Reviewed on 2009 December 14
I had this vision of Roland Emerich writing down different doomsday scenarios on a sheet of paper, then looking at the whole list and adding more while saying “YES! That’s good too!” After seeing this thing, I’m certain of it. Earthquakes. Volcanoes and tsunamis. Pole shifts! Cute kids in danger and puppies at risk! If anything the Mayans underestimated the destruction, AND ROLAND IS GOING TO SHOW YOU HOW BAD IT’S GONNA GET FOR 158 MINUTES!
This EPIC (not to be confused with epic) starts with a team of scientists trying to prepare for what would be an extinction-level event, and as so often happens in these things, initially disbelieved. One particularly stubborn and brilliant man, Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), manages to get to President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover) to start preparation. The world leaders and certain more-equal-than-others civilians are aware that something big and bad is going to happen on December 21, 2012. Most of the rest us are in the dark, except for a writer, Jackson Curtis (John Cusack). Curtis learns something is coming as well, but first he has to get his estranged wife (Amanda Peet) to listen to him.
You pretty much know who’s going to get it and when, and at times can almost predict what will be said. I feel a little cheated. In terms of star-filled movies the fifties gave us The Greatest Show on Earth, the seventies at least had Irwin Allen, and we get CGI in lieu of a strong story. The special effects were remarkable, even if they violated more laws of nature than a whole waiting room of Dr. 90210 patients. Much has been made of California shaking like the crust of a crème brûlée before it becomes fresh ocean floor, but I was actually sad to see Las Vegas go, because I’ve always had a soft spot for it. If you settle in with some junk food and take it for the CGI-gasm it is, it’s entertaining. A couple of the highlights are Woody Harrelson’s performance as a crazy (but this time he’s right) hybrid of Art Bell and Grizzly Adams, and Zlatko Buric as the plutocrat Yuri Karpov. The dialogue is mostly cheese, but Buric gets two hilarious lines in the film.
Two chocolate morsels.