2012: A Rocking, Rolling, High Flying Sci-fi Action Film From Roland Emmerich

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2012, the newest sci-fi action film from special effects virtuoso Roland Emmerich, recently previewed for the World Media at AMC Theaters in Midtown Manhattan following its Los Angeles World Premiere.

The storyline is based on the Mayan Calendar theory that predicts the end of civilization. Basically, an end-of-the-world scenario created by a structural implosion which facilitates the shifting of the earth’s axis due to a combination of astrological and seismological events that result in devastating natural disasters and phenomenon’s.  

Experts noted, after the recent Tsunami that decimated the entire costal area in the Indian Ocean that the magnitude of the quake shifted the earth’s axis by one degree.

The live action of 2012 begins in the same region. The year is 2009. 2012 is a twisting, turning, high flying, grab the edge of your seat, roller coaster, suspense, thrill ride that teases your intellect and tempts your imagination.

The main characters are introduced quickly as snapshot scenes of data, action and reaction by the G8 governments compile over the next three years, which initially seems like un-connecting pieces to a larger jigsaw puzzle, highlighting important information that does not appear to fuse together as all characters have a different opinion on the same world events.

The director’s choices portray people under extraordinary circumstances becoming extraordinary. Minor skills become major assets in times of disasters or tragedy and Emmerich skillfully weaves those elements into his characters as they are on a race for their lives against a backdrop of catastrophic disasters that have no pre-warning system.

John Cusack’s character, Jackson Curtis, moonlights as a limo driver to allow him-self the time to write his second great novel. His first, in limited release, was deemed “brilliant” by Adrian Helmsley, the US President’s chief scientist, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. The two meet, serendipitously, when Cusack is detained by the US Army after trespassing in Yellowstone National Park with his children on a family camping trip and stumbles onto a well kept government secret.

During this camping trip Cusack is approached by Charlie Frost, a backwoods, bible preaching doomsday prophet that oddly enough has eyes of understanding and has watched the “signs of the times.” Frost is personified by Woody Harrelson whose performance is flawless. Frost’s lifestyle has clear biblical reference of the end times Elijah. He and Cusack talk over beer during which the end times prophecy is explained and although Frost’s ways seem odd they’re oddly interesting and become the lifeline for Curtis and his family.

Amanda Peet, is the former wife, Kate, of Cusack’s Curtis, and has moved up from the long suffering wife of an angst filled writer to the girlfriend of a plastic surgeon. The flame still burns for Cusack as the entire family race against the unpredictability of natural disasters to safety. Peet made excellent choices that resulted in great moments throughout the film and especially as the end is near and decisions are necessary.

The exceptionally gifted Emmerich added special human glimpses, peek moments, into the soul of mankind as he developed, with authenticity, emotional depth by reveling how specific people groups would respond to cataclysmic disasters. He creates a final scene with a Buddhist Monk watching death approach and instead of giving into emotions he selflessly sounds the alarm for all to prepare and ready themselves as the end, death, has arrived.  It was stunning in its solitude and magnitude.

This selflessness was a through line throughout the film and seen in Danny Glover’s portrayal of United States President Thomas Wilson. Glover portrayed a president that embodied the antithesis of political power and ambition as he is forced with decisions that test the depths of the soul, commitment to humanity and concern over the human condition.

On the flip side, Oliver Platt (Frost/Nixon) plays White House Chief-of-Staff, Carl Anheuser, a political gunner who does not have an emotional conflict over the plan necessary to ensure the continuation of government in its current and present structure or how the chosen few received their boarding pass. He does, however, break when the moment arrives and boarding begins.

Dealing with the finality of relationships gives way to scenes of genuine heartfelt emotion as all face the last few moments with their loved ones just as death shadows the door way. Again the biblical reference of The Rapture where one is taken and one left behind is clearly implied and stated.

As 2012 depicts the end of the civilization the body count is, of course, monumental and each character deals with death and the finality of relationships differently. The work, by all, in these scenes resonate with honest emotion, depth, range, skillful choices that equate to proverbs such as: There is no time like the present; time is precious; estrangements are pointless; and of the few relationships that matter make the choices in those relationships to treasure each moment.

It is impossible to separate oneself and simply watch the film for its special effects. The story line is very interesting and the special effects are spectacular and hold an actual place in almost every person’s perception of California as most believe that someday “the big one” will hit and the state will fall into the Pacific and Nevada will become Ocean front. Roland Emmerich gives his futuristic version of it here.

2012 also stars Thandie Newton, as the President’s daughter who by association is caught up in the cover-up and unwittingly plays a part in the global deception of mankind, Thomas McCarthy, as Gordon, Liam James and Morgan Lily as Cusack/Curtis Children.  Zlatko Buric, portray Yuri Karpov, the Russian Billionaire, his children, Alec and Oleg,  played Alexandre Haussmann and Philippe Haussan, and his mistress, Tamara played by Beatrice Rosen.  As they both deal with finality Blu Mankuma, gives a moving performance as Harry Helmsley, the father of White House geologist, Adrain Helmsely and George Segal provides an equally moving performance as Tony Delgatto, his longtime friend and Jazz buddy.

Maybe Emmerich was stating his vision of mankind, a selfless people who would give their life for their child, their people or their religion. The truest test of love, commitment and devotion is lying down of one’s life, the analogy of Christ seen through the eyes of man. Maybe; maybe not.

Roland Emmerich is a special effects genius and does not let down in this film. He gives the audience more movie for the money and with it has created a film that has it all; dazzling special effects; heartfelt emotion and heightened suspense. It’s a great film and a good time, the first time and very time.

Executive produced by Roland Emmerich, Ute Emmerich and Michael Wimer. 2012 is produced by Harald Kloser, Mark Gordon, Larry Franco; Co-producers are Volker Engel, Marc Weigart and Aaron Boyd. 2012 is written by Roland Emmerich and Herald Kloser.

2012 opens in theaters nationwide Friday, November 13, 2009.

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