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Movie/ Film Review: “2012” is a Perfect Disaster


Movie Review: “2012” is a Perfect Disaster

Director:          Roland Emmerich

Producers:       Harald Kloser, Mark Gordon and Larry J. Franco

Script writers: Harald Klose and Roland Emmerich

Starring:          John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson

Release:           November 13th, 2009

Language:       English

Budget:            $200 million

If a film critic awards four stars to a movie directed by Roland Emmerich, will the world come to an end? That’s a question the ancient Mayans never asked, but it’s the one facing me after the enormously satisfying, amazingly accomplished, reprehensible yet irresistible “2012”, the greatest achievement in Emmerich’s long, profitable career as a destroyer of the world.

Starting with the long-held misapprehension that the Mayan calendar picks “2012” as the date of humanity’s doom, Emmerich fleshes out that bit of pseudo history with some pseudo-science.

“2012” takes the disaster movie – once content simply to threaten the Earth with a comet, or blow up the White House – to its natural conclusion, the literal end of the world. Other movies have explosions; “2012” has an atom-bomb-size detonation that wipes Yellowstone off the map. Other movies have earthquakes; “2012” sends California sinking, in flames into the sea. Other movies kill thousands; “2012” kills zillions without breaking a sweat.

So what makes “2012” a four-star movie? It gets everything right. The actors are right: John Cusack as a protagonist, Amanda Peet as his wife, Chiwetel Ejiofor as a scientist. The story telling is right. You will never be bored. And the dialogue is right: a rich blend of wisecrack and cheese, with a few moist-eyed goodbyes sprinkled here and there for good measure. Most important, the special effects are so right. In fact, they are incredible. Emmerich is an expert of a panoramic disaster. Power lines snapping in an earthquake, sparks flashing like distant fireworks; Honolulu on fire; mournful giraffes in slings, air lifted by helicopters through the snowy Himalayas.

Is “2012” art? Absolutely not! It reminds us that cinema exists not only to mark art but also to expertly create sensation like no other medium. It is certainly the best movie of its kind ever made. This is the way the world ends: with a bang.

(Adapted from

The review was published in The Washington Post on Friday, November 13, 2009.

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