dir: Roland Emmerich
Oh my good gods, I think I’d rather have the world destroyed than ever watch another movie directed by Roland Emmerich.
Honestly, this has to be coming from a completely and utterly egomaniacal place, doesn’t it Roland? A director so focussed on destroying the world has to be taking himself very fucking seriously. What greater feeling of god-like power could he derive from that ruining the world twice in flicks so long, so implausible and so boring that they could themselves lead to the mass extinctions he creates stupid stories about?
Look, I’m not saying that the FBI and local police should be investigating this guy to see if he’s a serial killer or not, but someone with this kind of taste for death doesn’t restrict himself to the editing room. That desire for power over life and death over other people often results in a lot of dead hookers and hitchhikers. That’s all I’m saying.
That’s all I’m saying about that libellous topic, not about this monstrosity of a film.
I tried, lords almighty, I tried. I tried to approach this flick in the spirit of fun, of open-mindedness, of curiousity.
The fact is there is absolutely nothing redeemable about this bloated, boring monstrosity of a flick. There are possibly a few minutes where I maintained some mild non-absolute-apathy, but their ratio to the two and a half fucking dull hours is so negligible that it barely warrants calculating.
Of course that’s not going to stop me from ranting for around two thousand words as to why exactly our species deserves to die because of films like this.
I’m not a screenwriter, you’re probably not a screenwriter, but you will learn just how horribly easy it is to compile a script once you see this flick. Of course, what it will do is reinforce a tremendous amount of clichés that you thought were tired and creaky back before you were even born. Yes, they’re so creaky they can travel backwards through time. There’s got to be a word for something so cliché that it moves human evolution backwards, and whatever it is, I’m sure Roland fucking Emmerich will copyright it.
In a flick where you intend to kill billions of people, in fact, almost all the people on the planet, you, as a viewer, are expected to not care unless they, the makers, give you some specific people to relate to. That way the catastrophes that are killing everyone else in the story are only a source of excitement for you as you watch your heroes evade danger at every turn.
In that, we’re given John Cusack, as a divorcee Weekend Dad who has to win back the love of his kids, who seem to prefer Weekday Dad.
Isn’t that the fucking clichés to beat all clichés? When was the last time you saw a flick where that wasn’t the primary dynamic right from the start? To go one step further, when was the last time you saw a flick where a divorced mother had to defy death at every turn in order to win back the affection of her disaffected kids?
Kramer Versus Kramer doesn’t count, since, you know, that’s Meryl Streep, and she’s soooo versatile.
Here’s where the “not only that’s” kick in. Not only that, but Cusack’s character, called, as some kind of gag about 50 Cent that I don’t really get, Jackson Curtis, is a science fiction novelist whose book predicts humanity’s struggle with a global catastrophe. Not only that, but his book is read by a scientist at the forefront of doing not that much in the face of certain doom. Not only that, but Jackson is a limo driver indentured to a Russian oligarch (the great Zlatko Buric, who’s certainly not Russian at all), who has a role to play in the shenanigans transpiring.
Not only that, but you get the idea.
It’s hard with these ‘ensemble’ films made with reverential respect in honour of auteurs like Robert Altman or Federico Fellini, to figure out who the main character is meant to be. Emmerich’s shitfests traditionally have about twenty main characters, ten of whom are just annoying, five of which you actively pray will be killed off, and five whom you’re indifferent to. It’s meant to give some overall perspective or all-encompassing marketing orgy of demographics, but what it really does, regardless of how they’re all connected, is make you wonder “Who’s this guy and why do we care, again?”
There are actors in this I really like, but they all, to my eyes at least, have this look on their faces like: “Don’t be too down on me for being in this, it was just for the money, okay?” Which is why I don’t really feel any lingering resentment towards Chiwetel Ejiofor, or Thandie Newton, or the previously mentioned titan of Danish cinema Zlatko Buric. There’s three million other people in the flick, but they don’t matter. They all do terrible work here, but it’s not like they could have done any differently, since Roland Emmerich is the worst big budget director working who’s not called Michael Bay.
