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For as long as mankind has been around there have been two subjects woven into the fabric of every society; how the world was created and how it will ultimately come to an end. This is so incredibly fundamental to the hums n condition that these topics are prominently explored in every cultural mythology and religion ever devised. With a topic like this a common bond transcending all cultural boundaries it is not surprising that many films have taken on one theory or another of how the world will end. Many myths and religious explanations are interpreted to have something to do with the calendar turning over to a new millennium. Of course such a concept is rather artificial since the end of the world is a global event and calendar systems are specific to a certain society or ethic group. There are numerous eschatological theories related to the year 2012. Some date back to the belief that the Mayan calendar ends in December 2012, as depicted by our Gregorian calendar. In such theories numbers and events can be manipulated to arrive at just about any conclusion desired. This makes it perfect for a movie since any perceived problems with continuity can be easily dismissed. What helps in the recent movie ‘2012’ is the way the film makers chose to present this story. Much of the mythology is overshadowed by the pseudo scientific etiology of our demise. This doesn’t play to the conspiracy theorist by shifting the genre to a good old fashion disaster flick. In that genre the scienctific jargon just has to sound impressive and plausible; accuracy is allowed to take seat behind the all important action. It is certain that some will view this film as a cautionary tale or endless debate the possibility of the events and circumstances depicted here. Personally I found it a lot better to just sit back with a large tub of popcorn and enjoyed the experience.

Once the studio decided to back this project as a big budget disaster flick spectacular success would rest with the man at the helm. Fortunately for the audience they got a film maker with a proven track record in this type of movie; Roland Emmerich. He has brought about the end of the world several times now and with each global catastrophe he just pushes the effects to increasingly imaginative heights. He had a Russian ship ice bound in the middle of New York City in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. With ‘Independence Day’ the world was crushed by invading aliens and with ‘10,000BC’ we got to watch the end of a once thriving civilization. Of course with a budget in excess of a staggering $200 million the studios were not about to hand the reigns over to a new comer. Although many were negatively critical of the film it reached the audience properly since it made that sum back in its first weekend and would go on to triple the profits making this one of Emmerich’s biggest box office hits. Normally a consideration of a film would include a critique of the technical proficiency of the cast and crew. While there is some validity to this approach within this genre this kind of movie is intended as a pure adrenaline rush roller coaster ride for the sole purpose of giving the audience a couple of hours of escapist entertainment. Since this was the intended goal of the film makers’ the only criteria that truly matters is whether the film rises to those expectations. Ultimately the answer to that is ‘Yes’. The film may not be factual or realistic and some of the characters superficially drawn but the movie can provide a lot of fun to watch.

The film opens in 2009 as geologist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is conferring with his colleague Satnam Tsurtuani (Jimi Mistry) about a worrisome discovery. Deep in a copper mine in India they are detecting neutrinos from a recent massive solar flare. There effect on the earth’s core is like a microwave resulting in an extremely rapid increase in its temperature. They extrapolate the change determining that in a few short years the result will be a series of catastrophic events that will end civilization around the globe. This is brought to the attention to the American President who in turn informs the other world leaders during the G8 conference. The governments decide that humanity must be saved but informing the general population of the world would precipitate global panic so a huge covert project is initiated to create a series of ‘arks’ high up in the Himalayas to save 400,000 fortunate people. Most of the spots will go to leading members of the participating governments and those possessing ‘special’ skills but one billion Euros will garner a reserved seat. Moving to the critical year of 2012 we start to get some of the more recognizable actors. Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) is a limo driver for a billionaire which gives a peripheral place in the action and a springboard into the thick of things. There is a mention of the Mayan calendar and a much needed map to add a little quest into the mix but what you really want from an Emmerich movie. There are huge earth quake destroying well known locations and a super volcano erupting in the middle of Yellowstone National Park (there is a current dormant volcano there for real) and a whole lot of fires, explosions and full scale destruction. The Blu-ray version of this is absolutely mind blowing. The video is flawless and the 7.1 audio will shake you out of your seat. This is a fun movie just don’t try to think or rationalize it.

Posted 02/16/2010

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