It starts with an Indian geologist, Dr. Satnam Tsurutami [Jimy Mistry] alerting American geologist Dr. Adrian Helmsley [Chiwetal Ejiofor] of rising temperatures in the world’s deepest copper mine [handily already mined out]. This is tied into abnormally strong sun flares and sufficient neutrinos that they have a mutating effect… Well, you get the idea. Scientific technospeak sets up Helmsley’s warning to Carl Anheuser [Oliver Platt], an influential member of U.S. President Thomas Wilson’s [Danny Glover] team. Before you know it, the heads of the most powerful heads of state in the world have come to an agreement to find a way to ensure human survival after the apocalypse to come.
While the politician’s are [gasp!] working together, we get to know the human faces of the film – struggling [and divorced] author Jackson Curtis [John Cusack] and his cute kids, Noah [Liam James] and Lily [Morgan Lily]; his ex, Kate [Amanda Peet] and her new guy, Gordon Silberman [Tom McCarthy]; blustery Russian billionaire, Yuri Karpov [Zlatko Buric], his twin sons Alec [Alexandre Haussman] and Oleg [Phillipe Haussman] and his girlfriend, Tamara [Beatrice Rosen] – and a host of cameos from George Segal, Blu Mankuma, Gillian Barber and others.
How are the remnants of humanity going to survive? Well, it has something to do with China – something Jackson finds out after briefly getting to know conspiracy buff/radio broadcaster Charlie Frost [Woody Harrelson]. Armed with a map from Charlie’s RV, he and his family [and Gordon] set out for China – starting in a twin engine plane flown, protesting all the way, by Gordon. The odyssey that they go on is echoed in an unexpected place – a monastery in Tibet.
Like most director/co-writer [with Harald Kloser] Roland Emmerich’s best known films [Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 B.C.], 2012 doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s a wild ride of natural catastrophes as Mother Nature finally reaches her limit and tries to send humanity back to the Stone Age – if any of them have the temerity to survive [which they will; this is a Roland Emmerich ride, after all].
Emmerich tries to balance scenes of Los Angeles falling into the sea; a huge luxury liner going Poseidon; building crumbling like piles of blocks at the hands of an angry child; a tsunami rising over the Himalayas, and so on, with human moments – shamelessly piling on stirring music and maudlin moments ‘til there’s nothing an audience can do but laugh. When the Curtis family [and Gordon] reach their objective [in spite of callous Chinese army personnel, betrayal by the Russian billionaire and more], naturally there’s one final obstacle that could [should] result in Jackson’s death – and possibly Noah’s.
By this point, laughter is not only a possible response it’s the only appropriate response. 2012 somehow manages to b fun through sheer desire to please. It’s ten different kinds of cheese, but on the right crust, ten kinds of cheesy can make for an ooey-gooey pizza delight. If you’re in the mood – like I was –for a super-cheesy movie, 2012 will give you all you can handle.
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