So I checked out Roland Emmerich's new joint, 2012, last night (or is it this morning) for the midnight show. With the exception of that piece-of-shit 10000 BC, I've enjoyed all of his movies as dumb fun spectacles -- even his Godzilla flick, I dug. It was a packed house; on the other end of my row were a bunch of rowdy teens who would ask people in other rows if they believed in the whole 2012 phenomenon, and those who agreed were met with cheers and "Yeah, 'cause its TRUE, baby!". These kids were harmless, just having fun; I did not wish for Charles Bronson to show up and introduce them to his friend Wildey like I usually do to troublemaking youths. The best part was when one moviegoer told them that not only did he believe in 2012, he's already stocked up with food and ammo. One kid asked him what if it comes down to a flood, and the man smiled -- "That's why I have a boat". The kids cheered.
When the movie started, the framing was off, with the bottom of the film on the top. The place went ape-shit, but this might as well have been the cinematic equivalent of Kitty Genovese because nobody did anything. After about a minute of this, I ran outside and picked up the conveniently placed Guest Services phone in the aisle and told the person in charge. It was fixed quickly. More theaters should offer these direct line phones, they fuckin' rule. You can call them for projection problems, sound problems or people problems. If I ever have to do it for the latter, I'll probably act like some 70's style snitch leaving an anonymous tip to the fuzz.
Does it really matter what the details are in how our planet comes to an end? I hope not, because I've mostly forgotten it by now. Something about the neutrinos boiling up the Earth's core and somehow that's gonna cause Earth Crust Displacement and mega-quakes and super volcanoes and tsunamis like a mutha. Some Indian (dot, not feathers) scientist discovers this shit in 2009 and tells his fellow scientist/good friend (played by homeboy from Redbelt -- SEE THAT SHIT NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T), so Redbelt goes off to tell Oliver Platt about it. The cool thing is that I figured half of this movie was going to be about how nobody believes Redbelt and the guys in charge get all Mayor Vaughn about it, laughing the warnings off and saying shit like "That is preposterous!". But no, in this movie, as soon as the government bigwigs get the report, they take that shit seriously and are on the motherfucker, like Marsellus Wallace.
The prologue takes us through some of the going-ons between 2009 and 2012 and then the shit gets real. In usual disaster movie fashion, we are introduced to a variety of characters, doing the whole ensemble cast thing. The top guys in this flick are definitely Redbelt and John Cusack, though. Speaking of Cusack, I remember an interview he gave a few years back when he said something like how he only liked about 10 of his movies and the rest were for money. That was pretty funny, and I don't think you need fuckin' Kreskin to pull out the reason for doing this movie out of the darkest recesses of Cusack's mind. I wonder if he kinda resents the peeps for not going to see him in movies he obviously cared about, like Grace is Gone or War, Inc. but flocked to see him in shit he straight-out considered beneath him like Con Air or Must Love Dogs. It sucks that he doesn't seem to be a fan of his work with Savage Steve Holland either, and I can live with that -- but if I ever find out that he thinks Tapeheads is a piece-of-shit, then he will have cemented himself in my mind as Talented Actor/Supreme Douchebag For Life.
So Cusack's a guy who wrote a book that only sold 422 copies and makes a living as a limo driver, his ex-wife Amanda Peet (who must be happy to be in something people will see for a change) and his two kids live with some plastic surgeon (who is only 15% of a dick instead of the usual 125% you'd expect in these kinds of flicks), and somewhere along the way he's gonna try to save them. There's also a Russian billionaire with his two scumbag asshole kids and his bimbo, Woody Harrelson as some nut who broadcasts a radio show out of a camper in Yellowstone National Park (he's pretty much Art Bell), a Buddhist monk and his family, a singing duo on a cruise ship (one played by George Segal, in a role not as big as I thought it would be -- no Judd Hirsch, this one), you got Thandie Newton here looking cute for a change, and playing the President of the United States, Danny Glover. Upon his introduction, one of the kids in the audience said out loud "I'm too old for this shit".
It's cool to see Danny Glover in a big-ass movie like this nowadays, because there was a period where it looked like that would only happen if he was saddled with the Drunk Jew Hater. But over the years it appears that D-Glo has gotten some dental work done. Maybe "appears" is the wrong word, more like it "sounds" like he's had work done, because every time he opens his mouth it sounds like he'th got himthelf thome dentureth and now he thpeakth with a lithp. Goddamn, this has been a bad year for actors with dentures; first you got Leonard Nimoy orating on the "voyageth of the thtarship Enterprith" in this year's Star Trek, and now Danny Glover is having trouble speaking. These guys have money, yet this is the best dental science they could buy? I'm broke, and I was rather British with my teeth growing up, so I know this is gonna be my future. Fuck. For God's sakes, people, floss floss floss. Don't be like me or Danny Glover or Leonard Nimoy.
Emmerich's older hits like Independence Day and Stargate were co-written with Dean Devlin and I don't know if they got into a lover's quarrel or split that shit amicably, but either way they don't make movies together anymore and you tell in the tone of the later films. How can that be, you ask, aren't all these flicks just shit exploding or falling apart? Well yeah, they are -- except the biggest difference is the lack of corny-ass jokes. That shit was obviously a Devlin special, and I still remember when the motherfucker was promoting Godzilla by showing clips from it on some E! program; he remarked on the creature's huge/deep footprints by claiming the big G wore "some big-ass Nikes", followed by the kind of goofy and satisfied chuckling that only the corniest of the corny give.
