2012 Review
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The end is near. The Mayans predicted it centuries ago. Nostradamus did, too. But who would have predicted that the end of the world could be quite as ridiculously entertaining as it is in the colossal guilty pleasure, 2012?

In 2009, geologists in India discovered that the Earth’s core was heating at an alarming rate—and American geologist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) brought the discovery to the attention of the world’s leaders, who began quietly preparing for the worst.

In 2012 (the year in which the Mayans predicted the world would end), earthquakes begin tearing through the Earth’s surface—and Dr. Helmsley realizes that the process is speeding up. The end of the world is coming sooner than expected.

Meanwhile, while camping in Yellowstone with his kids, down-and-out author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) stumbles across some disturbing warning signs—as well as wacky conspiracy theorist Charlie Frost (played by Woody Harrelson, of course), who might not be as crazy as he looks.

When the earthquakes start tearing California apart, Jackson takes Charlie’s warnings to heart, and he races to save his family from certain destruction.

If you’re under the impression that Transformers director Michael Bay is the king of blowing stuff up (as I once was), well…you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. In 2012, director Roland Emmerich (whose last film was the prehistoric puzzler 10,000 B.C.) somehow manages to out-Michael-Bay Michael Bay. The effects are more eye-popping, the destruction more massive. It’s bigger and bolder and significantly more devastating than any other Apocalypse you may have seen before.

Emmerich holds absolutely nothing back. If he’s going to do one suspenseful scene in an airplane, why not three? And if he’s going to do one scene with tsunamis destroying a city—or an important monument collapsing and crushing everyone beneath it—why not five or six? And, really, for $260 million, I would expect nothing less. It’s complete overkill in every way imaginable, but it’s also outrageously absorbing.

Meanwhile, unlike Bay’s latest films, the story is relatively simple, and it generally makes sense. Better yet, it offers a pair of likeable heroes—to give audiences someone to care about between scenes of massive destruction. Ejiofor’s Dr. Helmsley is smart and thoughtful (even though he’s also a bit spineless and naïve). And Cusack’s Curtis is the perfect everyman—the flawed average joe who’s just trying to take care of his family (even if he’s done a horrible job of it up until now).

Sure, there’s nothing particularly smart or thought-provoking about 2012. The humor is often corny, and the situations are often cliché. At times, in fact, it feels like a big-budget B-movie—but that only adds to the fun.

Be warned, though, that this is one heck of a long journey—so you might want to pass on the jumbo soda at the concession stand. But while the 158-minute runtime is definitely bloated, there’s rarely a dull moment in this over-the-top global demolition derby. It’s cheesy, action-packed, apocalyptic fun.

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