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“Today, we are one family.”

There’s nothing like a global disaster to bring people together. Not all people, of course. Just some people. Nice people. Unobjectionable people. Normal Joes and regular gals and spunky precocious children. The people who really matter: they’re the ones who should be given exemption from aliens/global blizzards/invading British/gigantic apes/saber-tooth tigers/Armageddon.

Of course, the rich want exemptions, too, and in 2012 they do what they can to ride out the apocalypse on their Lear Jets and in their private government-funded bunkers. Well, so I hear. I haven’t actually seen the movie. But that doesn’t mean I can’t review it.

But I’m willing to bet those wealthy sons of bitches don’t make it: probably once they’re all in a room, the room explodes. Or maybe it’s a more insidious death: tongues of fire that actually consume instead of just creating a second Pentecost? Who knows? Who cares?

John Cusack cares. Well, not about the rich people. He cares about the survival of his family, which includes his kids, Spunky 1 and Spunky 2. Now, maybe they’re not both his children: no disaster movie is complete without an adopted member, orphaned via catastrophe. Then again, maybe they are: the spawn of his sad-sack loins, the future of the human race, the continuation of the patrilineal line. Amanda Peet, his wife—she also cares. Not having seen the film, I’m not sure if she makes it or not. Maybe they’re divorced and they reconcile as the world burns around them. Yeah, I’ll bet that’s it.

Chiwetel Ejiofor cares. I think he’s the Cassandra: the voice of doom that no one heeds. He’s also a phenomenal actor, and I hope he made a lot of money doing this film so that he can afford to be in the Dollhouse webisode third season. (No, there is no talk of a web-only third season of Dollhouse. The rumor starts here!)

Roland Emmerich cares. Not about the death of nearly 7 billion people. He cares about blowin’ stuff up. He cares about box-office draw. And he cares about special effects.

And wow! Are they incredible or what? I never get sick of watching the continents crumble into the ocean, cities torn asunder by earthquakes, the South Pole extending to the upper Midwest, the Hollywood sign falling down…I wonder if they showed a shot of New Orleans drowning under the rising Gulf? No? Too soon? I certainly hope so. I do know that they show southeast Asia engulfed by a tsunami. I guess it’s not too soon when it’s not America.

Roland Emmerich movies have taught me much about this world. Without Jon Cusack/Dennis Quaid/Mel Gibson/Will Smith/Kurt Russell, the human race would collapse under its own global warming/global freezing/desire to tax tea and stamps/alien invasion/military injustice in the face of an interstellar civilization. Our modern heroes must possess only one useful skill (such as knowing how to fly/knowing a lot about weather/being Australian/kickin’ alien butt/having sparkly blue eyes), a dark-ish secret, and a stubborn desire to take care of themselves and their family. Because without them, the world really would end.

We go to these movies because they’re big, they’re loud, and it’s fun to watch stuff blow up. We enjoy the heartfelt platitudes mouthed by the sacrificial leader. We enjoy the idea that we, too, will find love amidst the rubble. We enjoy the idea that it could be us up there, the Normal Joes and average gals, the last vestiges of civilization, the omega people, free from the burden of snarky waitresses, annoying co-workers, traffic, and finding affordable yet stylish boots.

We go because it’s mindless, because we know that if and when the world ends, it won’t happen to us. Or our spunky children. Maybe their children’s children, but we’ll be long gone by then. So we enjoy ourselves, we eat sugary snacks, we drink sugary drinks, we watch out sugary movie, and we’re reminded of what really matters. Sugary destruction.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Maybe I might have missed something, but to review something, you have to view it first. I think what you have here is a commentary on disaster movies.

    It is a lovely commentary, but it just is not a review.

  2. Beautiful review, Josie! However, I am appalled! How can your list of the saviors of the human race not include Jeff Goldblum? Without him we, computer programmers, wouldn't know that we can save the Earth too, by simply uploading a virus into a network of attacking alien ships. (Luckily all life forms in the universe use Windows on their computers, otherwise we'd be in trouble!)

    Jane: I believe you are right. You have missed something.

  3. Awesome review! I'm pretty sure that even though you didn't see it, you've got the gist of it... after all, the best parts are always in the trailers, right?

