Saw “2012” last night. I was in the mood for a block buster, the kind you just watch, not engage with intellectually.
I, the woman, suggested this film as our Date Nite movie. He, the man, agreed, possibly because he wanted to watch it also but probably because he likes going to things I pick out (because there’s a greater certainty that his woman will be happy with the activity when she has chosen it herself).
I wanted to see “2012” for two reasons: the special effects, and my old cutie-pie John Cusack.
If you have a hard time envisioning what an environmentally-based end-of-the-world scenario would look like, this movie goes a long way to presenting one. This version of the (almost) end wrecks destruction in populated areas, in unpopulated areas, in wilderness, in cities, on the mountains, at the shore. The visuals are stunning. And then it gets I’m-still-10-years-old scary, as in a “Wow, if the science were real and could do what it did in the movie, that is what might happen.”
I was half-way through watching this when I thought, “Oh my gawd it wasn’t us that did it,” which came as a surprise/relief because it’s always us that do it, destruction-of-the-planet-wise.
A couple of things to note if this movie ever comes true:
One: If the end of the world is nigh, don’t go rushing off to the Vatican to stand in Saint Peter’s Square holding a candle and praying with the pope, because it won’t be the rapture that hits you in the face.
Two: Thinking that only the edges of the continents will get whacked and decamping to remoter wilderness areas won’t help you. When the earth gets messed up it gets messed up everywhere. And when I say messed up, I mean MESSED UP. You are screwed, I am screwed, we are all screwed, unless you’ve got a billion dollars, but never mind about that because even if you do have a billion dollars, surviving is still a little sketchy.
The special effects are special, and effective. “Our” news always shows the results of earthquakes on the highways of California: the cars have already halted and everybody’s already gotten off/out; this movie shows what happens when it’s happening—the twisting of the road, the cars sliding off, the people trying to hang on then plummeting to their deaths. And because this is a super-duper everything-and-everybody’s-screwed kind of film, this destruction happens for miles along the highway. You can’t escape it. You. Can’t. Escape. It.
Other, actual movie reviewers have called this “disaster porn,” and I see their point, but jeeze, if you’re making a movie about world-wide devastation, you can’t just show some corn stalks gettin’ blown over in Iowa, now, can you?
The visuals are unrelenting: California, Washington, other places on the globe, one after another coming to their end. And the end isn’t the complete nothingness of a neighborhood after a tornado whirls through; it’s the earth’s crust (and everything on it) tilting and sliding into the ocean. Jay-zu gawd that was something to see.
This is a movie of special effects, of creating a world (as it were) where there’s nothing but disaster and destruction everywhere you look/go. This is not a movie of clever word play; the US president, played by Danny Glover, has particularly horrid lines (he actually says to his daughter (Thandie Newton) something like “Only twelve people in the world know about this…the world is experiencing a threat of unimaginable proportions.”). I imagine this line was meant to be full of gravitas, but the entire audience erupted in giggles.
And of course, the writer/chauffeur played by Mr. Cutie I mean Cusack is a divorced dad who loves his kids and still pines for his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) who’s moved on, but this being a “block-buster disaster film of the year!” kind of movie, divorce never ends in divorce. So that’s how you save a marriage, plop a big huge disaster right on top of people and see how they re-cleave to each other. However, I know actually divorced people who would watch their ex-spouse get swallowed up by the earth like they would watch paint dry, so to me that was the most unrealistic aspect of the movie.
(How funny, I can suspend my scientific belief—maybe the largest solar flare in the history of the earth could spark this kind of environmental disaster—but not my emotional belief—she’s moved on for Pete’s sake! Move on!)
One cannot have a movie like this without the earnest scientist, in this case played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is the same fella who played the marvelous black drag queen in the howlingly funny Kinky Boots (and of course The Operative in our go-to movie Serenity.) Such earnestness, such belief in mankind, such an American accent.
Do I recommend this movie? Yeah. Am I suggesting you will be profoundly affected by it? Not really.
Unless you’ve got PMS. I don’t recommend seeing this movie if you’ve got PMS. You will cry if you have PMS.