Wednesday, 23 June 2010
2012 - Review (text)
Those of you who read my “Knowing” review (I hope SOMEONE did), may well have been under the impression I’ve lost it. I spent almost the entire review discussing the impact of the special effects, and completely glossed over the theological implications of the script. But I can assure you, I have not gone completely insane just yet (as evidenced by my comments on Twilight in my previous review – when I start screaming about how much I love 17 year old Werewolfs, THEN you’ll know something’s wrong with me. Oh, and so we’re clear, when you come to kill me – I want it in the FOREHEAD, so the exit wound’s at the back, and I can still have an open casket if they put a trilby on my corpse – which they’d fucking better!). No, the reason I did this was simple: Despite my comments on how retarded it would be to write these two reviews as one massive one, and cross-reference the movies throughout; I decided that this was actually a pretty sweet idea – and since they basically have the same religious connotations in their endings – I figured I would tackle those together. So, heads up – Spoilers for “Knowing” as well as “2012” (though, in the context of explaining 2012 – I’m not gonna review Knowing again here!). Also, since 2012 is pretty well ALL about the effects, I figured that going into detail about why I loved the effects in Knowing would help me to better explain why I hated them in 2012.
That’s right. HATED. And here’s why:
2012 was supposed to be this huge spectacle, in which the main driving force was the incredible effects, showing us what the end of the world would look like. It was essentially sold as a movie all about special effects – the story was unimportant – it was all about how spectacular everything looked. And, bearing that in mind, this just led me to severe disappointment.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t expecting a huge amount when I went in. I deliberately didn’t go and see this in the cinema, because I knew that any movie selling itself entirely on its effects wouldn’t be any good. I also knew that it wouldn’t hold up to “Knowing” in terms of realism, nor “Avatar” in terms of the sheer scale of it all. But what I DID expect was for the effects to have improved on those used in “The Day After Tomorrow” – which came out at least 5 years before this!
Was this really THAT hard to improve on, Emmerich?
Seriously – NOTHING has improved on those effects. In fact, in many ways, 2012 is actually WORSE than “The Day After Tomorrow” for effects value. Whilst my main complaint in “The Day After Tomorrow” was with the terribly animated wolves, with the actual storms being fairly well done as far as I can recall, “2012” cannot even handle the simplest of effects.
Seriously; there is a scene fairly early on in which California is experiencing super-quakes, and everything is collapsing and exploding around John Cusack and his family as they try and escape in Cusack’s character’s limo (before I forget – the character’s name is “Jackson Curtis”; as in the same name as that Javelin thrower whose name I always laugh at, and who I refer to as “50 Cent”, because when billed for competitions, it comes up as “Curtis, Jackson”) – and it is God awful!
Seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen effects so dodgy since I went to see The Matrix Reloaded, where they insisted on completely computer generating an entire fightscene between Neo and countless Agent Smith clones, and it looked worse than the graphics on most playstation games. And you know what? I thought the exact thing whilst watching that scene in “2012”. I thought “I might as well be watching someone playing a computer game” – the effects were THAT bad. I mean, if this is an “effects spectacular”, then Die Hard 4 must have won every achievable award for Digital effects there is, because even that had effects infinitely more realistic than this movie! I honestly get the feeling that they deliberately animated the film in this way, just so people would think “oh wow – this is just like a computer game”, and then rush out and buy the 2012 game as soon as it came out, because people are retarded. Or at least, movie producers think they are.
What movie producers think of us.
