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Apocalypse of Cliches

By Elvis D Silva
November 13, 2009 10:59 IST
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What is the point of a movie set in times of apocalyptic events? To warn and perhaps obliquely make mankind aware of a possible threat? To offer a ray of hope? At the very least to wow and amaze with images of awe-inspiring destruction?

So what happens when a major Hollywood motion picture comes along that does none of the above and takes away two-and-a-half hours of your time? Nothing good I assure you.

From my opening paragraph you should be prepared for what I thought of 2012, the latest epic from Roland Emmerich, the director who last provided the world with an entertaining cinematic spectacle in 1996 with Independence Day.

Sure it was ridiculous that the humans were finally able to defeat the aliens by infecting their ships with a computer virus but that movie had some cool scenes in it. Since then his filmography has featured such masterpieces as Godzilla, The Patriot, The Day After Tomorrow and 10,000 BC.

The plot of this movie sounds like it was researched off Wikipedia using keywords like 'Apocalypse', 'Mayan calendar' and 'sun spot activity'. Because that's how this movie begins -- sun spot activity in 2008 that is spotted by an Indian astrophysicist (Jimi Mistry speaking in a ridiculous Indian accent that sounds like it came packaged in a Simpsons lunch box) causes great concern.

He shares his findings with an American scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who promptly flies back to America, gatecrashes a black tie fundraising event and informs the Cabinet secretary (Oliver Platt) about what he has learnt.

Four years later John Cusack is late to pick up his kids for a camping trip from the home they share with his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and her new man (Thomas McCarthy). When they arrive at Yellowstone National Park they encounter a fence around the area they were supposed to camp in and when the army arrives to escort them away, the scientist encounters the writer. That's right, Cusack plays an unsuccessful author who drives a limo to make ends meet. This is that kind of movie.

One thing leads to the other, turns out the calculations were off and the end of the world (as we know it) is arriving earlier than the November date provided by the ancient Mayans.

So of course Cusack's is the one family we are supposed to care about while the rest of the planet is going to hell. Why? I don't know. It never becomes clear. Not once during the arduously long running time. 

Assorted cardboard cutout characters are peppered along the course of this special effects showreel and it is pointless to tally them up because you won't care about any of them.

The filmmaking is so shoddy and been-there, done-that that I started trying to remember other movies I had seen the same special effects in -- I counted Titanic, Constantine, Speed 2, the aforementioned Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow and The Perfect Storm. I'm sure I'm missing a few but that's what the comments section is for.

2012 is lazy, lazy filmmaking completely lacking in character, humour or entertainment. The dialogue is so bad I am surprised any of the actors were able to say a single word without smirking. Forget about fearing the imminent end of the world, the only thing you will dread is the amount of time left until the end of this movie.

I suppose this movie could provide some amusement as an accompaniment to a slow evening where a drinking game is involved. Beyond that, the only thing this movie gives me cause to fear is the very real possibility of death by boredom.

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Elvis D Silva in Mumbai