EXPECTATIONS: If Roland Emmerich has one skill, it’s that he knows how to destroy cities in a variety of spectacular ways. Some of his films were pretty great (Stargate) while others were just large snooze fests (Godzilla). I imagine 2012 will be at least partly entertaining for its large scale, and because John Cusack is saving the day.
REALITY: This film was kind of disturbing. I enjoyed all the popcorn munching absurdity of the level of destruction, but I felt like there was something morally wrong going on. I enjoy watching people die on film just as much as the next punter, but the tone of this film was a strange concoction of action movie antics mixed with the tragic loss of a bazillion human lives.
John Cusack plays the quirky author who loves his kids but doesn’t see them very often. He spends the film being the reassuring Dad and he does a great job. He saves his family in a variety of completely ludicrous ways, doing exactly what I expected him to do and it was great.
It wasn’t until about 20 or so minutes in that I started to get really wierded out. Cusack grabs his kids, his ex-wife and her annoyingly wacky plastic surgeon partner and drives in the opposite direction of absolute destruction. The ground is cracking open and junk is flying everywhere, and it looks pretty spiffy. Then we see two old ladies in a car driving along, freaking out. The ground cracks and a huge crater of earth appears in front of them. Their car flies off a ground made jump and plunges these two old ladies to their death. It has all the elements of a sweet action movie scene, except we’ve just seen it happen to two innocents. The tone of the film continues like this throughout. Later in the film we see hundreds of people falling off the side of a cliff, trying to get to the life saving ‘ark’. This immediately precedes a woman whistling to her little cute dog and watching it jump up and make its way across a thin beam to safety. It’s not like the ‘real life’ tragedy was decent or upsetting in any way, but the fact that it was mixed bizarrely with all these regular action blockbuster clichés just made me feel a bit wrong.