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Friday, November 13, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW
2012

The Year The Earth Won't Stand Still


A scene from Roland Emmerich's new film "2012", which opened today in the U.S. and Canada.     Sony Pictures

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Friday, November 13, 2009

In recent years on this planet we call Earth some amazing, tragic and unexpected things have transpired.  Princess Diana died before she reached 40. The horrors of September 11, 2001 unfolded.  A tsunami engulfed much of the eastern, southern and central parts of the world killing more than 300,000.  Hurricane Katrina devastated the southern part of the U.S. killing thousands in the process.  In 2009, with one more year to follow before the new century's initial decade officially ends, Barack Obama became the first African-American to be president of these United States, Michael Jackson died at age 50, Brazil was plunged into darkness for a fourth time -- the latest being this week just a day after a 60 Minutes report last Sunday on cyber terror and Brazil's lights being turned out. 

To some, whether crudely or otherwise, many or all of the above events represent the notion that the world is ending.  To the Mayans, the end of the world on their calendar comes on December 21, 2012. 

Director Roland Emmerich, himself a master of disaster ("The Day After Tomorrow" and "Independence Day" had apocalyptic-type themes while "10,000 B.C." viewed chaos in Earth's earlier years), takes the Mayan forecast as a premise for "2012", his latest disaster movie -- and it is a disaster.  Chocked full of digital effects, a 15-minute prologue and near three hours of calamity and craziness, "2012" recycles films like "Titanic" and "The Poseidon Adventure" and evokes some or all of the real-life incidents mentioned in the first paragraph. 

An all-star cast anchors but doesn't sink "2012" -- it's the poor dialogue by the director and Harald Kloser and the clumsily-edited story that do.  Danny Glover plays the future American president embroiled in a global saga with world leaders that has also seen several scientists' and professors' lives end -- apparently because they knew something secret.  Ah, the joys of expediency to further along a shaky film!  Add to this dueling White House officials played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Oliver Platt, the president's daughter (Thandie Newton), a writer (John Cusack) estranged from his wife (Amanda Peet) and kids who are living with a nerdy pilot, and a conspiracy theorist goofily played by Woody Harrelson and you've got a multi-faceted imbroglio that strains to justify its running time.

Each of the characters is trapped in cliché and conveniently-positioned dialogue as they struggle to attain Darwinian feats against all odds, with Mr. Cusack getting to wear his trademark black.  (Black limousines and black helicopters also make an appearance.)  Watching "2012", which is often overacted and over-populated with pained facial expressions, can be an experience best described as a ridiculous spectacle of magnificent destruction.  Michael Bay would likely welcome Mr. Emmerich into the Celluloid Calamity Hall of Fame with open arms.  The film plays as anxiously as its events do, choreographed to no end in an uncertain world and maximized by big-budget bonanza, accompanied by a thunderous music score by Mr. Kloser and Thomas Wander. 

"2012" is the latest entry into what I call the Fear Factor Film Festival -- other recent entries like "Paranormal Activity", "The Fourth Kind" and "The Box" have had mixed results at the box office, but Mr. Emmerich's film should have no trouble thrilling audiences that can't get enough of humungous tidal waves, earthquakes and explosions.

Lights!  Camera!  Disaster!

"2012" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America for intense disaster sequences and some language.  The film's duration is two hours and 39 minutes.

Read more movie reviews and stories from Omar here


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