But the side-effect to all the Komedy! disappearing is that the sheer joy is gone as well. I mean, ID4 featured aliens vaporizing the fuck out of cities, millions of people died and yet you never really felt that loss because you were too busy laughing at Big Willie Style decking an alien and saying "Welcome to Earth!" -- we should be ashamed for finding that shit funny, by the way. Now that Devlin's gone, Emmerich writes his disaster movies with a dude named Harald Kloser. Think about that; without Borscht Belt Devlin, there's only a German and Austrian writing this shit and do you know what that means? It means you got motherfuckin' Sprockets in das haus. I noticed this shit with The Day After Tomorrow and straight on to 10000 BC and it's still in full effect here; I'm talking about the substitution of joy for utter bleakness. To put it in ID4 dialogue terms, 2012 is less "Now that's what I call a Close Encounter" and much, much more "Is Mommy sleeping now?". This isn't to say that it's completely humorless, because there are jokes, just not nearly as many as in the Devlin collaborations.
You can play a drinking game with how many tearful farewell I'm Gonna Die phone calls are made to family members in this flick. I'm not complaining, because if I recall correctly, there were lots of phone calls made on United 93, so it's a nice harsh dose of realism to a fantasy scenario (or is it? DUN DUN DUN!). Plus, one of those phone calls pays off with a particularly nasty ending, which I think was done on purpose, because Emmerich's a fuckin' sadist/German.
He extends his sadism when it comes to who lives and who dies. It's not quite Deep Blue Sea, because most of the characters you expect to live, will in fact, live. It's just that those who do end up getting owned get it pretty bad. Two of the worst deaths (in my opinion) go to two relatively likable people; in Emmerich's 2012, the innocent suffer and the guilty are not punished -- with the exception of one jerk whose death is so slow-mo'd that it was like Emmerich was telling the audience, "I hope you guys enjoy this asshole getting it, because this is the only time I give you douches the satisfaction, oh and by the way, thank you for paying money to see my movie". To make matters worse, I'm pretty sure that motherfucker died quickly (which is why they slow-mo it), whereas I Just Fucking Know the two cool people went slowly and painfully. Shit, there's even a character named Roland who gets got; the director doesn't even spare a motherfucker with the same name as him!
I'm reminded of something Quentin Tarantino said about watching the film Silver Bullet; he said that in the climax of the movie, you have this girl, a boy in a wheelchair, and Gary Busey, all fighting a werewolf. Now, you know they won't kill the girl because she's narrating the movie, and they're not gonna kill the boy in the wheelchair, so that leaves Busey. The movie can kill off Busey and not break any rules, and because of that, Quentin was totally scared for Busey's character. That's kinda how I felt about the secondary characters in this flick.
It's a great looking movie, as long as it's some special effects shit you're watching, because this movie was shot in HD, meaning that half of the human scenes look like film and the other half suffers from that goddamn video blur that makes you think you're watching a Samsung display in the Dynamic Vivid mode at your local Best Buy. Now the video blur might be okay when it's a Michael Mann or Lars Von Trier joint, because they want it to look that way, it's part of their style, but I hate when it happens on your average Hollywood movie. Dean Semler is the cinematographer here and he is an Oscar-winning badass responsible for shooting The Road Warrior and Dances with Wolves, but for God's sake, keep him away from the goddamn HD because he's one of the worst motherfuckers to use that format. Every movie he's shot on it, with the exception of Click, suffer in large parts from that fuckin' video blur. That's a fucked up place to be when your best looking movie in the format of the future is a fuckin' Adam Sandler movie.
2012 isn't a fun movie, but it's never boring and the flick's full of the kind of spectacle you put down your hard earned $6.50 to watch (if you're like me and buy a Child's ticket through the automated kiosk), if that's what you're looking for. It's a SyFy channel quality script given a Sony Pictures budget, but it's an above-average SyFy channel movie, the kind that you spent two hours watching at home with a bowl of Lucky Charms and a bowl of Strawberry Diesel and after, you're like "Hey that wasn't half bad, and it's good to see Jason London/Lorenzo Lamas/Stephen Baldwin working again". The acting is as good as can get in this type of movie, motherfuckers acting like they're doing Harold Pinter or some shit. No joke. With the exception of the awesome dude who plays the Russian billionaire (he plays that shit like he was a bad guy from one of the Boondock Saints movies), some of these thespians are thespianing the shit out of this flick -- especially Redbelt, he has this one scene where the vein is popping out of his forehead and he's near tears and I wonder if a CGI-techno-fetishist Kraut like Emmerich even cares THAT much, and he made the fuckin' thing.
When the trailers started, it was 12:00 and when the end credits came up, it was 2:45, so it's a long fuckin' movie. But it never felt long, it moved fast and always kept my interest. Even ID4, which I liked as a kid (but has since gotten worse as time goes on) had its lame boring parts to get through, but I didn't feel that way with this one, I was always into it. So much so, that I managed to hold in a piss for the second half, but it wasn't one of those painful pisses, it was one of those that merely makes itself noticed, so maybe that doesn't count. I'll tell you what does count, is the time I almost died holding it in when I first saw Mars Attacks! and didn't want to miss a second of it.
It's a weird conundrum or whatever the right word is; it's not a movie one should go out of the way to buy a ticket to see in a theater, 'cause it's not that fucking good, yet the beautifully-made apocalyptic visuals demand a theatrical experience, so if you're not going to see it in a theater, then just don't see it period. I don't give a fuck how big your fuckin' HDTV is or how awesome your Blu-ray plays, it's still not quite the same. So I guess the way to go is to just hit that shit at a discount house and I think I'm just gonna end it here.
1 day ago