Tuesday, April 02, 2013

It's the End of the World as Roland Emmerich knows it... again

I just remembered something I saw a while ago!  It was Roland Emmerich's 2012, the world's shortest 2 1/2 hour action juggernaut.  And now that the world hasn't ended, it's probably safe to talk about it.  What does seem to be at an end is the John Cusack that you and I once knew.  The Say Anything... John Cusack.  The Tapeheads John Cusack... am I the only one?  Probably.  I'm afraid his IMDb Top 4 don't do him justice.  Was 1408 really that good?  I can't say; I fell asleep during it, but apparently I didn't miss much.  When I woke up, he was still trapped in that room until he set it on fire.  Take that, Frankenstein!
But back to the movie at hand.  In most of Emmerich's big-budget movies, there's always a character named Jack.  In The Day After Tomorrow, Dennis Quaid was Jack, and everyone called his name, usually during the tense moments when he was heading into another dangerous situation.  In Stargate, Kurt Russell was the Jack.  And a guy named Jack Moore is always in the cast, or so it would seem.  In 2012, John Cusack plays a character named Jackson Curtis, just to mix the formula up a little bit.
The Plot Even a monstrosity like 2012 has a plot.  The dictionary defines a plot as a series of events that are lined up... something like that.  Very broad definition, which can even describe something like 2012.  The most interesting part for a guy like me is the beginning.  Just as global warming was tweaked to make The Day After Tomorrow have faster action, in 2012 it's neutrinos, if I remember correctly.  A neutrino telescope is used by astronomers and such to study supernovas.  When a star explodes, neutrinos are one of the subatomic particles that are given off in larger numbers.  Our own sun gives off a few neutrinos now and again, and the neutrinos are detected by looking at a giant pool of liquid.  This liquid, for the most part, is as calm as calm can be.  But not at the beginning of the movie.  At the beginning of the movie, we see a neutrino telescope in action, and it looks like a frickin' sauna bubbling away.  Something in our own solar system's going down.  It's the year 2009, and this solar phenomena is probably Obama's fault.
This neutrino megasurplus causes the earth itself to liquefy, volcanoes to explode, and Russian mobsters to freak out and want to fly back to Mother Russia.  Fortunately, Cusack has an unusual job, the Russian mobster's chauffeur, and this job prevents him from getting crushed like all the other cubicle dwellers invariably get.  The action genre has surely reached its pinnacle when Cusack's limo avoids getting crushed under one particularly close freeway overpass, and I mean avoids it like a hand in a glove.  He escapes the volcano explosion.  His small plane escapes the collapse of the Grand Canyon, or something similar to it.  It's been a while since I've seen the movie.
The Effects Let me just say this about the effects.  2012 seems to be two movies in one.  One is with spectacular special effects of destruction, which appear to have been rendered in lovely 24 frames per second with Renderman or whatever the Germans use in its stead.  Then, there's another with just practical shots that appear to have been filmed with a cellphone.  John Cusack in his limo, or Cusack and family on the giant Russian plane come to mind.  Even a $200 million plus blockbuster has to cut corners somewhere.
Just one last point about 2012 that I'd care to mention.  SPOILER ALERT: to prepare for this crisis, much like the Simpsons Halloween episode Life's a Glitch, Then You Die, the best and brightest have prepared vessels to protect themselves from the ecological calamity about to happen.  They're not going into space, though, but they're getting as close as they can with these "arks" located at the top of Mt. Everest, or some similar place.  There's something sobering about ocean water pouring over the top of the highest mountain, I'll give you that.  But my recent obsessive study of Stooge films has taught me much about the plots of the average movies.  There are four arks, and three of them close their doors normally.  The one that John Cusack and family are on, well, there's a problem with the doors on that one.  Something gets caught in the gears.  Why, you might ask?  Because if the ark closed normally and everything was fine, there'd be no dramatic tension.  Same thing with The Polar Express, actually.  Sure, we could be comfortable inside the train on the way to the North Pole, but we'd miss all the fun outside in the cold if we didn't ride on top of the train!
Okay, got that out of my system.  Now, let's never speak of 2012 ever again, or even think about watching it... unless, of course, it's on HBO or one of the other cable channels I've currently got.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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