I was surprised by this movie. I didn’t think it would do very well, but then I went to see it 3 times.
When typhoons, earthquakes and other disasters suddenly threaten to destroy the World, Jackson, his estranged wife Kate, and others surmise that the secret may lie in ancient Mayan prophecies that describe the global calamity in the year 2012.
OK, this textbook description of the movie isn’t very good (thanks a lot, Netflix). The way I would describe the movie is thus: After a series of strange global phenomenon (tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic activity) a young scientist figures out that the sun is sending out massive amounts of radiation which may very well bring about the melting of the ice caps and an increase in overall global temperature, which would cause all kinds of hell. The scientist brings his data directly to the top of the government: the President.
With other country heads a project is begun to prepare for this end of the world scenario.
Some years later strange things begin to occur. Natural disasters are on the rise and the government has taken residence in Yellowstone National Park (for those of you who don’t know, this park is home to a massive volcano). Jackson, a limo driver, is supposed to take his children for the weekend on a trip there to give his ex some alone time with her plastic-surgeon husband. At the park he breaks in to a fenced area to see a lake he and his family used to camp at. The lake is completely gone. He is taken by the feds and eventually told to just stay away. Dr. Helmsley, the young scientist from the beginning, admits to being a fan of Jackson (a highly unsuccessful writer).
Later that night Jackson hears the rantings of Charlie Frost, who is yelling about the end of the world and how Yellowstone Volcano is about to explode. Jackson and Charlie talk for a short while. In LA (where Kate, his ex, lives) a sudden fissure opens through part of the city, nearly killing his ex and her husband while shopping at the supermarket. Jackson comes home with the kids and is just getting kicked out of the house when a huge earthquake strikes. He gets in his car with Kate, her husband and the kids and high-tails it out of the city.
The movie follows mostly Jackson as he tries to stay one step ahead of the natural disasters and make his way to China, where Charlie had predicted the Chinese government (in tandem with tons of others) had built some kind of Arc to preserve humanity when the world was ending. The Arc is a series of huge ships, a ticket on which cost 1,ooo,ooo,ooo Euro (about $2,000,000,000) and was meant to fund the project. He meets up with other friends on the way and their group increases in size. Meanwhile Dr. Helmsley tries to advise the President and scrambles to save those he can, including the Presidents beautiful daughter Dr. Wilson, who was only told last minute that her art-preservation project was really a front to move priceless works (such as the Mona Lisa and David) onto these Arcs.
John Cusack (Jackson) and Amanda Peet (Katie) are kind of rough. Peet’s character really does most of the screaming and whining, without actually contributing a lot to the story. Her character seems more designed to give Jackson depth and drive him forward, but they could probably have just had her character dead before the movie started and with a little re-writing it all would have been fine.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dr. Helmsley) has to be one of the most underrated actors out there. I’ve seen him in just a few movies so far, but each time he plays secondary lead roles and really does a brilliant job. I had more fun watching his storyline with Thandie Newton (Dr. Wilson) than Cusack and Peet’s duet story. And Newton, who also starred as one of the lead girls in “Crash” can’t seem to do a bad job at anything, which is why I think her career has really taken off.
There are a lot of older big names in this movie. Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson for example. Oliver Platt too, but he was never as popular as those two. There are little to no current big names, all actors who were huge about 10+ years ago and have kind of vanished. The cast is, for the most part, seems to be mid-30s (in the scope of the movie I mean, I don’t know their actual ages).
It was alright. There were some amazing shots, but a lot of them were CGI, so I feel like I should attribute most of the score from that to the special effects department. There were also some instances, for example the scenes running through various big cities, that were kind of sloppily done. A lot seemed to be meant to show off the CGI, and you lost sight of the actors (or their car). That’s fine, but wide city shots dominated any scene that was not in a confined space. All of this was designed to show off the scope of the devastation, but too often you were snapped in and out of the action, which is a little too disorienting.
I liked this movie a lot. I’d recommend it along with such movies as “The Day After Tomorrow” and the Korean film “Haeundae”. All 3 share a similar enough theme. Though this movie and “The Day After Tomorrow” could be twins.
As much as I picked on them I did enjoy the wider city shots. I’ve been to LA and Vegas numerous times and (at least with Vegas) I know a bit of the layout. I liked seeing the destruction scenes for the movie because there was a lot of familiarity. I think people who have been to both places numerous times can relate to that. It’s nice seeing a city you know destroyed in a movie more than a city you don’t know, it’s more fun.
In my opinion “The Day After Tomorrow” is a little better. Between the rapid camera shots and loud explosions and rumblings I kind of felt rushed in this movie. It covers a TON in the running time, and so your brain will be tired once it’s over. I would say they were a little ambitious with the plot (things go by very quickly to accommodate a long storyline), but in this case I think less would have hurt it more than having too much. You get a very even treatment of the story and nothing is sloppy.
According to both “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow” the only place in the world largely untouched by terrifying climate and landmass changes is the middle of Africa, so I think we should all move there. Oh, and both movies teach us that our governments will hang us out to dry because all advisers to the President are total jack-asses. And the guys we should be listening to are misunderstood but too nice to say anything about it.