Movie Review: 2012

Movie Review: 2012



PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language.
Running Time: 2 hours 38 minutes

Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists and governments. 2012 is a movie which revolves around a family who goes on vacation in December 2012. Why is this significant? It coincides with the close of the Mayan calendar.

Just what will happen on December 21, 2012…

Why So Long….

When asked about the “end of the world” element in 2012, John Cusack, who plays Jackson Curtis said – “It’s just a big popcorn epic movie”. He’s right, don’t read too much into this movie. The hype has pushed the whole Mayan calendar end of the world prediction angle. But, reality is, 2012 spends very little time discussing that theme.

2012 is a movie! It’s meant for entertainment!

If you like big disaster type movies, you will like 2012. As Cusack said, 2012 is an epic popcorn movie. It’s meant for entertainment with lots of special effects, tumbling buildings, and earth shifting scenes.

But even after saying that, and I must admit I kind of like this genre when it comes to movies, sometimes watching such a movie is just plain tiring. For starters, 2012 clocks in at 2 hours and 38 minutes. That’s a long time to sit in a movie theater! It’s also way too long for a movie. If a movie is going to be more than 2 hours, it better be very, very good. Unfortunately, 2012 is not very, very good. By the time the movie was done, I was simply tired. Not because of the length, but because of the action. In all honesty, I only looked at my watch once and that was more of a “where are we in time,” than a look of “I’m bored when will this thing be over.”

The tired aspect comes from the sheer amount of action on the big screen. This is your typical end of the world catastrophe type movie. It’s complete with big screen special effects of buildings falling, ground shaking, people screaming and planes, trains and automobiles all fleeing from total destruction. 2012 is not a loud movie on the ears, but it is a busy movie on the eyes. There’s simply too much going on here. It ends up being somewhat of an assault on your visual senses. When all is said and done, after watching all the destruction, you end up leaving the theater feeling tired.

Did this movie have to be 2 hours and 38 minutes long?

In a word – NO! – I realize director/writer Roland Emmerich is known for his big special effects. But, give me a break and leave some of the material on the editing room floor. Emmerich has brought us other such notable special effect action movies like The Day After Tomorrow, The Patriot, Godzilla and Independence Day. He proves once again in 2012 he likes big action. However, at some point, you have to ask yourself if we really need 3 different plane take off sequences of runways crumbling behind them to get the message that the world was breaking apart.

Then, on top of the endless plane scenes, which were pretty much the same in every instance, there were the numerous similar car scenes too. We get the idea, the earth is shifting and people are fleeing earthquakes. But, we didn’t have to see half a dozen similar sequences of car scenes with crumbing ground all around. A simple edit of dropping one or two plane scenes and a couple car scenes, and 2012 would not have lost anything. Even better, a few edits would have put the movie at the 2 hour mark instead of 2 and a half hours.

There Is Breathing Room Too!

I do applaud the filmmakers for building in breathing space. Too often in movies such as this there’s so much action, there’s no time for the audience to catch their breath. When it’s nothing more than endless action, you can find yourself simply overwhelmed. Such is not the case with 2012. While there’s lots of action, there are some nice lull times in the action where you can relax.

Another genius component of 2012 revolves around the slight comic relief tossed in from time to time. Again, with so much action going on, there’s a need to laugh a little too. The writers do a great job of introducing humor via quick one liners strategically scattered through the movie. One of my favorite lines comes as John Cusack’s character turns to his daughter and says, “Just keep looking at me. Do I look scared?” His daughter responds by saying, “Yes!”

Finally, in the area of kudos for 2012, I also applaud the writers for maintaining a consistent theme and plot line throughout the movie. Many times a movie this long becomes disjointed and hard to follow. With so much going on, sometimes theme elements are left hanging here and there. But, for the most part, 2012 does not become a meandering bore. Not only is the scriptwriting strong, but the acting performances are great too. John Cusack is great, but then again, I usually like everything he does. Amanda Peet puts in a wonderful performance and Danny Glover plays a fantastic President of the United States.

Then there’s Woody Harrelson! He shows up as a wild-eyed end-of-the-worlder by the name of Charlie Frost. I did not know Harrelson was in this movie and I must admit, I enjoyed seeing him in this character. He plays the somewhat off-center characters so well. But, be forewarned, even though his character might look like a bit-part, stay alert when he’s on the big screen. Frost has some important elements pertaining to the flow of the movie too.

All in all, 2012 is an example of your typical catastrophic end of the world big screen epic type flick. Keep in mind – “It’s just a movie!” – The hype surrounding the whole Mayan calendar is just that, hype created to garner interest for a new movie. As I already mentioned, the whole Mayan calendar angle and theme has little to do with the theme of the movie.

If anything, this is a movie about family.

As for the rating, while it is PG-13, I have to say 2012 is NOT family-friendly. There’s simply too much chaos and catastrophe going on here to put this into the family-friendly arena. Is it worth seeing on the big screen? That all depends on your interest in movies of this genre. While I’m giving it 2.5 Lloyds, which is smack dab in the middle of our rating system, I’m putting it there because of the length. If you haven’t figured it out yet, in my opinion, 2 hours 38 minutes for this movie is simply too long.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.