Sunday, 15 November 2009



In which Roland Emmerich continues his destruction of the human race: after trashing the planet in Independence Day, stomping on New York in Godzilla and reducing everywhere north of Acapulco to an Arctic wasteland in the Day After Tomorrow, it's now the turn of solar flares to mess with the Earths' core and cause all the continents to slip their geological moorings. We've got volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis..... and apparently the Mayans knew all about it.

For a reputed budget in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars (and, incidentally, think about that sum of money next time you're walking past Help The Aged or Oxfam) we do need more than long sequences of wholesale destruction, even if they are rendered in the most stupendously detailed CGI effects a quarter of a billion dollars can buy. 2012 does have some semblance of human activity going on as well but it's built on an increasingly implausible string of coincidences that less resemble a coherent drama and more a game of Six Degrees Of John Cusack. Cusack plays a struggling novelist who takes his kids camping in Yellowstone Park and JUST HAPPENS to meet up with boffin Chiwetel Ejiofor, who JUST HAPPENS to be one of the few who read Cusack's novel and who JUST HAPPENS to be the man who started the 2012 action plan into operation. Cusack's day job is as a limo driver for a Russian oligarch who JUST HAPPENS to have a pass on one of the Arks that the world governments are building to save as much of humanity as possible (including HM The Queen and some giraffes) and who JUST HAPPENS to have a girlfriend whose boob job JUST HAPPENED to be done by Cusack's ex-wife's new partner (Tom McCarthy) - who also JUST HAPPENS to have had flying lessons, which is really handy because they need to find ranting end-of-the-world conspiracy nutter Woody Harrelson, who Cusack JUST HAPPENED to meet up with in Yellowstone and who JUST HAPPENS to have a map of where the Arks are being built. The Russian oligarch JUST HAPPENS to have a plane to get them somewhere in China where they all JUST HAPPEN to meet up with the family of a Buddhist guy who can smuggle them onto the Ark which JUST HAPPENS to be the one with Ejiofor on it, which is mighty handy. Unlikely as that all seems, it's completely believable against the backdrop of collapsing freeways and tumbling skyscrapers from which Cusack and his entourage are constantly speeding away, either in the Russian's limo, Harrelson's Winnebago, a Bentley (briefly) or a Russian cargo plane. Meanwhile Chiwetel Ejiofor has eyes for the comely First Daughter of President Danny Glover (he stays with his people and gets an aircraft carrier dropped on his head).

It's all incredibly silly and doesn't hold water any more than the Ark does (at least until Cusack manages to get the door shut) but when it's concentrating on things blowing up or crashing or falling to pieces, or the world's major landmarks being reduced to gravel - this time it's the Sistine Chapel and Las Vegas. Emmerich doesn't do plausible or believable, though, and he doesn't do small and intimate either. He does apocalypses and this one is fairly entertaining although ludicrously overdone - the film is a whopping 158 minutes long which is even longer than Transformers 2 and just as desperately in need of serious hacking down. It's too big, too much, and too long. And too expensive: it's not worth a quarter of a billion dollars of Columbia's money but it's probably worth a tenner of yours.

No comments: