Probably the first disaster movie I ever saw was Earthquake in the theaters, in ‘sense-around.’ If you don’t know what ‘sense-around’ is, allow me to explain. It was this short lived cinema novelty in the 70s (hot on the heels of the 3-D fad) in which a huge hulking machine set up in the middle of the rows of seats actually SHOOK the entire theater during key moments of action movies. Naturally, a novelty such as this added a tiny bit of excitement to an otherwise ‘disaster’ of a movie.
Nowadays, we have Surround Sound and CGI to make everything better. But it really doesn’t. Not when Hollywood puts out a movie like 2012. Next time you snicker at one of my reviews about one of my favorite low budget piece of crap horror movies, go watch 2012 and then apologize to me for doubting my taste in movies.
This has to be the biggest disaster I’ve seen since Twister ,the classic in which a group of thrillseekers races across country to get into the eye of a twister, where they scream and cry hysterically for God to save them as they face death head on—and then jump back into their truck to chase the wrath of the twister all over again once it passes. If you thought that was the biggest disaster of a film ever, then you haven’t seen 2012.
I watched this near three hour movie on cable tonight—well, actually, I watched the first hour before I discovered that the movie had another two hours to go, at which point I essentially checked out and began playing on my computer with the movie playing in the background. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with this one. It’s pretty much every cliché from every disaster film all rolled into one—Poseidon, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact... And, it’s family friendly! Yes, this one is loaded with hokey slapstick comic moments—including an awesome ‘crazy apocalypse theorist’ performance by Woody Harrelson (too bad he doesn’t heed his own advice so he could have kept us entertained for the entire movie). But the funniest thing about this film is that John Cusack thought that Better Off Dead made him look like a fool and believes that now he’s a serious actor…
I’d have to say that if Hollywood keeps pumping out derivative disasters like this, the world really will end in 2012. We have the fractured family, including John Cusack, his ex-wife, his angry son with abandonment issues, his cute little daughter with pig tails, and tension with the geeky stepfather . There’s a black president, an evil Russian leader who cares only about himself, a little dog whose welfare is supposed to concern us more than that of any human in the movie, and the disintegrating planet earth that seems more intent on hot pursuit vengeance than the shark in Jaws: The Revenge. 2012…this time, it’s personal! You have to see it to believe it as the Cusack family out drive, fly, swim, run, and jump Mother Nature as she follows them relentlessly, shooting lava balls, bringing down buildings, causing tidal waves, sinking the earth…. I’m all for mindless rollercoaster ride action, but what’s the point of such over-the-top visual spectacles if you spend the whole time blinded by tears of laughter??? I kept looking around, embarrassed to be watching this film, and heaved a sigh of relief each time I discovered that I was alone in my living room and not in a theater with witnesses. Yet I was still embarrassed.
I also felt like I was watching one long 3-hour video game cut scene. You don’t know how many times I reached for a Wii controller to try to steer that plane between two colliding buildings or drive that car over a grand canyon sized crevasse forming in the earth. There were so many cars, people, buses, trains, planes, boats, water and balls of fire flying across screen at all times that I just couldn’t understand how an ordinary family like the Cusack’s could live to tell about it. But do they all live to tell about it? Will we get our happy ending—the real Cusack family healing emotionally and coming out physically unscathed in the face of all this devastating adversity while the intrusive stepdad gets sucked into a CGI abyss? Well, this is a Hollywood ‘family’ movie, so what do you think?