Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The first thing you need to know about 2012 is that it is 160 minutes long – 2 hours, 40 minutes. So, brace yourself, because apparently, the end of the world happens in real time. Then again, if they had edited it down at all, Roland Emmerich would have had to cut out at least one “running in front of a natural disaster” sequences, and we all know how much he loves those.

The second thing you need to know is that humanity sucks. No, really. We suck. If there is one lesson that you can take away from this movie, it’s that mankind sucks, hard.

Warning – spoilers ahead. No, seriously. I’m spoiling this movie like Veruca Salt’s daddy.

Why does mankind suck? Because, upon the end of the world, 46 governments around the world band together to make eight ships that hold a total of 400,000 people. Yes, that’s right, out of the 6 billion or more people in the world, the best that 46 governments can do is save 400,000 people. Oh, and shocker, they’re the rich ones.

Thanks, guys. You only had four years and limitless resources to prepare with. Glad you all put so much time and effort into preserving the species.

“Okay, humanity sucks,” you’re probably thinking. “But tell us, how is the world going to end?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Remember how, in The Core, the earth’s magnetic field was destabilizing because the core stopped rotating? Well, this time, the neutrinos emitted by the sun during solar flares are acting like microwaves, causing the Earth’s core to melt, as it is wont to do. I’m sorry, did I say “wont?” I meant, “as it never, ever does, because the amount of heat required would be catastrophic, due to the immense pressure being exerted on it, but okay, sure, we’ll try it your way.”

But I guess “the core melted” is about as likely as any other explanation they could pull out, so sure. The core melts. As a result, the crust begins to slide around, causing cracks to form in the crust and volcanoes to erupt. But that’s not until after Los Angeles is hit with massive earthquakes, as we saw in the teaser that was released a month ago. You remember that one, right? Where John Cusack and his family outrun an earthquake wave in a limo? And then California slides into the ocean?

Yeah. That’s about as close to scientific realism as we’re going to get here. No, I’m serious. That’s the high point.

Anyway, the short version of the movie is that John Cusack is a failed writer with a hot ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and two children – Noah, his son who hates him, and Lily, his daughter who still wets the bed at 7 and really likes hats. Hot ex-wife is now living with a hotshot plastic surgeon named Gordon, so you know he’s going to be a tool, especially when John Cusack’s name is Jackson. I mean, come on: Jackson versus Gordon. Who are you going to side with at the end of the world?

So, Jackson is a failure and estranged from his children. He takes them camping in Yellowstone, and his son is all kinds of surly. With good reason, given that the first thing Jackson does is have his kids jump a fence to a site restricted by the government. Apparently, bad parenting is a recurring theme in disaster movies. They’re immediately picked up by the government. The lake Jackson was trying to take them to is gone because the ground under Yellowstone is heating up. This is not good, as Yellowstone is a supervolcano. No, in real life. It actually is. It can destroy us all just by sneezing.

After their government run-in, Jackson meets Woody Harrelson in what is his best performance ever. He’s a pickle-eating nutjob who lives in the woods and rants about the end of days on his radio program. Jackson actually listens to him after his kids have gone to sleep (and after his son insults him), and Woody tells him about 2012, and how the government is building space ships to protect the rich few. Jackson doesn’t believe him, but the audience knows that the crazy man in the woods speaks the truth.

Then California starts cracking in half. I think the most depressing thing about this future is that, if the press conference on the television is any indication, Arnold is still going to be our Governor. Also, apparently Obama is going to age into Danny Glover, but he’s not going to say “I’m too old for this shit” nearly as often as he should.

As punishment for re-electing Arnold yet again, California is wracked by a giant quake. Fortunately, Jackson has begun to believe Woody, and he’s on his way to save his family as all hell breaks loose. That’s when the totally awesome teaser sequence happens, and no, the effects haven’t gotten any better or more realistic since it aired.

Jackson has his family fly up to Yellowstone to get Woody’s map to the ships. Unfortunately, Woody is at the rim of Mt. Bighorn, waiting for the caldera to explode. So, Jackson and his seven year old daughter go to find him. Again, there’s that responsible parenting we all know and love. Woody’s on the rim of the caldera, broadcasting a rant about how he’s going to be standing there to see the end of the world. And, as Jackson tries to get Woody to tell him where the maps are, the caldera starts to erupt. Every bird in the damn thing takes flight, the ground warps, steam shoots out, and as Jackson takes off running to the RV again, the caldera erupts.

Jackson and his daughter then out-drive lava bombs the size of school buses. They get to the plane with the ash cloud hot on their tail, but Jackson has to run back to the RV to get the map. He riffles through all the maps, which, take them all, Woody’s not using them. But no, if he did that, he would have had time to escape the RV before a giant crack opened up under it. Instead, he takes his sweet time looking for the map, and a big crack opens under the RV, and the RV falls into the magma below. Somehow, though, John Cusack manages to climb back out. He and his family take off in a plane piloted by Gordon, but they’re enveloped by the pyroclastic flow. While watching the movie, I thought to myself, “Well, that was fast. I can’t believe they’re all dying in the first hour.”

But this isn’t reality. This is Roland Emmerich’s funhouse mirror of natural disasters, where volcanic ash doesn’t clog plane engines, and the superhot gasses of a pyroclastic flow don’t suffocate anyone who breathes it in. So instead, they emerge safely from the death cloud.

I should have known, though. The shockwave from the eruption was just a slight breeze, as opposed to the concussive force from a blast that big. To compare, trees 19 miles away were knocked down during the Mt. St. Helens eruption.

