Release Date: November 13th, 2009
Click here for the 2012 Trailer.
In the year 2009, Adrian Helmsley(Chiwetel Ejiofor), an American geologist, and his friend Dr. Satnam Tsurutani(Jimi Mistry) meet in India where Satnam has discovered that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are "cooking" the Earth's core causing the temperature in the core to rise at a rapid pace. Helmsley immediately goes to Washington to inform Chief of staff Carl Anheuser(Oliver Platt) and US President Thomas Wilson(Danny Glover) that these solar flares will begin a catastrophic chain of natural disasters. In 2010 at the G8 summit, President Wilson informs other world leaders about the foretold events and the leaders begin work on constructing giant arks in the Himalayas to ensure the survival of 400,000 pre-chosen people.
Jackson Curtis(John Cusack) is a struggling writer who lives in L.A. and works part time as a limo driver for Yuri Karpov(Zlatko Buric), a wealthy Russian businessman. Jackson decides to take his kids, Noah and Lily, on a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. When they arrive at the park, they discover a government fence with a "No Trespassing" sign on it. Jackson decides to hop the fence anyways and travel to a nearby lake. When the three of them arrive, they find out that the lake is gone. As soon as they enter the empty lake, government officials lead by Helmsley arrive and apprehend Jackson and his children. Jackson inquires about the lake to Helmsley who reveals that they are trying to figure that out as well. Helmsley recognizes Jackson from a book he wrote and lets him and his children go.
While at their campsite that night, Jackson is approached by Charlie Frost(Woody Harrelson), a conspiracy theorist living as a hermit in the park and broadcasting a conspiracy theory radio show from his Winnebago. Charlie tells Jackson of the impending destruction of the planet and about a secret "space ship" project the government is running and that he has a map to their location. Back in L.A. massive cracks form along the San Andreas Fault, one of which almost kills Jackson's ex-wife Kate(Amanda Peet) and her plastic surgeon boyfriend Gordon(Thomas McCarthy). Jackson returns his children home and then rushes to pick up Yuri's two boys who tell Jackson that they are going to take a ride on a special ship and that they will live but he will die. Upon hearing this, Jackson rents a plane for him and his family and rushes back to L.A. to get them.
As soon as Jackson arrives earthquakes begin to occur and whole sections of the ground begin to cave in. Jackson races across the crumbling streets of the city and arrives at the airport, narrowly escaping death more than once. The group arrives to find the pilot dead but Kate reveals that Gordon is a pilot and the group takes off and heads to Yellowstone to retrieve Charlie's map. Jackson finds Charlie who is atop a mountain, preparing to broadcast the eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera. Jackson takes Charlie's Winnebago and drives back to the plane as the Caldera erupts. As the Winnebago falls into a crater on the runway, Gordon takes off, believing Jackson to be dead. Before the plane can leave, Jackson emerges from the crater with the map and makes it onto the plane and the group heads to Las Vegas. Jackson discovers that the ships being built are in China. While in Las Vegas, Jackson runs into Yuri, his two boys, his girlfriend Tamara(Beatrice Rosen) and his pilot Sasha(Johann Urb). Sasha finds an Russian Antonov An-225 but needs a co-pilot to fly it. Jackson volunteers a reluctant Gordon and the 10 of them board the plane and take off as Las Vegas is destroyed in a giant dust cloud.
The group heads to China in search of the ships. Also en route to China via Air Force One is Anheuser, Helmsley, and the First Daughter Laura Wilson(Thandie Newton). President Wilson elected to stay behind at the White House to give the remaining American people comfort in their last moments. While helping with the wounded outside of the White House, President Wilson is killed by a giant tsunami that hurls the USS John F. Kennedy into the White House. With the death of the president and vice president and the disappearance of the Speaker of the House, Anheuser appoints himself as acting President. Arriving over China Sasha is forced to make a crash landing that costs him his life as the others escape in on of Yuri's luxury cars. The group flags down a Chinese helicopter which transports Yuri and his boys to the ships, being as they are the only ones with passes, leaving Jackson and the others stranded. Kate is able to flag down Nima(Osric Chau), a Buddhist monk, and his grandparents who are driving to meet Nima's brother Tenzin(Chin Han). Tenzin was the lead welder on the building project and he reluctantly agrees to sneak Jackson and the others into the ark via a hydraulic chamber.
