Saturday, November 14, 2009

2012 Movie Review: Cheesehead Disaster Flick?

2012 is the latest (and allegedly final) disaster movie from Roland ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow") Emmerich, the German-born blockbuster director.

His fans shouldn't feel left out, though. If you've seen one disaster movie, you've pretty much seen them all. World ends. Some people survive (usually). Much unlikely stuff occurs. Giant things crash into smaller things, some excellent special effects take place, and the heroes make some impossible escapes. Same thing here.

There are some nice touches. John Cusack does a good job with a pretty uninteresting role, as the divorced father of two who is forced to come to their rescue -- and to the rescue of his ex-wife and her new husband. Danny Glover is okay as the president, who has to decide whether to go with the chosen escapees or to stay behind with the vast majority of the American people to meet his doom from the planet-wide disaster.

That's a key choice, even if his particular decision isn't key to anything in this movie. Basically, 2012 sets up an unfair conflict, in which the audience is expected to share the moral outrage of one of the heroes about people who are not allowed onto the arks that will protect a small minority of the population. It's false, because if there are only a certain number of slots available on the arks (and the film offers no other option), then only a minority will survive in any case. It's Sophie's Choice on a vast scale in any case, but one of the heroes throws a hissy fit right at a critical time, causing a delay in the launch of one of the arks and nearly killing many more people.

But it's silly of me or anyone to expect a philosphical masterpiece in a film, much less in a disaster film. So if you can turn off your brain for two hours and 38 minutes, then you will likely enjoy this movie. Despite my qualms above, I was able to enjoy it as the brick-stupid movie it is.

But I have one question: What's the deal with Wisconsin? It crops up quite a few times in this movie. Did the moviemakers not like the state? Or are they doing a friendly shout-out to it?

Then again, I'm from Wisconsin originally, so maybe others won't notice that.
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