Aside from the poor digital effects (which, admittedly, were spectacular at a number of points, though terrible in others), there were a number of other things about the film that really annoyed me. For one:
I can’t stand this whole trend of having a male lead in a crummy job with an ex-wife who’s seeing someone else, and who has a daughter who is completely one dimensional and whose only purpose is to be terrified, and a son who is such a brat you want to just lamp him one RIGHT IN THE FUCKING FACE! I mean, SERIOUSLY, I had enough of that in War of the Worlds (and Dakota Fanning was far more memorable than the girl in this – seriously, I don’t remember her doing ANYTHING! I can’t even picture her in my head, that’s how pointless the character is. And fuck you, that’s ambiguous. Ambiguous? I don’t think so – no, I mean, he’s got a point, I mean, is that like “picture it in your head", or "picture a bullet IN your head", he's got a– shut up) – I don’t want to fucking see it again! (granted, once the son fucked off in that, it did get a bit more entertaining – but his surviving the film ruined it for me. What a cop-out! Only in fucking America, right? A British director would have killed the prick off. At least, I hope they would have…) I mean, why have the EXACT same family set-up in this as you did in War of the Worlds? It worked so well the first time you figured you’d just go for it again? Here’s a hint – most people only have 1 complaint about Terminator 2: The kid was an annoying dick. WHY DO YOU KEEP WRITING PARTS FOR KIDS WHO ARE JUST PLAIN CUNTS? Honestly, why not have some nice kids? Or at least, some with complex motivations behind their douche-ness. If you want a kid who’s a bastard, why not make him a manic depressive/ violently bi-polar teen instead? Why not have a strong girl character, and a wimpy boy, just to mix it up? Why not have a mother and father who are still together? Given only 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce, you’re statistically more likely to have parents who are still together – so why the obsession with creating such a conflict between them BEFORE the event? Seeing people drift apart as everyone around them dies would be FAR more interesting, and have a more real feel to it! I hate to come back to MillenniuM again, especially season 2 (the worst for the most part), but Frank and Catherine’s relationship in that was perfect for this sort of thing – they start off happy, but with some deep-seated issues, something happens to make it all come to the surface, they drift apart, then come back together as they see the end approaching. THAT’S HOW YOU FUCKING DO IT! Shit, seeing Frank, Jordan and Catherine evading the end of the world might have actually been a good movie (or series finale? Oh yeah, I forgot…) – that’s how you fucking write characters, 2012 writers – WHY DON’T THEY MAKE CHARACTERS LIKE THAT ANY MORE? Plus, Lance Henriksen. NEED I SAY MORE?
No, I need not.
What’s more – the characters are so pointless you don’t even give a fuck about them. They’re so one dimensional and unlikeable, I honestly think I would struggle to write characters that bad. Not to give away too many Spoilers, but when the step-dad died in this, I just didn’t give a fuck. He was such a poorly written character that his death wasn’t even sad. And that’s what annoyed me the most about this movie:
Despite the message towards the end about how everyone’s life is important, and how we should all care for each other – the movie does not give a FUCK about all the people who die. You remember I said how “Knowing” was so haunting because, despite the fact you didn’t know any of the characters involved in the plane crash, you could still identify with them, and imagine how horrific the situation was? 2012 does NOTHING even remotely close to that. The deaths are all stylized, and incidental. Nothing seems real, and we don’t dwell on anything. Watching this movie, it was like “oh, dude just died in the background. Whatever”. There was just no humanity to it! None of the characters gave a fuck most of the people in the world were dying, and it was shot in such a way that we didn’t give a fuck either – which pisses me off! How do you make a film about the end of the world, and not care about the people who die? If I wanted to see a film where death was as inconsequential as it is in this movie, I would go and see a film from the point of view of a serial killer. At least then, I would come out saying “wow, that’s amazing how you get pulled so far into the character’s head that these people he kills just seem irrelevant – their life wasn’t important, they were just there to die – what an incredible director – how did he pull that off? Invent such a depraved yet identifiable character, and get you to see the world exactly as he does? That’s getting the Oscar for sure, mark my words. I wish I could write something that intelligent!”, rather than “huh, so apparently everyone around you dying is just fun, or something?”. People laughed at my suggestion that what made Zombieland good was the fact that the lead is clearly a sociopath who gets off on the idea of killing, but seeing this, I’m worried I may have been over-thinking things. Maybe in movies, people just don’t give a fuck about life and death – and death really is inconsequential as far as movie producers are concerned. In which case, I may have to go back and mark Zombieland down, because that’s the whole reason I liked that movie – I thought we only had such a lack of caring in films if they were told from the perspectives of Psychopaths (please don’t tell me American Psycho isn’t supposed to make you identify with Patrick’s views on death and murder, or I will actually go on a killing spree myself, just to understand the level of detachment movie producers must feel from other human beings)!
"My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip. Regards, Jerry Bruckheimer."
I mean, I understand you can’t show enough about everyone who dies to make you genuinely care about their deaths, otherwise the film would take hours. But you could at least show enough so we can sort of identify with them, as in “Knowing”, or at the very least have your main character break down crying at the tragic loss of life or something, rather than just have him carry on, non-plussed. I seriously had the feeling that the view of the general population who went to see this movie must just be “people die. Who gives a fuck?” – and I fear for the future of humanity. How can anyone be as cold as the characters in this film? They don’t seem to give a fuck about ANYONE! Even when the mother’s boyfriend/new husband (or whatever) dies, she seems upset for about 2 minutes, then just stops caring, maybe even forgets he existed. How is anyone that detached? This was either the best study of how a serial killer would write a disaster movie I’ve ever seen, or a movie with such poor writing, and un-empathetic characters it shouldn’t exist. PLEASE tell me a serial killer wrote this movie!
