Movies

2012: Global Salvation Through Global Destruction

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 John Cusack stares in awe, wondering, "Is this movie really as bad as it looks?"

Judging by his string of disasterrific movies—Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and now 2012—director Roland Emmerich is a firm believer in global salvation through global destruction. Mankind, despite selfish and self-destructive impulses, is good, can be good, can come together in peace and harmony, at one with the planet that sustains it. All that needs to happen is for most of the Earth's population to be killed off first.

Still, Emmerich seems to further think, as long as we're going to destroy the world, we might as well do it in the most awesome and spectacular way possible, right? On that front, at least, 2012 more than delivers. Not content merely to be another Big, Dumb Blockbuster, it aims for something greater: to be the Biggest, the Dumbest, the Blockbusteriest.

And with its never-ending parade of glorious, ludicrous, and utterly improbable catastrophes, it more or less succeeds. 2012 is the sort of movie so aggressively hyperbolic and devoutly over-the-top that it makes traditional descriptive labels obsolete and thus requires the invention of whole new words. My suggestions? How about catastrophaganza—the subgenre to which 2012 (and most of Emmerich's oeuvre) belongs—and retardiculous—a combo word to describe its barfy blend of low-quality yucks; treacly, social-welfare obsessed melodrama; buzz-word-laden psuedo-scientific babble; and gleefully apocalyptic pyrotechnic spectacle.

Unfortunately (perhaps), that spectacle requires not only the cataclysmic collapse of most of civilization, but the untimely deaths of several billion people. Not that Emmerich seems to mind too much; he doses his destruction with a hefty shot of camp, as if the correct reaction to the loss of another couple hundred million lives is "holy molten lava, Batman!"

But maybe that's just his way of staying positive in the face of doom. After all, 2012 seems to express an earnest hope that, from the smoldering ashes of modern civilization, humanity will triumph, reforming and rebuilding itself into a fresh and functional egalitarian society. All faiths, all creeds, all people, and perhaps all of Hollywood's B-list mediocrities (the film's sprawling cast of expendables, including John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetal Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, and more, is big enough to fill an ark—which eventually it does) can work together to put aside their differences in a vast celebration of global, equal togetheriness. Well, almost all, anyway: In 2012, both the knowledge of the impending apocalypse and the planning for its survival is limited to the member countries of the G8. Sorry, South America and Africa.

Granted, that was probably just an oversight, for in 2012, you can always figure out who the evil characters are by their attitudes toward scarce resources. Bad guys always argue—or, more accurately, sneer—that limited time and resources sometimes require people to make difficult decisions about how to allocate what you have in order to survive. Good guys always speechify to the effect that even to acknowledge such choices causes us all to be a little less human. Moronic? Probably. On the other hand, maybe there's a certain logic to the sentiment given the inevitable trajectory of so many of the director's movies: Who needs to worry about scarce resources when the bulk of the world's population winds up dead?

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  1. You probably put more thought into analyzing the movie than ol’ Big Bang did making it, you know.

    I haven’t seen it, but I might get around to it. In 2013.

  2. At least you caught it at the mid-night movies. Had you seen ‘The Song Remains the Same” just one too many times? Or was that silly movie with Susan Sarandon? What’s it called again?

  3. > Bad guys always argue?or, more accurately,
    > sneer?that limited time and resources sometimes
    > require people to make difficult decisions about
    > how to allocate what you have in order to survive.

    The Death Panels are a right wing myth.

  4. Whoa, I have no idea what Peter is trying to say, but I will always pay for disaster movies, the bigger the better. Don’t go to the flix for political illumination. Go, page views!

    1. If you want a disaster movie with interesting political views, you might enjoy the 1943 Nazi version of Titanic.

      1. I’ll take Nazi propaganda over Celine Dion music anyday. Thanks for the link, Ted.

      2. It says the director was arrested, apparently because of the movie, and died in a National Socialist prison. Says Goebbels thought the sinking-ship theme hit too close to home in 1943.

