President Donald Trump has been the most powerful man in the world for over a month. Yet the world is still in one piece. To prepare myself for disaster, I re-watched a film I hated at the cinema, ‘2012.’ I left the cinema less than impressed after ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ a smaller scale disaster film than Emmerich’s usual globe spanning adventures (read my review of that film here). Would ‘2012’ satisfy my appetite for destruction? No matter how many national monuments he digitally destroys, Emmerich finds it difficult to direct a decent film. Each of his disaster films are bloated, over-reliant on CGI, poorly scripted, illogically plotted, etc (just check out Independence Day: Resurgence for proof, and read my review here). And they are populated with good actors, giving them a veneer of respect.
After watching it for a second time (yes, I did watch it at the cinema!), I think it would work better as a spoof (just like ‘Paranormal Activity,’ a film that came out close to ‘2012,’ would have (check out my review of that here!). It’s quite ridiculous, fitting in with the spoof nature of the whole. Before it came out, I wrote a piece about how the trailer told the story of the whole film. You could guess the nature of the characters and the basic plot. Not only that, but most of the money shots of destruction were shown in the trailer. I may as well have not watched the film!
“Not good. That is not good.”
Just think about the characters for a second. They are clichéd to spoof levels of cliché. There is the mad man who predicted all of this, yet nobody believed him. There is the man who wanted to stick to the plan against the man who wanted to do ‘what is right’, even if it meant putting the remnants of mankind in danger. There is the divorcee who might or might not get back with his ex-wife in the end. There’s a noble death that redeems a character. The silly plot about neutrinos heating up the Earth’s core is spun at the start in a quick five minute scene. Everyone apart from the Americans were stereotyped caricatures (yes, they were that bad!).
Millions of people die without a second thought in CGI splurges, and yet we’re met to care about the fate of the few? The characters are so bland that even after watching it a few days ago, I can’t remember their names. I shouldn’t have to read my notes to remember something in recent memory! The scenes of destruction are even blander. For the second time in an Emmerich film, the White House is destroyed. But it’s destroyed in an even more ludicrous way than ‘Independence Day.’ Sure, a few monuments that haven’t seen on-screen destruction are destroyed, but their symbolism is laughable at best (at one point, a crack appears between the Adam and God in Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam! Oh, how subtle!). Birds fly about before the world tears itself apart, because, you know, animals can sense these things! No difficult choices are made (or even presented). The film moves from boring chase scene to boring chase scene without bothering to reflect on the millions of lives lost.
“The Director of the Louvre is an enemy of humanity?”
A major thing that grinds my gears is the horrific anti-British sentiment that ran throughout the film. Apparently, at G8 Summits, Britain does not attend (or our PM called in sick that day). Even though every other seven nations were shown in succession, Britain lay unrepresented. A brief flash of pandemonium is shown in London, as policemen on horses ran wild in what I’m sure is footage taken from the 1970s. At the end with the silly ‘arks’ (oh my, another biblical reference!), Germany spoke for Europe, and mentioned the United Kingdom by name! So that’s at least two mentions of Britain, both in a disparaging manner. But the most obvious example of this anti-British sentiment is the death of one of those conspirators who is about to reveal the secret of entire world destruction. This man is the Director of the Louvre. Anyway, he’s driving along in his car, on the way towards a press conference, and he comes to this motorway tunnel. ‘Hmmm, that’s familiar’, I thought. Then it clicked. It is the tunnel Princess Diana met her demise. Although the guy doesn’t die in a head-on collision, a bomb blows up beneath his car as he enters the tunnel. It’s a pornographic pot-shot at one of the most traumatic incidents in recent British history. And the ‘coincidence’ is even mentioned on the radio afterwards. We Brits may have fallen from a great world power long ago, but why do the Americans still trash us in their films?
As a spoof, it would be perfect. Think of the great spoof of Arnold Schwarzenegger, or the trite but hilarious dialogue. Or Danny Glover’s President saying ‘I’m coming home, Dorothy,’ minutes before the USS John F Kennedy smashes into the White House. But it isn’t a spoof. It’s supposed to be taken seriously. I guess it does supply the audience with excessive scenes of destruction. But apart from the monument destruction montage, everything else blurs into one big skyscraper falling down. There has to be some glue holding the other parts of the film together. Caricatures and stereotypes do not make gripping characters that we care about. Neither does sterile dialogue. Without this glue, it’s just destruction porn, and boring destruction porn at watch. Instead of this, I should have gone back to the classic disaster films…
VERDICT: 2/10. Let’s hope that when the end of the world arrives, it’s more entertaining that ‘2012.’
What did you think of ‘2012’? Leave your comments below!