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'2012' – movie review

'2012' is a disaster movie that delivers every destructive scenario you could hope for – and a few more.

By Peter RainerFilm critic of The Christian Science Monitor / November 13, 2009

In this film publicity image, a scene is shown from "2012".

Sony/Columbia Pictures/AP

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As if we didn't already have enough to worry about, now we have to brace ourselves for 2012, the year the Mayan calendar reaches the end of its 13th cycle – i.e., doomsday. Or something like that. I'm only going by the press notes for "2012," which reveal that numerologists, astrologers, and geologists (which geologists exactly?) are likewise freaked out about the impending date, which makes Y2K look like a stroll in the park.

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By preparing us for the coming cataclysm, the filmmakers of "2012" have performed a public service and should be given, if not the Nobel Peace Prize, then by all means an Oscar. The fact that "2012" is an epic clinker is irrelevant. Who has time for art, or even entertainment, when Earth's tectonic plates are about to be fired by neutrinos? Or something like that. It's time to save the world – or at the very least, Hollywood, which has lately been racking up less than boffo grosses. Who better to fix things than the folks who perpetrated "Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow," and "Godzilla"?

Director Roland Emmerich and his co-writer Harald Kloser – I use the term "writer" here very loosely – have teamed with an arsenal of computer geeks and destructionists to give us a Valu-Pack of disaster scenarios: earthquakes, tsunamis, falling high-rises, buckling freeways, careening airplanes, cute puppies in peril, volcanos at Yellowstone National Park, trapped giraffes – am I making this sound like more fun than it is? Sitting through this movie is like being pressed flat by a trash compactor. Every cliché, every bad idea, every thudding line of dialogue, is redolent of other earlier epic clinkers. There's a certain cozy familiarity in all this but paychecks aside, you wonder how the filmmakers could summon the energy for such an enterprise. There's even a suggestion of a sequel at the end. Maybe the world isn't going to end in 2012 after all.

The plotline has something to do with the fact that solar fires are about to microwave the planet's core, a fact known only to the top Washington brass who have been covertly planning an impending Noah's ark-like evacuation of the best and brightest aboard a jumbo vehicle parked in remote China that's about the size of Duluth. This covert operation business seems a bit silly, since everywhere from Las Vegas to the Vatican is already splitting open, but let that pass.