2012 is the great-grandchild of Seventies disaster movies such as EARTHQUAKE and THE TOWERING INFERNO. The formula is the same: take a group of characters with soap-operatic back-stories and plunk them down in the middle of death and devastation. But like its cousins THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and the remake of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, 2012 indulges in such overkill that it makes those Seventies movies look positively dignified and restrained.
I remember reading when this movie came out about how ridiculous all the so-called science in it is. I don’t require absolute scientific accuracy in a movie in order to enjoy it, though. As a good friend who writes science fiction once said to me, “Who do I look like to you? Mr. Wizard?” Just tell me a good story. My disbelief suspends very easily.
Unfortunately, the personal stories in 2012 rely on such a wild string of coincidences that the “Oh, come on!” factor in this movie is pretty high. At the same time, there’s a very by-the-numbers feel to it. As each character is introduced, you can play the “survives/doesn’t survive” game and probably get all of them right.
Which is not to say that the movie is completely without entertainment value. Them special effects is amazin’. And let’s face it, you can’t make a movie about the violent destruction of most of the world without coming up with a few powerful scenes. I had a catch in my throat a few times.
In many ways, 2012 is a remake of INDEPENDENCE DAY (made by the same folks), with natural disasters substituted for alien invasion. I sort of liked INDEPENDENCE DAY. It’s a much more hopeful film. 2012 is watchable, but unless you really, really like special effects, I’d advise you not to get in any big hurry to rent it.