2012 satiated my disaster movie fix very nicely. Roland Emmerich has not always pulled that off successfully. The Day After Tomorrow was quite good, but Independence Day and Godzilla were both unsatisfying (with Godzilla being one of the worst movies I’ve ever sat through). With 2012 Emmerich destroyed the world, kept his characters from being too boring and pulled the whole thing off in a way that would likely have made disaster king Irwin Allen pretty happy.
I think The Day After Tomorrow was the warm up for this movie (and he should’ve made this rather than wasting our time on 10,000 B.C.). Tomorrow had a global scale, but in the end only bits of the Earth were rendered too cold for living (if you’ll recall, most of Northern America moved to Mexico). Here it’s a no-hold-barred destruct-o-rama that basically works West to East with L.A., Vegas and D.C. getting nailed. Nothing gets wiped out on screen in the Central Time zone. I guess Chicago or Dallas didn’t rate screen time. NYC doesn’t even get a mention in this film, which was disappointing.
The effects are dazzling. L.A.’s destruction is the best, but D.C.’s is right up there with how the city is wiped out. Vegas was a little disappointing if only because it would’ve been cool to see more of those big, sparkly hotels go down in an impressive way.
John Cusack’s merry band of travelers are fun to watch and strike all the right emotional chords, as does the U.S. government’s chief scientist who has really bungled the time line for the disaster (as a project manager myself, I know time lines are super important and boy did he really bungle this one). People die that you don’t expect to die, which makes the movie tug on your heartstrings even more. One major disappointment (and a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know skip to the next paragraph), Oliver Platt’s misguided presidential adviser needed a spectacular death to make up for his lack of a moral compass.
Sure, there are things amiss (or downright confusing) in the plot sometimes. It doesn’t matter. This is a theme park ride that you just sit back and let happen without over analyzing. My only wish is that the ride could’ve been 20 or 30 minutes shorter. There really wasn’t a need to let this run over 2 hours.
I’ve read this past week that Emmerich is trying to pitch 2013 as a series that shows what happenes next. I’m not sure TV audiences are in for a post-apocalypse tale each week. Jericho tried that and, while it was a great show, it failed to draw an audience.
Meanwhile, a word on a disaster movie I don’t plan to see (until maybe it hits TV) is The Road. Where 2012 was disaster fun, The Road looks like disaster depression. It looks like the difference between the 80s nuclear films The Day After, which, even though it had a message it was a solid disaster movie, and Threads, which was documentary-style depressing.