Pinocchio was a puppet who thought he was a real boy; 2012 is a B-version of a disaster picture that thinks it's an A-movie.
The A-level effects are there along with the dazzling blend of twenty-first century puppetry (CGI) with good old fashioned carpentry via stages that shake. But unfortunately, there's nothing about the emotionally thin screenplay stretched throughout the globe that engages us on any level other than thinking “whoa, that dude was just swallowed by the sea” like Pinocchio and the whale.
It's roughly on par with the wizard pulling the strings-- director Roland Emmerich's own Independence Day-- in terms of sheer entertainment popcorn movie value. Yet while Day had the charisma of Will Smith, in this film he's been replaced by talented actor John Cusack whom-- while irresistible in High Fidelity-- looks like he's back in apathetic Serendipity, Must Love Dogs, or Martian Child mode.
Reteaming with his adorable Martian co-star, Amanda Peet-- who always seems to be one great part away from finally breaking through the surface-- Cusack plays a struggling writer of a failed highbrow passion project stuck driving limos to support both himself and his now ex-wife (Peet) and two children who've bonded a bit too heavily with her plastic surgeon boyfriend and insta-dad-surrogate.
Going about their daily lives as usual, it takes the Earth to begin breaking apart for them to realize what the scientists and governmental heads around the world have known for a few years, which is that the Mayans were right in that after December 21, 2012, the world as we know it will cease to exist.
With Chiwetel Ejiofor's scientist explaining it in Earth's crust and plate tectonic speak in predicting the series of Earthquakes and eventual floods that will rip everything apart, a plan has been put into action to save the heads of state including the president (Danny Glover), his daughter (Thandie Newton) and his adviser (Oliver Platt) along with the ridiculously wealthy who can “afford” the price-tag of an uncertain 2013 future aboard a series of arks.
Jumping from the discovery of the problem to various plot-lines we'll be tying together eventually as the disaster movie continues which consists of improbable meetings between characters who manage to encounter each other twice in different parts of the world etc., the movie tries to build itself up as though it were a scientifically sound global warming nightmare but like Halloween, it's really all about the tricks and treats to be enjoyed.
The cinematic substitute for a tilt-a-whirl as we're constantly moving to and fro to outrace Earthquakes, fires, water and more along with Cusack and the rest, I was extremely impressed by the way that the film which is comprised of more than 50% visual effects has managed to hold up convincingly on the small screen.
Rocking the speakers in high definition to the point that-- new to 5.1 surround sound-- I thought for a moment that someone nearby was in a helicopter or having a flat tire, 2012 is worth putting up with the really bad writing of trying to turn a dystopian funhouse film into Babel or Crash just to have a check your brain at the door since your mind's about to be blown away evening on Blu-ray.
While traditionally as a rule, I feel that 3-D is an overrated system used way too often, in the case of 2012, I was kind of surprised that Emmerich and company didn't appreciate their B-movie for the sheer fun it would be and just go for the full three-dimensional ride.
Nonetheless, even without playing tricks with our sensory perception, the movie that has enough holes to sink one of the film's trusty arks along with so many dubious dialogue exchanges you may need crackers to put up with the cheese makes for an entertaining, if overblown and really overly long B-movie disaster picture you'll have as much fun shaking your head at in laughter as in disbelief.
Oh, and did I mention Woody Harrelson plays a wacky survivalist conspiracy theorist with a radio show? An admittedly over-the-top Harrelson is the only impetus anyone needs to give the Blu-ray a look along with the chance to take a ride right from the comfort of your disaster free family room.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.