2012 (12A)

Roland Emmerich, 158 mins
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The Independent Culture

Following on from Harry Brown, 2012 is a similarly balanced and thoughtful piece of work. It's directed by Roland Emmerich, the maker of Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, and it must have come about when Emmerich looked back at his oeuvre and decided that it was all a bit too subtle.

Where once he was content to nuke a landmark here and there, now he brings us global earthquakes caused by rare solar eruptions ("That's impossible," exclaims top science person, Chiwetel Ejiofor). In the opening minutes, the customary black President (Danny Glover) informs his fellow G8 leaders that: "The world as you know it will soon come to an end."

At least Emmerich isn't holding back. 2012 is an unremittingly frantic, noisy uber-disaster movie that boasts a big running time, bigger product placements, and clichés that are bigger still. The biggest component of all, naturally, is devastation, so if you want to see whole cities toppling like Jenga towers, then you'll get your money's worth. Bear in mind, though, that those cities are all computer-generated, and while they're computer-generated very skilfully, they still don't have the weight of even the flimsiest plywood scenery. Again and again we watch John Cusack drive his family away from destruction, either in a limo, a camper van, or one of two different planes, but we're never the slightest bit concerned. Not only do we know that he will get everyone to safety, but also that he'll get there in a manner that doesn't have to acknowledge the laws of physics.

Maybe a computer was also used to translate the screenplay, written by a German and an Austrian, into something akin to English. Why else would there be news reports of "this deadly car explosion", and "millions of distraught masses"?