To my surprise, I quite enjoyed 2012. Well, I quite enjoyed the first half an hour or so. Once you get past the very questionable “science” used to explain the world ending, the moments with the ground randomly breaking apart in the middle of a supermarket and John Cusack driving his car away from an earth shattering earthquake were good fun to watch.
In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that the first “events” where John Cusack is driving to the airport while the world falls apart around him and even the moment when him and his family outrun the natural disaster to get away in their plane, were exciting, well filmed and good “escapism” cinema. The problems began to demonstrate themselves when John Cusack’s character seemed to have to put himself back in danger to keep the film exciting.
The problem with a disaster film like 2012, where the world is falling apart around people, especially in largely populated places, is that once your main character has got out of the danger, there isn’t really any plausible reason for him to seek out another volcano to outrun. It’s not even like Cusack’s character had a profession that meant he would be useful in a world-ending crisis. He wasn’t a fireman or even a seismologist. He’s a failing writer! Once he’d outrun one disaster, he would understandably have taken his family somewhere safe and stayed there.
The other problem with the relentless amount of outrunning natural disasters is that eventually, you’d pretty much seen all the film had to offer. The effects were very impressive and I was genuinely engrossed as Cusack drove down a street that was falling away behind him but once I’d seen him in a plane, narrowly avoiding a cloud of some sort, for the third time, it felt less like a film and more like I was watching someone else play an X-Box game.
This was the most common thread through the film. A film about the supposed end of the world is a great idea, but once you’ve practically destroyed the Earth, killing millions, where do you go from there? The film seems to struggle to go anywhere and while the idea of ships carrying the rich and worthy is a faithful, tried and tested plot development, it seems to take forever to go anywhere and when we eventually get to that point, more unnecessary peril is introduced. Once you’ve watched a volcano destroy a mountain, a problem with a ships brakes isn’t going to be a fitting climax.
I really thought people had been too harsh on this film as the first parts of the story unfolded. The action was good, the effects were spectacular and you can’t get a much better everyman than John Cusack, but eventually I could see the cracks showing and though 2012 is a great idea, it fails in its execution.
Overall, 2012 is all gloss and no depth. The story seems to be on an illogical revolving door, putting characters who have clearly escaped, back in danger again. Though the end of the world is a great story for a blockbuster movie, what story do you tell once you’ve pretty much destroyed the planet in the first forty minutes?
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)