as Mayan Explode-O-Rama gets.
The dialogue's unexceptional. Characters are clearly either good orbad. And every single part of the human side of the plot could be anact in Crazy Coincidence Theatre, from Cusack just happening towork for a Russian billionaire to his ex-wife's boyfriend fortuitouslytaking flying lessons to them outrunning, out-driving andout-piloting an endless series of earthquakes, collapses, fireballsand floods by no more than two-tenths of a second.
Or its cat-swingingly bonkers premise! Showing a picture of Einsteinsticking out his tongue in approval doesn't make it even fractionallyplausible that the laws of physics would go away just to screw usover.
OK, so there are 300 reasons why 2012 is acorrosive pile of prettily regurgitated eye-candy. But can it bedenied that its CG-monster vision of the apocalypse totallyrules?? No, I say! I know only one way to reconcile thesecontradictions, these key features of what I'll henceforth call "theEmmerich Effect": inventing a new grade just for them. Voila.
Grade: C+++! :(