Hmmm... I could really write a Disaster Movie right about now...
Now, having said that, there were a couple of moments where you felt the impact of deaths – such as the two old boys on the cruise ship – one of whom never got the chance to say goodbye to his son, and the other being the father of one of the main characters; but these moments were fleeting, and the number of deaths we don’t give a fuck about far outweigh the well done ones.
But enough on that, because I already covered how it SHOULD have been done in my “Knowing” review. I shall instead move on to the whole “Arks” sub-plot.
Yes, just like this. But not on Acid.
Although we learn about the plan near the start, it is only towards the end that we discover the scale of it. The leaders of the world have united to create a group of “arks”, which are built under a dam in China, and which are designed to allow the human race to survive the destruction of the world. Now, whilst I did feel like screaming “Boooo! If I wanted to watch Deep Impact, I would have watched that! But then again, if I wanted to watch a film with Elijah Wood in, I would have watched Green Street. Why am I not watching Green Street? And why is I called ‘Hooligans’ in America? Are Americans really that retarded that they need to know exactly what a film’s about before they’ll consider watching it? Deep Impact’s probably called ‘Meteorite’ over there. Or possibly even ‘Giant Space Rock’. You know what? Fuck America! No Americans are following this Blog, and that upsets me so much I’m going to insult them, and act like the only reason they don’t read my articles is because they’re too dumb!”, it also kind of made sense. I mean, how else could they possibly resolve the movie without killing everyone off? And since it’s a family movie, that wasn’t really an option. So, fair play.
What really made me laugh about the Arks was the way people were selected to go on them, to be saved. Whilst it was a lottery on Deep Impact, the producers of 2012 realised this would be retarded – because people would have to be told the end of the world was coming in advance for that to happen, and if they had been told then the whole John Cusack (sub?)plot would have been irrelevant. Instead, we are informed that people who pay the sum of $1 billion are entitled to a seat on the arc. Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen billionaries – but here’s what you would wind up with; A bunch of snobby motherfuckers who’ve never done a day’s proper work in their life, and sure as shit wouldn’t be able to perform the kind of hard labour you would need to restart human society – agriculture, mining, building, etc. So the producers put in another little explanatory note, stating that a large number of other people were selected from the Earth’s population, based on who had the best genes to continue the human race…
Seriously, were these guys watching “Doctor Strangelove” thinking it was a serious discussion on how best to continue civilization after a massive disaster, or something? I mean, sure, it makes sense choosing those who can work, and who can reproduce (which is why I wasn’t outraged when one of the charcters decided to leave his 89 year old mother with Alzheimer’s at home), but where does it all go too far? I’m over 6 foot with Blonde hair and Blue Eyes, and fairly athletic (though a little on the fat side) – does that mean I get in before anyone else? Oh wait, I have to wear contact lenses, and have flat feet! Fuck, I can’t get a place! We need perfect Aryans without any Handicaps to continue the human race! Is there an IQ requirement? Damn, I’m only 141 – you need 145 to be classed as a genius and granted a place! Fuck! Do they go on qualifications? I have a law degree! What’s that? Knowledge of a bunch of old documents will be worth fuck all when we have to completely rebuild society, and I should have studied Engineering or medicine instead? FUCK! I mean, it just seems ridiculous that anyone in the modern world would consider trying to create a master race – and I’m not just saying that because I have Chinese friends…
(Ok, I am – I’m happy with the “Blonde haired, Blue eyed, tall and of Germanic decent Qualifications, really”).
The “Arks” thing therefore seemed a little ridiculous to me. But then, I went on IMDB, and no-one else on the 2012 board seems to have made the Nazi connection in the same way I did, so maybe I’m the only one? Personally, though, I felt “Knowing” handled this better – simply because the people had no say in who came or went, so it didn’t end up being completely retarded. Though, of course, perhaps 2012 was simply trying to capture the ridiculous nature of modern society and politics in a satirical manner worthy of Armando Iannucci, and I simply missed it? Maybe everyone else saw this movie as a satire, and I’m just too dumb to spot something like that? Am I fucking retarded? Did you guys really all see this when I didn’t? Fuck! It all makes sense now – I was trying to watch a comedy as though it was an honest, serious movie! God, I must sound stupid. Is the egg showing, or what?