While waiting to board everybody, Helmsley receives a call from his friend Satnam, whose promised airlift failed to arrive. Satnam reveals to Helmsley that an uncharted tsunami is about to engulf India and is headed to the location of the ships, cutting the impact time down to only 28 minuets. Anheuser orders the sealing of the ships, potentially trapping hundreds of thousands of people outside. Helmsley then takes command and convinces the G8 leaders to open the doors and let the people in. Yuri, who was trying to sneak under the gate, sees that it is being lowered and is trapped until the gate begins to raise. As he hurls his two sons onto the ship, Yuri falls to his death. While in the hydraulic area, Tenzin drops a large drill which becomes wedged in the gears, not allowing the door to close completely or the engines to start. As the group tries to escape the chamber, Gordon and Tenzin fall towards the gears. Tenzin is saved with an injured leg while Gordon is pulled in and killed. As the ship begins to fill with water, emergency fail safe doors begin to close, separating Lily, Tamara and the others. Lily is found by Helmsley who tries to contact Jackson as Tamara's atch fills wth water and she drowns.
Jackson, with help from his son Noah, is able to pry the drill loose allowing the doors to close and the engines to start up. The tsunami hits the ship sending it adrift and headed straight for the summit of Mount Everest. The engines are turned on just in time to prevent the fatal collision. After the flooding stops, satellite data reveals that instead of being flooded, Africa rose with the waters and the highest point on Earth is now the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu Natal and the three ships set sail for the Cape of Good Hope with the date residing as December 27th, 0001.
Another disaster movie from director Roland Emmerich, 2012 is loosely based off of the Mayan prediction of the end of the world. Emmerich is known for his disaster movies which include such blockbuster titles as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 is right up there with those two. Emmerich didn't short himself on celebrities to tag onto his movie grabbing big name stars like John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover.
Seeing this movie it is no surprise why it opened number one at the box office with an estimated $65 million on its first weekend in the US and $225 million worldwide. This movie is by all definitions a disaster movie. It focuses on huge earthquakes, exploding volcanoes, massive tsunamis and floods and the destruction of an entire planet which are all ingredients in a recipe for an edge-of-your-seat experience. Despite what the other critics say, I actually enjoyed this movie. I found it to be an exciting thriller that deals with some predictions that a lot of people actually believe in. While the movie didn't follow scientific realities to a T, we have to remember that its a movie, its fiction and its main purpose is for entertainment value. And this movie definitely entertains.
Going with a movie such as 2012, you know that a lot of its success is going to fall on how well you use CGI effects. Obviously you can not really destroy the world for a move, but you can make it look that way. Some movies, even recently, have had some very poor special effects. There is nothing more disappointing than watching a movie with tons of special effects and being drawn away from the experience due to poor visuals. If a movie delivers with the visuals it allows you to fully engross yourself in it, taking you out of reality for a while. That is what 2012 did for me with its visuals. The whole time I was glued to the screen, unable to take my eyes away.
I thought all the actors did well. Cusack performed in his first leading role since he did 1408 in 2007 and came out strong. I am a big fan of Oliver Platt and thought he did an excellent job in his role as well. Chiwetel Ejiofor had a moving performance and Danny Glover was also pretty powerful in his role also. Some of the supporting characters did better than others though. Zlatko Buric and Thomas McCarthy, I thought, did fantastic jobs in their supporting roles of Yuri and Gordon respectively. The small cameo by Woody Harrelson was entertaining. Harrelson is usually a funny actor and his small measure of comic relief was a nice touch in the otherwise intense movie.
Overall, I have an opposite opinion then most critics. I think 2012 was a great movie all around. The visuals were stunning, the action was intense and the story was unnerving enough to keep you hooked. Add that to the great cast and their performances and you have an all around good film. If you are a fan of Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow then you will definitely find something to like in this film.
I give 2012 9 Giant Arks out of 10
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