“2012 – From Roland Emmerich, director of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and INDEPENDENCE DAY, comes the ultimate action-adventure film, exploding with groundbreaking special effects. As the world faces a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, cities collapse and continents crumble. 2012 brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors. Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover”.
In 2012 Armageddon revolves around a small American family. There are two children and three adults, an extended family where the wife has a new partner and the father, the hero of this particular tale, is absent and missing his children. By the end they are ‘back together’. Like so many other American movies, this one puts the family unit at the centre and as such promotes the status quo. The family unit is that most useful to and exploitable by the forces of consumer capitalism because each unit has to have everything rather than exist in co-operation with other units.
Don’t expect any revelations concerned with the year 2012 in this film. In fact leave your brain at home entirely. The year 2012 is simply used as a peg on which to hang a very predictable and wholly derivative story. Solar radiation increases to such an extent that neutrinos heat the earth’s core and the crust melts and detaches. If you have seen the environmental holocaust movie ‘The Day after Tomorrow’ it is almost a complete rehash in form – it is made by the same Director. Environmentalist discovers planetary collapse, nobody believes him, things start happening and they come back to him. The apocalypse accelerates faster than he expects and there are all sorts of brilliant special effects alternated with turgid emotional overindulgence of Titanic proportions. By the end nearly everyone in the world is dead but its OK because the children that are left are sharing their puppy.
Think of being slapped in the face with a wet fish and then wading through treacle, alternating every ten minutes for a period of two hours fourty minutes and you get the feeling of the film. And don’t worry about wondering what to feel at any point, the sound track will tell you just what you are meant to be feeling.
The best bits of this movie were for me, the special effects. In fact this is the only reason I went to see the film (after seeing trailers). They are utterly sensational, edge of the seat thrill ride kind of stuff that modern movies can do so well with computer technology. The wave from ‘The Day after Tomorrow’ rises to new heights as it sweeps over the Himalayas, nearly engulfing even Everest. Roads, deserts, cliffs, oceans drop away from cars, vans, planes, trains and people in mind-boggling proportion and detail. This planetary disaster isn’t even related to human spawned global warming which even makes this version of Armageddon relatively guilt free.
Somewhere though, in the back of my mind, thoughts are forming about the desirability of Armageddon movies. Like the images from 9/11 shown over and over. Surely if the ‘end of civilisation as we know it’ has already occurred (so many, many times – because we have seen it on TV and at the movies) then where does the motivation come to live gently on the earth and support each other – because it won’t make any difference anyway. Isn’t there some kind of weird wish fulfilment attached to these ‘end of the world movies’ where we, humans prove yet again to be our own worst enemy ?
Review by Simon Mitchell