Directed (and co-written by) Roland Emmerich
John Cusack as Jackson Curtis
Amanda Peet as Kate Curtis
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Adrian Helmsley
Danny Glover as President Thomas Wilson
Running time: 2 hrs 38 mins (to paraphrase the movie's tagline: You were warned!)
Watched alone on DVD, early morning July 27, 2010
I got this movie from RedMailMovieRental (yeah, you know who I mean, but I'm trying for no free press) because my parents say the preview and said they would like to see it. I'm a sucker for an easy way to please my parents, what can I say. While my parents initially watched it without me, I thought I'd pop it in and watch it before I returned it. For those who don't know what this movie is about, it's pretty simple: The world is going to end and a mostly decent guy who's come up short with his family goes to heroic lengths to save them and others that they stumble upon along the way. This time the world is being destroyed by... um, I'm not really sure, but I think it's mostly the earth's tectonic plates/crust shifting, causing volcanoes and earthquakes and tsunamis. And the governments all over the world have pitched in money, artwork, rich people, and good genes to make some huge ships to save enough of humanity to rebuild society, but of course only a few people know about it and the plan only saves a small percentage of people.
I'd like to take a really quick sidebar to say that I never have, and probably never will, claim to be consistent in my little reviews of movies. As of right now, I'm not a professional film critic nor am a professional film scholar. And, not that I have to tell my RL friends but, my mood and events at the time really effect how I see any and all works of art. Also, for me, I try to take into account what the movie is trying to accomplish vs what I think it accomplishes, in addition to if I think the movie is good as a film, as a work of art. For example, I think that Inception was a better, more thought-provoking, more beautiful, more crafted film than 2012, but I also know that wasn't what 2012 was trying to be. On the other hand, as cheesy and emotionally obvious as 2012 could be, I still felt something during it, almost cried a couple times, whereas I didn't feel that emotion investment in Inception. I just wanted to be clear that I do not claim to be consistent. Or rational. Ever. Just take that into account.
So back to the movie. As I put the movie in, I saw the running time and thought, "Oh, shit. What have I gotten myself into? This is going to be so long and tedious and ugh. Oh well. What else am I doing?" Early on, I noticed things in the movie that just.... wouldn't happen. In one scene, though much later in the movie, one of the US bigwigs going to the ships, in semi-rural China, gets a call on his cell from his friend in India's cell. This is after most of the US and probably Europe has been wiped out. Um... I don't think so. Ok, so things like this and other too-coincidental incidents made me just throw all notions of "I know I need to suspend a bit of disbelief but it still needs to be realistic" out the window, so I just enjoyed what it was, CGI-destructo-fest. At which point, I actually enjoyed it. It was pretty good CGI of things we'll never see, as even if this scenario played out, there's very little chance we'd see all the things we do in the movie before we died. So if you want to enjoy a disaster action movie and are willing to suspend all disbelief, this is a pretty good movie. Later on that morning, I realized that day would have also been my grandmother's birthday. I really think she would have enjoyed this movie. While she complained about them making movies "too loud" these days, she always really liked action movies, even action movies these days, though she often "tutu"-d the crassness and everything-out-there-ness of most comedies and dramas "these days," after maybe 1985 or so. This movie is probably definitely for those people (like my parents and my grandma) who always asked me why I couldn't just enjoy the goddamn move, why did I have to think about it.
BUT I do want to touch on something that a few critics pointed out at the time the movie hit theaters. Though I can't remember who it was, I do remember the movie being called "disaster porn" by one critic. I will readily admit that while I watched the movie, I thought that more people in the movie should be more sad that almost all of humanity and all land-based creatures were dying, often in really horrible ways. There were times during the movie when I was sad about the general loss of life happening, even when the movie wasn't pointing that out, was instead pointing out all the really cool action happening. I completely understand what that critic meant. On the other hand, there are many things I enjoy, in all kinds of different weird ways, seeing, but would never ever ever want to happen in real life. Yeah, I got a kick out of seeing Los Angeles destroyed with all that cool CGI, but I no more want that to happen than I want people to be able to navigate my dreams or even for Kristen Bell and Josh Dumiel to find happiness and love together. I love a good horror movie, but I don't actually want killer bloodsucking vampires in real life or ghostly/demonic possession or spree/serial killers. That is one part of the thrill of movies, for me and for many other people as well, so I'm trying not to write this "disaster porn" off too quickly.