American ProfileDecember 8, 2009 2,853 views 3 comments
So you think you’re having a bad day?
At least you’re not Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a divorced dad running late to pick up his kids, resentful that his ex-wife’s new hubby seems to have it all, and trying to outrun an apocalyptic meltdown of city-swallowing earthquakes, mountain-swamping tsunamis and earth-scorching fireballs.
In a tried-and-true Hollywood disaster-movie formula, “2021” presents a handful of central characters then throws them together to see who will survive. Can Jackson, his ex- and his kids keep one frantic step ahead of the calamity? What will it take for the world to finally listen to the earnest young government climatologist? Will the little pampered Russian poochie live to help repopulate the canine world?
Director Roland Emmerich has set ’em up and knocked ’em down before, most notably in “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Godzilla.” By all indications, he’s a guy who built sand castles as a kid just to smash them. His gleeful appetite for destruction knows no bounds in “2012,” which uses computer-generated animation to create maximum chaos.
The White House is wiped away by not just a tidal wave, but a tidal wave bearing a massive aircraft carrier. Los Angeles collapses and slides into the sea. Las Vegas crumbles. Rome is crushed underneath its toppling architectural marvels of St. Peter’s Square. India disappears. China becomes a new polar icecap.
“2012” throws everything into the blender and sets the control to puree. Characters babble about solar flares microwaving the Earth’s core, ancient prophecies stamped with the Earth’s expiration date and an international governmental cartel to cherry-pick the planet’s best and brightest (and wealthiest) to ride the storm out in gigantic, iron-clad boats.
Danny Glover plays the U.S. president who decides to go down with the ship of state, and Woody Harrelson is a crackpot apocalypto DJ who gets off the movie’s funniest line as the gargantuan fireball rolling his way catches him, literally, with his pants down.
But despite the star power and the spectacle, “2012” is a mess. While some of the special effects are impressive, other scenes look like they were filmed with leftover props from a middle-school play. The dialogue is hopelessly cheesy. The situations into which the characters are placed are increasingly ridiculous, sometimes laughably preposterous. Who knew you could escape from a crashing airplane...in a sports car!?
It all comes down to more than two and a half hours of heaving and cleaving and crashing and crunching. The state of California, yells Curtis at one point, “is going down!” After this overlong, overcooked, overstuffed Thanksgiving turkey, Cusak should consider his next movie carefully---or his acting career might be headed the same direction.
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Rock'n chair Rambler
Over Taxed, TX
December 12, 2009 10:29am
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