        1. You can imagine what they did to the guy who made a movie about the Hindenburg. Glass catheters anyone?

          1. I’m down with that.

      3. I’ve seen it, and I enjoyed it. It’s a surprisingly good movie and only the closing title card really goes over the top. And we all know the Titanic had a heroic Aryan German first officer, right?

  5. Catastrophaganza needs an adjective.

    Annihilicious. Calamitrocious! Destructogasmic?

  6. WTF?!?!

    Do is see orange links on poster names indicating e-mail addresses?!?!?!

    1. I am so going to spam you now.

  7. Catastrophepalooza is my personal favorite.

  8. “retardiculous”
    Love it. Perfect term for ‘Independence Day’.

    With his experience with destruction and good guys speechifying, Emmerich could be the 2nd unit director when they finally make ‘Atlas Shrugged’.
    Replace ‘Nemesis’ with ‘socialism’ and you’re there.

  9. I would think you R?hmites would like “2012” because while religious structures are shown as being destroyed, all the religious structures from Islam are omitted from the destruction in the movie.

    The cowards at Hollywood are afwaid to show Muslim religious places being destroyed — as opposed to the Christian ones — because they’re afraid of the Muslims getting mad and pulling one of their destructive baby fits — like they did at those Danish cartoons.

    So much for the Commies at Hollywood speaking “truth to power.” More like speaking trepadation to Islam and love of Communism.

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.”

    The Stars and Stripes Forever Sousa/Horowitz

    The Star Spangled Banner

    1. Get a root! For goodness sake …

    2. UnderMoron, our Saturday isn’t complete without one of your idiotic complaints. Thanks for making the world seem right.

    3. Let’s connect the dots:

      Catholics have criticized both Emmerich and his movie as anti-Catholic.

      Then Underzog criticizes Emmerich and his movie.

      Catholics are all anti-Semitic Rohmites.

      Underzog has picked up on a Catholic talking point.

      Therefore, Underzog is an anti-Semite!

      1. But we knew that. Muslim-haters are all anti-semites. Didn’t you get the memo?

        Racist!

      2. And not only that the Jew hater is going after Hollywood. The only reason he supports the right wing in Israel is his hope that two Semitic peoples kill one another off.

        The name ‘underzog’ was never intended for irony now was it, you monster?

    4. I thought it was just because the vast majority of the audience wouldn’t recognise any major islamic religious sites?
      The vatican and Christ the Redeemer in Rio are much more widely known.

      1. Emmerich has stated, specifically, that his refusal to show the destruction of the kabbah was due to fear of getting a fatwa lowered on his ass.

        1. Did he destroy the Taj Mahal?

          1. The movie shows Muslims worshiping at Masjid al-Haram but its fate is left to the imagination. The only religious buildings shown being destroyed are St. Peter’s Basilica, an unnamed Tibetan lamasery, and the Bellagio.

            1. I am reminded that the Sistine Chapel (which is also shown being destroyed — the disintegrating ceiling splitting Adam from Jehovah) is not in St. Peter’s but a different building. Also, the big Christ the Redeemer near Rio collapses. Take that, God!

        2. When did he specifically state that?

          1. Trust the Guardian newspaper:

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/film…..2012-kaaba

            “Well, I wanted to do that [destroy Mecca], I have to admit,” Emmerich says. “But my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. … We have to all … in the Western world … think about this. You can actually … let … Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have … a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it’s just something which I kind of didn’t [think] was [an] important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out.”

            1. What’s with all the … in that quote? Try as I may, I can’t really think of anything that would fill those and still make sense.

    5. Isn’t it Saturday, isn’t that sabbath, isn’t using a computer considered work, and aren’t you not supposed to be doing that?

      Just tryin’ to keep you on your dharma…

  10. One more catastrogastic movie to see all the fancy schmancy cities of the world get creamed again is what the population needs man, I live secure in the knowledge that my crappy little city always gets spared the carnage http://www.canada.com/topics/t…..4353978c39

    God (like Hollywood) won’t notice us either when the big global smasheroo comes

  11. John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetal Ejiofor, Thandie Newton…

    What, no Harvey Fierstein?

