'2012' – movie review
'2012' is a disaster movie that delivers every destructive scenario you could hope for – and a few more.
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I'll say this much for "2012": It features one good blowout early on, when L.A. – that favorite target of destructo scenarios – comes apart. It also has better aerial sequences than "Amelia," although this is like saying that "The Polar Express" is better than "Disney's A Christmas Carol." John Cusack, one of many fine actors reduced to rubble here, plays an underappreciated novelist, Jackson Curtis, who remains a doting divorced dad to his two hyperadorable children. By day Jackson is the chauffeur for a bulbous Russian billionaire (Zlatko Buric), a plot device cooked up, no doubt, because a black stretch limo looks better than an ordinary clunker while vaulting tectonic fissures. Jackson's heroic counterpart – once things start, literally, cracking – is the president's chief science adviser Adrian Helmsley, played by Chiwetel Eljiofor in a continual deadpan huff. He looks as if he wishes he was acting in "Airplane!" instead. I wish he was, too.Skip to next paragraph
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Danny Glover, at his most sotto voce, plays the president. Since "2012," according to those trusty press notes, was written during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, it's worth noting that the role was originally written for a woman – until the Iowa primaries. Oliver Platt plays the president's chief of staff and doesn't remind me of anybody except Oliver Platt, a mixed blessing. His character has the surname Anheuser – a not-so-subliminal plug for Budweiser?
In general, though, given the shamelessness of the venture, the filmmakers are remarkably restrained when it comes to product placements, perhaps because no corporation in its right mind would want to see its company logo buried in an avalanche. (I could be wrong about this.) But wireless phone companies missed a golden opportunity here. No matter how high the devastation, no one in this film ever fails to place a call. My favorite moment: In the midst of a biblical-size storm, an astrophysicist in East India buzzes Adrian in a D.C. bunker and gets right though.
It occurred to me that Emmerich and Co. might be playing this whole thing for laughs. It probably occurred to them, too. Just to be on the safe side, they periodically lampoon their own handiwork. This way, if people start giggling in the wrong places, the filmmakers can always claim they were the right places. I'm pretty sure that most of the time that I was laughing, it was during the wrong places. Except maybe when that cute puppy teeters over a precipice on its wobbly way to the mother ship. That wasn't meant to be serious. Was it? Grade: C- (Rated PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language.)