Ok, so rant over – let’s just get the acting out the way to wrap this thing up:
Acting is poor all round. No-one really nailed it except the bad guy on the Ark who wants to keep all the poor people out – and he probably only managed it because that’s his actual opinion, or something. John Cusack was boring, and one-dimensional (like ALL the characters in this fucking film!), and seemed miscast. If I were the producers, I would have cast George Clooney, on the assumption that even if people didn’t like the movie, every woman, and 25% of the men who saw it would come out satisfied (working on the assumption that 10% of the male population is supposedly gay, so 15% more being bi sounds about right) – but what do I know? The rest of the family were terribly written, as stated above, and the acting didn’t help improve the dire characters. It’s admittedly rare that an actor can turn a horribly written part around, and these certainly weren’t up to the job. The black guy from 4 brothers was cool to see again, and I loved the fact he’s actually English – but the character himself was only slightly less boring than the others. Thandie Newton was Bland, and Danny Glover’s heart wasn’t in it (plus, when did he develop that Lisp?) Woody Harrelson seemed to be having fun filming his character’s scenes – but he was overacting way too much. Now, granted, with that sort of character you have to, but he just wasn’t convincing. And I like over-the-top parts: Wayne Gale in Natural Born Killers I can believe. Looney Bin Jim in Punisher: War Zone I can buy. Riddick in Pitch Black I can believe. But this guy? Sorry. However, my little brother and I did like the old Russian Don, especially when asked why his plane was so big, he responded “it’s Russian” – best line in the fucking film.
I also felt like they could have improved the movie massively by just throwing us a curb-ball. When John Cusack falls into a gorge opened up by an earthquake, I started genuinely hoping he had died – because it would have been so much more intelligent! The guy set up as the main character dies 50 minutes in, and the step dad takes over as the lead? Fucking genius! And not been overused, either (apparently Lost was meant to be like this, with the main guy dying in the last minute of the pilot, but the Networks changed it because fuck them. Not that I ever watched Lost, I’m just saying – nice concept). Or how about the Arks fail, and everyone aboard dies, but there is an area of the planet not too badly effected, so the human race carries on, just as a primitive tribe in the rainforest or in Africa or something, so it’s like God’s vengeance has wiped out our society of greed and corruption, and only spared the truly innocent, which would tie in nicely with the whole Noah’s Ark theme (as in ‘Knowing’. Sure, the aliens COULD have saved Adults too, but they wanted the uncorrupted children to help rebuild the human race as something much better – hence the religious connotations to the Noah’s Ark story from Genesis). Just ANYTHING to mix it up, and make the film a little different, and not just a predictable load of drivel.
So, as you can tell, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the movie. However, I will say this for it: as a movie you can just stick in and watch without thinking about, it was good. It was silly, it was preposterous, it was poorly written with awful effects. But hell, I loved Flashforward, and that certainly fits that description. So does Doctor Who. So why the hell not recommend 2012, on the assumption that it does what it says on the tin – it gives you a loose story set around a bunch of special effects. Hell, if you’re into the disaster movie genre, or if you’re big on the effects movies (King Kong, Transformers, Avatar, etc.), you’ll probably love this film! My little brother certainly did. I suppose it al depends on whether you can just zone out, and watch a movie for the sake of watching a movie, rather than look for something deeper in it. I will therefore not give this film 1 star, in acknowledgement of the fact that it achieved all it set out to. Also, there’s a fuckload of worse movies out there more deserving of my 1 star rating!
Not a good movie – predictable and boring, with nothing to separate it from other similar movies (Armageddon, Deep Impact, the Day after Tomorrow) and with some poor effects. But, exciting enough you won’t turn it off – and given it’s nearly 3 hours, I suppose that’s saying something! It’s not too hard to enjoy, as long as you don’t try and take it at all seriously. Just zone out, and let the movie wash over you, and I’m sure it’s fantastic. It just didn’t quite do it for me. I can’t really recommend this film, but to be honest, if you haven’t seen it already, you probably weren’t going to.
p.s. I should just Qualify - I am not a Nazi, I have as much Jewish blood in me as I do German (well, both stemming from the same ancestor, in fact; who had the foresight to come to England before the war kicked off, and who fought in the British Army against his own countrymen), I just thought people would appreciate the joke.