Review for 2012 Blu-ray
I have a theory. You can take a film, doesn't matter how bad the script is, you add Denzel Washington and it immediately lifts it into being a watchable film. I'd like to extend that theory and include John Cusack in that. Sure, there are films he's been in that haven't been the best (America's Sweethearts comes to mind), but for some reason, Cusack makes the film watchable. Thankfully Roland Emmerich also agrees with this theory and put him in his latest 'End of the World' spectacular: 2012.
2012 is essentially a story about the end of the earth. No, there are no aliens about to destroy the planet; it's simply time for Noah to start carving out a new ark as it is the end of the world as we know it. The film follows a number of characters who all discover that the world is about to end and that there is nothing that we can do about it. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Dr Helmsley, a Scientist who discovers all of this and is shocked to discover that not only does the government know about it, but that they have already been planning on a backup plan. John Cusack stars as Jackson who is a failed writer, going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that he rescues his children, ex-wife and her new boyfriend who thankfully knows how to fly a plane as this comes in very useful at various points in this film. Of course the President has to get in on the action and is ably played by Danny Glover doing his best Obama or Morgan Freeman impression and is actually pretty convincing as the final President of the USA. The film weaves in and out of these stories, focusing mainly on Jackson who it seems is the luckiest man alive.
I got to give him credit; Roland Emmerich certainly knows how to create an epic movie as the scope of this film is immense and casts a shadow on everything he's done before. Despite this being almost a carbon cut out of every film he has ever made, I have to say I really enjoyed the way this film was constructed. The set pieces and scenes of major cities, major land marks crumbling is just amazing to see and watching these characters react to this chaos you have to wonder what would happen if all of a sudden Obama showed up on TV and just stated it was the end of the world. The mystery surrounding the Mayan prediction of the end of the world is not looked at in as great detail as I would have hoped, but I guess if the film became too bogged down with this it would probably become preachy and ultimately boring. The acting by Cusack, Glover and Ejiofor is wonderfully supported by Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt and a perfect cameo by Woody Harrelson that is worth watching the film for alone.
The extras seem to be divided between looking at the film and looking at the 2012 phenomenon. Designing the end of the earth really looks in-depth into the technical creation of all the effect, Roland Emmerich: Master of the Modern Epic looks into the director and how he has been able to make a living out of destroying the Earth. Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar, Science Behind the Destruction and The End of the World: The Actor's Perspective look into the 2012 phenomenon and try to explain exactly what could happen and why this film could possibly by a very grim prediction of the end of the world. All these documentaries only take up an hour of time and I wish there had been a more definitive 'Making of' looking into all aspects of the creation, rather than just please the technical achievements of the film or fan the interest in the myths surrounding the concept. Instead of this we have Roland's Vision which is a Picture in Picture feature. This is pretty good, though I do find this a bit distracting as it seems to just randomly pop in and out and it would be better if this was incorporated into the commentary or maybe allowed to watch the interviews and segments away from the film like The Dark Knight did. Watching the less than five minutes of deleted scenes and the alternate ending makes you wonder why they included them as they certainly added nothing to the film. The commentary by Emmerich and co-writer Harold Kloser is great and even if I'm a little sceptical about what they say, it certainly sounds like they enjoyed making the movie.
2012 is possibly the best film that Roland Emmerich has made and though we could argue about its originality or the fact he just come short of Michael Bay in 'effects for effects sake', but he is able to use all the tricks in his box that he has learnt over the years and craft a well rounded film. It's not a film that you'll be watching again and again, but it's certainly a film worth watching.