The difference is that Bay at least admits (if only to himself or the teenage prostitutes he abuses) that his crap flicks are a form of pornography. Emmerich wants to act like his world-destroying magnum opuses are weighty, significant and deeply meaningful films.
They’re not. They’re fucking terrible. 2012 is fucking terrible. Have no fucking doubts about that, comrades, it’s terrible. Is it as terrible as Godzilla, Independence Day, The Patriot or The Day After Tomorrow? Well, when you’re comparing different buckets of shit, differentiating between the quality of the respective handles become just academic quibbling, really, doesn’t it?
A massive solar flare causes the earth’s core to heat up, somehow predicted by the Mayans to destroy the earth in 2012, despite the fact that the Mayans used a completely different calendar and could not possibly have come up with a numerical designation like 2012, since they never really knew we were going to change the calendar to honour the birth of Our Lord Big Baby Jesus, did they? Regardless, Chiwetel Ejiofor, so awesome in so many other movies, is relegated to playing Cassandra, prophesying doom and being disbelieved until it’s way too late. Except they believe him right from the start, and so begins the most ambitious project in human history to safeguard the survival of the human race.
Since Emmerich’s flicks depend on catastrophe-porn to entice an audience, there are many, but probably not enough, scenes where people are just barely escaping from collapsing buildings, exploding volcanoes, earthquakes and super-duper tsunamis that are so high that they give the lamas of Tibet, and the Chinese soldiers oppressing them, such an almighty soaking. None of these scenes can really be taken seriously, because they’re just so fucking ridiculous. But they’re not ridiculous in the way that the Transporter or the Crank flicks are ridiculous, where the ridiculousness of the action is part of the fun. We’re supposed to think it’s even vaguely believable in this context, as we watch a man drive a limo through a collapsing building, or someone pilot a plane in between two collapsing buildings.
At least I think we’re supposed to take it seriously. As my beloved said as we were watching the wretched film, “Why doesn’t he fly a bit higher?”
Why? Well, that would make sense, but it wouldn’t look as death-defying, would it?
So as John Cusack, who, in every scene, looks painfully and awkwardly like the audience couldn’t possibly believe how little he wants to be there, dodges giant ash clouds, torn open ravines, mega-waves and magma meteorites juuuust barely in time, we care because even though six billion people have died in the mean time, he has done everything humanly possible to look cool in front of his surly teenage son.
This film even reduces Zlatko Buric, so awesome as the vile drug dealer Milo in the Danish Pusher trilogy, to a blank, xenophobic and boring role, as he struggles with phonetic English and struggles even more with a terrible role rendered even more terrible because he has to do everything to save his two loathsome twin sons, who are even more repugnant than the insides of the head of the man who dreamed all this generic disaster crap up.
I could go on, but this is the final nail I’m going to drive into this stupid flick’s coffin: early on, when Jackson is forced to endure time with his kids, his harpy ex-wife (Amanda Peet, who looks like she’s been hitting the ice pipe pretty damn hard), warns him that his seven-year-old daughter is having trouble with bed-wetting, and needs to wear Pull-Ups. Now, to me, that’s a greater tragedy than the destruction of the entire earth. For the rest of the flick, no further mention of her problem is made, what with all the exciting things going on, like Danny Glover being crushed by an aircraft carrier, and human civilisation ending and such. But right at the end, the little girl gets the last line of the film.
“I’m not scared, Daddy. No more Pull-Ups.”
By all the gods, it moved me to tears to know that all it took for her to triumph over her bed-wetting was the CGI deaths of 99 per cent of the world’s population. You go, little girl, you go.
1 times Roland Emmerich has revealed himself to be an enemy not only of cinema but of humanity as well out of 10
“Kind of galling when you realize that the nutbags with cardboard signs had it right the whole time.” – 2012.