2012 – You know what this one’s about. It’s the one where the world ends.
But how? Well, in 2009, deputy geologist Dr Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) finds out from his friend in India, Dr. Satnam Tsurutani (Jimi Mistry), that solar flares are causing the Earth’s core to boil up and he brings it to the President’s attention. At the same time, little-known author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) takes his kids camping in Yellowstone Park, but as he’s long since separated from his missus, Kate (Amanda Peet), he’s clearly ostracised by his kids for not having much to do with them. In fact, they have much more respect for their mum’s new boyfriend, Gordon (Thomas McCarthy, who I’d only seen as reporter and total nob Scott Templeton in the final season of The Wire). Naturally, jilted Jackson thinks Gordon is a moron….
Helmsley and Curtis meet by chance when Curtis and his kids wander into a now-restricted area in the aforementioned park, and the former just happens to be a big fan of the latter’s work. Also thrown into the mix is the President (Danny Glover), his daughter, Laura (Thandie Newton, playing this role as an absolute wet lettuce) and there’s also Oliver Platt as arrogant Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser. Also, Woody Harrelson is wonderfully nutty as the beardy-weirdy conspiracy theorist hick Charlie Frost, a hobo in the Yellowstone restricted area, so far undetected by the powers that be. He runs his own bizarre phone-in show and seems to know far more about what’s going on than most people, and that’s not just the fact that the reason for the world being about to fall apart is that the Earth’s crust is destablising and displacing as a result of the solar flare.
There’s occasional scenes set in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before we get to the year in question, but since the world’s meant to end on December 21st 2012, it would be nice to have a timeframe throughout that year, so we’re just guessing how close we are to that time. For those baulking at the overlong running time, although there are the occasional teasers of problems to come in the story-building, it all starts to get mental after a mere 40 minutes, so with 2 hours still to go that’s plenty of SFX entertainment for even the adrenaline junkie. And there’s even a nice reference to the ‘bigger boat’ line in Jaws, too.
However, it does lay on the sentimentality with a trowel the size of Wales and, naturally, I could pick a million holes in the plot and the events depicted which, to do so, would give away spoilers, but you’ll spot them all as you watch anyway.
The final question is – now Roland Emmerich has ended the world, just where can his special FX movies go next?
The film is presented in its original 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio and is highly-detailed with no problems. In a way it makes me wish I’d actually gone to see this one on the big screen, although for such a long film, and with 30 mins of ads in front of it – in the average cinema, I really couldn’t arsed with that. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
The sound is in DTS-HD MA 5.1, although I only had access to it in DTS 5.1, and is exactly as you’d expect. The world is ending! Expect noise, destruction and chaos throughout!
The extras are as follows, but they’re not all great:
- Designing the End of the World (26:03): With chat from key cast and crew members, this is a fascinating look at which aspects of the design of the film would need physical set-pieces or visual effects.
- Roland Emmerich: Master of the Modern Epic (9:31): A featurette about the man who has destroyed the world many times over.
- The End of the World: The Actor’s Perspective (7:34): The featurettes are getting shorter and shorter and this one is a collection of soundbites from the actors alongside B-roll footage as the answer the question about what they’d do if the world was ending. There’s not a great deal to see here.
- Science Behind the Destruction (13:19): A longer piece, this one featuring the director and various pontificators talking about how to make the end of the world look natural along with all the scientific thoughts about how it might work out.
- Deleted/extended Scenes (4:55): Only five and all very brief. Nothing really to warrant putting back in.
- Alternate Ending (3:39): Hey, the world doesn’t end at all and Mars gets the hit instead! …Only kidding.
- Interactive Mayan Calendar: Some info, plus a short film about the Mysteries of the Mayan calendar (3:53), a Mayan Personality Profile to which you input your date of birth and it tells you some nonsense about the kind of person you are, and a Mayan Horoscope. I input 21st December 2012 into the latter, and it talked of a great fear coming. Hmm…
I tried another date coming much more soon to when I wrote this review and it sounds like it’s as random as a fortune cookie.
- Audio commentary: with writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser.
- Picture-in-picture: Roland’s vision: Pre-visualisation storyboards, plus further behind-the-scenes info and interview snippets during the film.
- BD Live: Connect your Blu-ray player to the internet and it sounds like you’ll be able to get info the IMDB page for this film. I’ve never got my player to go online properly before, so I’ll just visit IMDB anyway.
- Play the film with Movie IQ: Another BD Live feature. This is online info for people who don’t have a computer in the same room while watching the film and a desperate need to answer a query right there and then.
The menu features scenes from the film mixed together with ‘end of the world’-type incidental music. There are English subtitles plus Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Hindi, Norwegian and Swedish. Commentary is also available in English, French and Dutch. However, the film’s chaptering is completely ridiculous with Sony’s strict (judging by all their recent releases) 16-only policy, as the film runs for over 2½ hours! Come on, Sony, you’re not paying by the chapter(!)
Running time: 158 minutes
Cat no: SBR60620
Released: March 2010
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English and 8 other languages
Widescreen: 2.40:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Roland Emmerich
Producers: Roland Emmerich, Larry J Franco and Harald Kloser
Screenplay: Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser
Music: Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander
Jackson Curtis: John Cusack
Kate Curtis: Amanda Peet
Adrian Helmsley: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Laura Wilson: Thandie Newton
Carl Anheuser: Oliver Platt
Gordon Silberman: Tom McCarthy
Charlie Frost: Woody Harrelson
President Thomas Wilson: Danny Glover
Noah Curtis: Liam James
Lilly Curtis: Morgan Lily
Yuri Karpov: Zlatko Buric
Tamara: Beatrice Rosen
Alec: Alexandre Haussmann
Oleg: Philippe Haussmann
Sasha: Johann Urb
Professor West: John Billingsley
Harry Helmsley: Blu Mankuma
Tony Delgatto: George Segal
Captain Michaels: Stephen McHattie
Dr. Satnam Tsurutani: Jimi Mistry
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.