    That being said, as my friend noted: "2012" was about $10.50 overpriced. And I'm sorry, John Cusack just can't save the world the way Jeff Goldblum can.

  4. Of course it's just a commentary on disaster movies. :) It's an excellent commentary on disaster movies. (As Serena said, it's awesome, Josie.) Has anyone seen it yet? From the outside, it looks like wall-to-wall special effects surrounding a regurgitated plot. If it's not, we'll all beg the pardon of the movie gods.

  5. Josie, I actually saw "2012" yesterday and am glad you saved me the trouble of writing a review. I don't know why but I was delusional enough to expect that when dealing with the "who lives & who dies" of the characters in this movie, that there would be a surprise. Nope. They went with every cliche and killed off the characters you would expect to see die.

    The narrow escapes that Cusack and family faced, were so comically fake that they were totally devoid of suspense. Had they eased up on the billion foot tall tidal waves or the oddly slow moving earthquakes, there might have been some real sense of danger.

    Quite frankly the only time I took this movie seriously was when Chiwetel Ejiofor has a heartfelt talk with his father.

    You are better off watching the last 30 minutes of the BSG finale than watching this movie. Its too outlandish even for a disaster movie, especially compared to a pretty decent and slightly more realistic one like "Deep Impact."

  6. I wasn't trying to be some sort of wise ass. Just stated my opinion, as I said I thought Josie had a lovely commentary. I enjoyed reading it.

  7. That's cool, Jane -- we get it. We may be a little bit touchy because we've been getting spammed this week. :)

  8. Hilarious, Josie! (And you're so so right about the tsunami.)

  9. I'm not against action/popcorn/end of the world movies - in fact, I still love "Independence Day." BUT, I have to say, from the trailers, the special effects for 2012 looked really fake. With technology these days, I shouldn't be able to see the layers between the actors and the exploding world. Or maybe because we know how it's done now.

    Regardless. I wonder what a shrink would have to say about this director and his propensity for ending the world?

  10. Jane: Thank you!

    Serena: I noticed that too, and thought that maybe it was my TV that made the special effects look cheap. But now that I actually verbalize that idea, I realize how stupid it sounds. (Hangs head in shame, stumbles away.)

  11. In these financially challenged times, you have to be grateful for Josie's reminder as to why we don't need to spend our hard earned cash no matter how many ads for this film keep getting thrown at us...

  12. I wish I could say thet Emmerich was trying to speak to the human condition and had lofty goals, but I've seen more human connection onscreen in Transporter 2 than this. With a little bit of tweaking I think it could have been elevated to decent.

    Also something I realized today, they mention that the arks were funded by selling tickets to billionaires....but the premise of this movie is that only a handful of people know about the impending disaster...so why wouldn't governments just do what they do best, borrow the money...its not like on 12-22-2012 a collection agency will start calling. :)

    I can only be so upset because I knew this would blow, but hang onto your money and see it at home, on cable. While you vacuum.

  13. I liked it. Sure every cliche, and I mean every one, was there. A noble President who sacrificed his life with his people, because America is so great. A dysfunctional father who becomes functional. A marriage broken repaired. A son who hates his father, but not really. The bloke who's married to the ex missus, who's death warrant is signed before the film begins. And mentioning the Pres again; not so noble when it appears he has sanctioned most of the evilness involved in selecting people for the arks.
    Yet still I enjoyed it. The effects are groundbreaking and it is all in all an entertaining film. It all happens in America of course, with the one British guy there sounding more posh than Ted Heath on speed. But still; its a scary film as well. Sure its fictional but we all wonder if 2012 is our judegment day. Definately re watchable if only for the effects. And despite being cliched beyond belief, the charactors were likeable.

  14. I finally saw this movie on DVD, and Josie, you were right on the mark. The destruction was so over the top (I'm searching and failing to come up with a descriptor that is toppier than over the top) that it was completely unbelievable; it made me laugh out loud, over and over again. Every character was a stereotype, the writers left no cliche unturned, there was no emotional resonance whatsoever, and the religious symbolism was ridiculously obvious. This movie is hugely bad. Dan gave it two stars. I'm going for one. And it's only getting one because I didn't fall asleep before the totally predictable ending.


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