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Vol. LXIII, No. 46
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WILL HE MAKE IT?: Little read author Jackson Curtiss (John Cusack), whose book “Farewell Atlantic” prophesied the end of the world on December 21, 2012, runs to catch the plane that he arranged to take him and his family to a safe place until the prophesied disasters have run their course.

2012: Roland Emmerich Releases Another Apocalyptic Adventure

Kam Williams

Roland Emmerich’s name is associated with apocalyptic adventures such as Independence Day (1996) and The Day after Tomorrow (2004). Regrettably, the director’s latest film, 2012, fails to measure up to his earlier movies, despite his trademark special effects which are financed with a 250 million dollar budget.

Stripped of its pretense, the picture is essentially a stock disaster film with trite dialogue that recycles many of the genre’s groan-inducing scenes which have become clichés. On top of that, the production has frame after frame of blatant prominent ad placements, shamelessly hawking Fruit Loops, Jack Daniels, Rice Krispies, Sony, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Marriott Hotels, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Bentleys, Caesar’s Palace, Sugar Frosted Flakes, and Kellogg’s All Bran.

The commercials are a minor annoyance compared to the plot that seems to be aimed at grade school children. The story was inspired by a Mayan prophesy that predicts that the world will end on December 21st during the winter solstice of 2012.

At the point of departure in 2009, we’re introduced to Jackson Curtiss (John Cusack) the little known author of Farewell Atlantic, a book which forecasts the impending global crisis. However, in the film, Jackson is not the only person aware of the coming catastrophe.

For example, Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson) is a burnt-out hippie who is broadcasting dire warnings from a makeshift radio station in an RV parked atop a mountain in Yellowstone National Park. Although his broadcasts are being dismissed as the unsubstantiated rants of the lunatic fringe, there are plenty of scientists and politicians who are secretly taking the problem seriously.

For instance, Dr. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) descends 11,000 feet below sea level in an abandoned copper mine where he discovers that “the Earth’s crust is destabilizing.” Soon after he urgently reports this information to President Wilson (Danny Glover), bizarre events occur that signal the coming of Armageddon, such as earthquakes that cause tsunamis and mass suicides in Guatemala. President Wilson somberly informs his staff that, “The world as we know it, will soon come to an end,” while continuing to hide the truth from the general public.

Jackson Curtiss jumps into action by rounding up his children (Liam James and Morgan Lily) and his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) in order to save them from the impending disasters. With the help of his ex-wife’s amateur pilot boyfriend (Tom McCarthy) they fly off in the nick of time as the runway crumbles beneath the wheels of their airplane.

No hackneyed line proves too stale for these intrepid survivors as they take on one death-defying challenge after another. Brace yourself for inane declarations that are pronounced against the backdrop of pyrotechnics and explosions. There are exclamations such as “Don’t look back!” “It’s a brave new world!” “Life isn’t fair!” “Are you kidding me?” “Hit the deck!” and even (and I am not making this up) “Hold hands and sing Kumbaya.”

Among the supporting cast of A-list actors, whose talents are squandered in subplots, are Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, and George Segal.

Poor (0 stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity and intense disaster sequences. Running time: 158 minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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