The ash cloud continues to haunt them, as it hits Las Vegas, their next stop. From that point on, the movie is about trying to get onto one of the giant ships that have been built. Jackson’s family joins forces with Yuri and his family. Yuri is a rich Russian guy who’s set to be on one of the ships. That’s all you’re going to hear about Yuri, because he didn’t serve all that much of a purpose.

“So, that’s it?” you’re probably wondering. “The world goes by supervolcano and ash cloud?” No, that would be far too logical. Instead, the tectonic shifting causes giant earthquakes around the globe, which cause huge tidal waves. Not the usual small ones that destroy small countries in the Indian Ocean. No, we’re talking about ones that wipe out real cities, like New York City Washington.

This is from The Day After Tomorrow. Just imagine watching this scene six times in a row, in different locations, and you know what the second half of 2012 is like.

Oh, and remember those posters with the USS John F. Kennedy crashing into the White House?

Yeah, that wasn’t exaggerated for the poster. Apparently the CGI wizards think that the USS JFK would dwarf the White House, when it’s only about 150 feet longer. But why go for realism when you can make it look like an aircraft carrier is destroying the Barbie Dream House version of the White House?

In the end, Jackson and his immediate family are able to make it aboard the ship, thanks to a Chinese welder who’s been working on the ships. I guess we’re not supposed to really care about the rest of humanity, who have just bit it hard, because at least we know that Amanda Peet and John Cusack’s progeny will live on.

There are other characters – the young geologist who is put in charge of knowing when the world is going to end, the moral and courageous President Glover who stays behind to die with the American people, President Glover’s hot daughter, and the evil Oliver Platt. But we’re not given any real reason to care about them, so we’re not going to touch on them at all, except to say that President Glover sucks.

Why does President Glover suck? Well, for starters, he approves the plans for eight ships that only house 400,000. Why do they only house 400,000? Because the rooms are suites. These are luxury ships we’re talking about here, and this asshole okayed it.

But hey, when the giant ash cloud hits, he starts feeling a twinge of guilt, so President Glover stays behind to give a national address. Gee, thank you, President Glover, for sticking around to die with the rest of us. Do you think you could have maybe, I don’t know, bothered to approve some plans that would fit a few extra people in? Or not brought every fucking animal ever along for the trip?

I’m just saying, giraffes are stupid. We don’t need to save giraffes. If they wanted to be saved, they could have built their own ships. I’ve seen Madagascar. They’re resourceful.

But no, President Glover is lauded for staying behind to die by being smacked in the face with an aircraft carrier, when really, he got what he deserved – to die painfully, like the rest of us. Except for the 400,000 with the biggest bank accounts, and Jackson and his family. We’re supposed to be happy they survived. Of course, it’s a little hard to be happy they lived when you realize that you’re one of the masses who would die painfully. Suddenly, I understand why people are killing themselves before 2012.

Arbitrary Points System:
Having a subway plunge into the abyss in LA: +6
Highly accurate depiction of why we can’t have mass transit: +2
Taking a 7 year old to the rim of a caldera that’s about to erupt: +14
Saying Chicago is going to be destroyed: +12
Not showing Chicago being destroyed: -40
Outrunning an earthquake wave in a limo: +30
Outrunning a pyroclastic flow in an airplane: +15
Outrunning an ash cloud in an airplane: +7
Okay, no more outrunning things, right?: +3
No, wait, there’s a giant wave coming: -30
Thinking they can refuel in Hawaii, an island of volcanoes: -27
Driving out of the back of an airplane onto a glacier: +18
Not incorporating water displacement, so instead there are just surges in water without shallow areas elsewhere: -10
Having a hot young geologist: +12
Pres. Glover never saying “I’m getting too old for this shit: -15
Jackson is an absentee father: -2
Wait, did you know he’s also a writer?: - 1
He’s an absentee dad, by the way: -1
And he’s a failed writer: -1
Oh, by the way, his book only sold 500 copies: -1
Coincidentally, it’s about the end of the world: -1
Another coincidence, the geologist is reading the book!: -1
California sinks into the ocean: +21
That makes absolutely no sense: -8
Woody Harrelson’s cameo: +33
Building giant ships with big glass windows and not anticipating debris: -4
USS JFK being eight times the size of the White House: +16
“Who cares? It’s not like anyone’s going to look up the actual dimensions.”: -2
White House: 912 ft., USS JFK 1,052 ft: -14
No one dramatically removes their glasses: -6
Attempting to explain the end of the world with science: +17
Failing miserably: -7
Leaving me without any sense of hope: -18
And making me kind of hate people: -3

Total: 15 out of 100

Best quotes: “Fly birdies, fly!” – Woody Harrelson
“I’ll be the last President of the United States of America. Do you know how that feels, son?” – President Thomas Wilson
“I wish we could prevent the coming destruction. We cannot.” – President Thomas Wilson, giving hope to the public

2012 Trailer


  1. I finally saw this, maybe a week or so ago. And it was at the theatre with the motion seats, so I shelled out for that.

    WORTH IT. :D

    I think the most hilarious part was that the debris was from the construction crew's materials down below the ships. And the planes they flew in. You'd think some planner, somewhere, would have thought about that.

    "Okay, we're going to build our airstrip here for people to arrive. I guess we should make the commute from plane to ship as quick as possible, so let's just build the runway at the opening of the valley and leave these large wide-body aircraft. I mean, it's not like we can take them with us."

    One would then presume the next sentence to be: "They'll just wash away." And it probably was.

    And then, it should have occurred to someone that if water came into the valley, it would wash the planes up the valley, into the ships. But apparently not.

  2. Oh my god. I wish they had a theater like that here. That would have been AMAZING.

    And yeah, I was totally befuddled by the lack of planning when it came to debris. Whose genius idea was it to dock the giant ships to the mountain side using only big metal arms? Yeah, a giant wave would never dislodge that.