2012 is a disaster [movie]!

Roland Emmerich, the director and writer of apocalyptic movies such as “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” is back to his old tricks in delivering the beginning of the end of the world in his latest movie “2012.” This film is the epitome of an apocalypse, destroying everything in sight -- including its ability to be taken seriously.

In all fairness though, “2012” has everything you could ever want from a movie: family dysfunction contrasting with the solidarity of the human race, incompetent government agencies, a crazed conspiracy theorist who lives in his R.V. (his sole purpose is comic relief) and, of course, an ominous red digital clock counting down the seconds before the utter destruction of humanity. Although this movie has an abundance of entertaining themes, “2012” lacks the fundamental element necessary to even make a movie: a plot.

The story seems to wander aimlessly for about the first half of the movie. After a brilliant and dazzling tour of the planets (reminiscent to the opening of the 1968 classic “2001: The Space Odyssey”), the audience is brought back down to planet earth. Bouncing from laboratories to government briefings from all corners of the world the audience finds that the earth is about to be destroyed, but that is not really troublesome; it’s a movie about an apocalypse after all. The real trouble is no one, not the audience anyway, really knows why.

The real reason for the imminent destruction of humanity is lost between the alignments of the planets, the unusual explosions on the sun, the earth’s core heating up and the idea that the world needs to be destroyed because people on the earth need more excitement in their lives. An audience member must have a doctorate in astrophysics with a master’s degree in intuition in order to uncover the real reason the planet is about to be destroyed. Apparently, the writers of this movie think that the cause of these destructive events isn’t as important as the events themselves: most of California sinks into the Pacific Ocean, Yellowstone National Park explodes like an enormous pimple, volcanic ash falls on Washington D.C. like a snowstorm right before a giant tsunami wipes out all of the U.S. east coast.

Right before these disasters happen, the audience meets John Cusack’s character Jackson Curtis, a divorced failed author and father of two children who serve no purpose other than to be in perilous situations that toy with the audience’s emotions. Amanda Peet plays Kate Curtis, Jackson’s ex-wife, who lives with Thomas McCarthy’s character Gordon Silberman, a plastic surgeon. Somewhere between minor earthquakes that leave enormous gashes in the ground to a debate on breast augmentation, these characters also discover that the end of the world is near.

After this earth-shattering discovery (pun intended) the audience goes through an all you can eat buffet of action, thrills and chills which mirrors a trip to the Universal Studios’ Backlot, but without the thrills and chills part. This apathy is not caused by a shortage of special effects but rather the failure to answer the question “why should I care?” Be prepared to check the laws of physics at the door when watching these scenes, concepts like running abreast of an airplane about to take off and being able to stand up after an enormous blast wave turns everything around a character into ashes and splinters.

Halfway through this movie, the potential for a plot forms: everyone must get to China where the government is building some “ships” to save humanity. Other huge conveniences fall into place such as an enormous C-130 cargo plane stocked full of sports cars. Really? Sports cars? Whether you’re driving a Porsche or a Soccer-Mom van, the odds of you driving off a still moving airplane and surviving are still the same. But you’ll look so much cooler if you’re driving a sports car, so I guess that’s okay.

Comic relief and emotional drama are used interchangeably in this film giving “2012” a sort of self-parody thanks to the characters Yuri Karpov (Zlato Buric), a Russian boxer and businessman who sounds like Marlon Brando’s Godfather (only worse) and his girlfriend Tamara (Beatrice Rosen), a Paris Hilton impersonator in her early to mid 20’s. Yes, there is a two pound Chihuahua in designer clothes that Tamara is more interested in saving than anyone else. Such characters are faulty in substance and are often taken out with when they are not needed for comic relief and then brought back when they are.

Somewhere between being almost swallowed up in a massive Las Vegas crevice and almost crashing into Mt. Everest, “2012” attempts to redeem itself as a movie worthy of deeper intellectual thought. They do this by employing certain “feel good” themes like human solidarity and defying orders in order to save innocent souls from certain death. However, although these themes are good in principle and add substance to a missing plot, the stupidity of the film’s meshing of comedy and drama kill these ideas before they can reach any meaningful maturity. Plus, because of a Paris Hilton impersonator in this movie, the word “maturity” cannot be used in any way, shape or form to describe this film.

The “2012” themes, visual effects and concepts have been done many times over in other, better movies including the ones written and directed by Roland Emmerich. Perhaps “2012” should have been called “The Day After The Day After Tomorrow” because of its similarities to Emmerich’s 2004 movie.

All things considered, however, “2012” is still worth the money due to its special effects. It is good for a bunch of laughs in situations that aren’t intended to be funny but are because of how this movie was made. On the other hand, the deeper thought and emotional drama that this film strives to hit, misses its mark horribly. You were warned.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.