Spectacular special effects, the end of the world and little else
4/5 (PG15) US. John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson Let’s get the movie-snob protests out of the way. Yes, 2012 is infantile. Yes, it treats the deaths of six billion people as little more than a tragic footnote. Yes, it’s about as interested in subtlety, narrative invention or character development as the Formula Rossa rollercoaster in Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World.
But what a ride. There are moments – sights, sounds, special effects – that have never been seen or imagined before, sequences of staggering complexity, immaculate detail and breathtaking scale. It may seem like just another disaster movie, but this one is bigger, louder, crazier and more wildly exhilarating than anything previously attempted, even by Roland Independence Day Emmerich’s own smash ’n’ grab standards. The plot is little more than a framing device, the MacGuffin something to do with sunspots, plate tectonics and the Mayan calendar. The closest we have to a hero is Cusack’s shambolic failed author, Jackson, whose attempts to save his estranged family from a fiery death somehow involve Russian plutocrats, Himalayan plane crashes and Woody Harrelson in a fez.
But nobody goes to a movie like this for the storyline. This is disaster on a huge scale, and unashamedly so: pavements crack, buildings topple, crowds flee, planes plummet and world leaders scramble to save their own skins as the planet goes to hell in a handcart. Posterity will not be kind to 2012, but approach it on its own terms, and it’ll knock your socks off.