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2012 – a bit of a steaming pile

December 14, 2009 4 comments

Roland Emmerich is a man who embodies everything that is American cinema – big budget, lots of action, and huge amounts of CGI. In fact he stands just behind Michael Bay as Hollywood man of the decade. But we have to be honest with ourselves – he’s nailed some real winners over the years – Universal Solder, Independence Day and (arguably) The Day After Tomorrow.

But I think his latest film – 2012 – has gone a little over the top. It feels like Emmerich has bitten off more than he can chew, and even throwing a host of CGI animators and a $200 million budget at the production – it all falls a little flat.

The opening 10 minutes of film set a pretty sad scene. You’re introduced to a range of characters and countries and taken through almost 2 years of backstory. But it isn’t concise… and it doesn’t flow. It kind of feels like being punched in the face a few times, and by the end of it you’re left a little dazed and confused… couldn’t it all have been done in less time, with less dialogue? Unfortunately that feeling remains for most of the film – there’s just too much. Do we really need all the characters, and all the laborious dialogue? The old guys on the boat… who cares? They add nothing to the film, except maybe a few million dollars in extra production costs. And we could also do without everyone phoning their loved ones every ten minutes to bury the hatchet and confess their long overdue love for one another.

So what about the acting? I think it is summed up in the fact that my two favourite characters are glorified extras with about 10 minutes of airtime. Woody Harrelson is pretty cool, albeit pretty insane. He plays the role of an eccentric conspiracy theorist who broadcasts his wacked out views from his camper van at Yellowstone National Park. He also has a think for gherkins. Next up is Johann  Urb who plays Sasha – the Russian man servant – who delivers the most memorable line of the film. Unfortunately both characters don’t hang around very long. So the majority of the acting is left to the large cast of ‘big name’ actors: John Cusack, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, Oliver Pratt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Thandie Newton. All I can say is that it isn’t their fault that their characters are so wooden and one dimensional. Clearly the script they were provided with was a bit of a steaming pile. And the biggest indictment on this film is that it is Emmerich’s highest grossing to date – having reaped over $700 million across the globe.

So, to bring this thing to a close, if you’re expecting an epic, entertaining and action packed film you’re most likely to be a little disappointed. If you’re paying R39 for a ticket you definitely aren’t getting your money’s worth. So what to do? I’d say you should wait for it on DVD, but then you lose out on the CGI, which is the only thing that breaths a bit of life into the film. So unless you’re on Discovery Vitality, you’re going to Nu Metro on a Wednesday, or you live near a Ster Kinekor Junction – rather leave this one out. Rather go see Invictus and be proud of your country.