December 02, 2009

'2012' Demolishes the Grandeur that Was Earth

Sometimes it seems Hell will freeze over before Roland Emmerich learns to focus on one character in his films.

2012, Emmerich's the-warnings-were-wrong-and-now-we're-screwed eco-disaster flick, is the most recent example of the director's tendency to think big and overlook the really, really important. Like a good script, for example. Or subtle performances.

Ah, no matter. That's not what you go to a disaster film for, right?

To be fair, 2012 wasn't as horrible as I expected...though it certainly wasn't good. It had all the usual stereotypes: the divorced dad who really cares for his family and somehow winds up back together with them (played with little nuance by John Cusack in his patented likable mode); the scientist (portrayed ably but thanklessly by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who really cares for humanity and doesn't want to see them wiped out by a bad script, er, the world turning into a puddle of lava and seawater; the President (interpreted with irritating bathos by Danny Glover) who decides to remain and die with everyone else, like that's gonna happen; and the evil fundraiser (!) who basically wants everyone to die so he can, er, live or something (represented by the slumming Oliver Platt). And the special effects--the film's selling point--were generally impressive, though a few screens, uh, seams appeared to show here and there, which mitigated the impact somewhat.

But oh, the script. 'Twas yucky. And the focus, or lack thereof, on multiple characters made it impossible to care about anyone. That was a problem Emmerich faced in movies such as Independence Day, though that picture had a bit of character to go along with all the jingoistic nonsense. I'd like to see a disaster film that, for once, homes in on one protagonist, rather than a multitude.

I know, however, that'll probably only happen when Hell freezes over. I'm fine with that--I can wait.

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