james debate
james debate

Thursday 10 December 2009

Directed by Roland Emmerich
Written by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton
Release date(s) Out Now
Running time 158 minutes

Roland Emmerich, the man who brought us the epitome of blockbuster spectacle in Independence Day, and tried to pull a similar doomsday scenario trick in Day after Tomorrow, to mixed success, brings us yet another hypothesis for how we're all going to die horribly, in 2012.

2012 film

This time, the focus of his fear mongering is the Mayan prophecies of how the world is going to end in 2012. Of course this is inaccurate as no Mayan has ever predicted the world ending in 2012, but rather the beginning of a new cycle, which was supposed to be a positive thing. But that's a discussion for another day, let's not detract from the money grubbing shisters who make a good living out of scaring ignorant middle American housewives.

Of course the bullshittiness of the concept put me off slightly, I mean really they might as well make "Dianetics: the Movie" next time, but in the end the important thing is whether Emmerich has pulled another engrossing blockbuster out of the hat that has produced nought but big screen gold in the past.

Unfortunately I think he has missed the mark this time. Emmerich received a good deal of criticism for Day after Tomorrow which was, in a word, a bit silly and extremely cavalier with regard to it's respect of the scientific grounding of his plot, not that the average movie going audience gives a fuck. But ultimately that was still an engaging and entertaining film. This however is something different.

Frankly it's stupid. And sure, I can see a lot of people saying "well hang on, this is just a mindless action flick, don't take it so seriously", well fuck you, you smug git. "Mindless fun" is a term that back in the day was applied to films like Independence Day and Armageddon, which frankly are like Shakespeare compared to this. Those films were silly and over the top, but they succeeded where most big action films fail because of strong character driven plots, a sense of moderate restraint, and clever writing filled with pithy observations on real life. This film has none of those things. The characters are thin and completely undeveloped, the action is so completely over the top that it looks somehow cheaper than it actually is, and the film is frankly far too long at three hours long, with about 20 minutes of dialogue and story in between all the ridiculous set pieces.

Again, I would like to clarify. These set pieces are not just ridiculous in the same way that most blockbusters feature over the top action, they are ridiculous in that they are actually retarded. They actually just look cartoony. It's over the top "over the top", it is to Independence Day what Hostel was to, say, Scream. And that is not a favourable comparison I make.

On the plus side, however, John Cusack does the best he can do with a weak script, and is innately likeable even when there is not much about his character to like (or dislike for that matter).

Ultimately however, I felt that this film was just a waste of three hours, and I wish I had gone to see A Serious Man instead. This film is worse than Transformers 2, and better than the Happening, which is not saying much.

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