Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

November 13, 2009

Fun-tastic finish

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:38 am

November 13, 2009

Cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton

Direction: Roland Emmerich

Don’t go in to watch director Roland Emmerich’s 2012 if you’re going to come out complaining that it’s a preposterous film. Let’s face it, what did you expect?

Using an ancient Mayan prophecy to establish its doomsday scenario, this nihilistic disaster flick is based around the premise that the world’s coming to an end in the year 2012. So a massive solar flare leads to a displacement in the earth’s crust, which in turn brings about global earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tidal waves.

In simple terms, it means we’re all toast.

Cue then for some shamelessly breathtaking scenes in which everything from the Eiffel Tower and the Sistine Chapel to the White House and the Washington Monument is smashed and shattered, or simply swept up by giant tsunamis. High-rise buildings tumble like packs of cards, and bridges and freeways collapse down the middle.

The obligatory personal story comes in the form of John Cusack, who plays Jackson Curtis, a divorced, failed novelist-turned-limo driver who must protect his kids and do some larger good too.

But 2012 is really about the spectacle. Imagine a plane taking off on a runway that’s crumbling beneath it. A car racing through a street that’s splitting at its centre. A cruise liner toppling over on being hit by a massive wave. Or a speeding van dodging giant volcanic bursts. Sure Emmerich relies heavily on special effects and CGI, but these are sights and sounds and effects that you’ve never seen before. It’s louder, crazier and more exhilarating than anything you’ve ever experienced.

Is it cheesy? Yes, of course. Does the dialogue make you cringe? It does every now and then. Is it often so unbelievable that you have to laugh? Yes, that too. 2012 isn’t the best film I’ve seen this year, but I can’t remember the last time I had so much guilty fun.

This is unpretentious, blockbuster entertainment and it beats Emmerich’s own Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrowas far as scale and spectacle is concerned.

At two hours and 40 minutes, it does get too long, but at no point can you deny that it’s irresistibly entertaining. I’m going with three out of five for Roland Emmerich’s 2012; approach it on its own terms, and you’ll agree it’s 200 bucks well spent.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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