    1. perhaps you’re onto something lets send a letter to Emmerich with a list of actors we’ like to see killed off in especially crueltastic manners

      hmmm who first?

      1. They could never make a disaster movie about the destruction of Hollywood. That would be a contradition in terms.

        1. it would also be very dull.
          As irritating as actors and direcotrs are when they talk about politics I would imagine if there was money in it they would make a film about anything.

          1. Actually, the contradiction in terms arises from the fact that the destruction of Hollywood could in no way be considered a disaster.

        2. My fantasy horror movie is a mash up of Saw and Gray’s Anatomy. Only a few reality shows match GA in the wretchedness of the cast and dialog.

        3. 1941?

      2. hmmm who first?

        Roland Emmerich? Michael Bay? Oh please please please

      3. Harvey Fierstein, again and again.

  12. iowahawk – I think you mean “that would be a redundancy”

    I like retardiculous, either to describe Emmerich’s movies, or Underzoggy’s posts, but catastrophaganza is just a little too clunky for me.

    1. Catastrophroganzaliciousness?

      1. Nice and succinct.

        1. Supercatastrophaggedon

          1. It’s a fail if your mind’s eye can’t pronounce it.

          2. Did you just call someone a fag?

  13. iowahawk – please disregard my comment, I haven’t had my coffee yet.

    Instead of catastrophaganza, how about armageddapalooza?

    Also, is it just me, or does Cusack look a little like Eric Idle in that photo?

  14. Everybody spit on Underzog!

    1. hauck to ——- *

  15. Since when is John Cusack B-list?

    1. since seredipity?

      1. There was probably a short time during the production of High Fidelity when John Cusack could have gotten into some clubs with Jack Black. I wonder if Joan Cusack got promoted to B-list during that period.

  16. it makes traditional descriptive labels obsolete

    The BBC reviewer called it “disaster porn”. I thought that was pretty good.

    1. Problem is, there’s already a porn niche that features people having sex on rubble, in flooded homes, and on smoldering volcanos.

  17. “Oh, no, I’ve got writer’s block! Where’s the dynamite?”

  18. The film looks terrible. What is up with the recent one-upsmanship in using computer graphics to render the destruction of world landmarks? This one takes the cake when it drops the USS JFK on the White House…

  19. MNG, that’s Emmerich’s trademark.

    Well, that and making shit movies.

    1. Roland Emmerich is Michael Bay’s little brother, essentially. I must admit that my “non-initiation of force” rules start to go out the window when I see one of their fucking movies. Anyone who can generate that level of rage in me is a dangerous person.

      1. Roland Emmerich is Michael Bay’s little brother

        No, no, no, no, no. Emmerich will always be the better disaster hack because he can at least hold his camera still for lingering wide-angle shots of gorgeous destruction, and is not nearly as inclined to incoherent, seizure-inducing edits.

        1. Agreed.

          And he tends not to weigh down his movies with stupid humor. Bay tries to make his movies everything to everyone. Emmerich just wants to give you a good time while ramming liberal propaganda down your throat.

          That sounds wrong.

  20. Damn, already donated and I can’t use ‘retardiculous’ as my banner name.

  21. In 2012, both the knowledge of the impending apocalypse and the planning for its survival is limited to the member countries of the G8. Sorry, South America and Africa.

    I guess it is not because they are able to afford it being relatively capitalist instead of being ass backwards third world socialist shitholes.

  22. No one asked the most relevant question. Is there going to be an Axxo rip?

  23. Show of hands please. Thanks. You believe that if mankind is ever witness to cataclysmic upheaval that results in the near extinction of man that the people that are left will band together as one and form a purely egalitarian and uber environmentally sensitive society.

    1. I’m sorry, I was busy grilling my neighbor’s pets for food.

      What was the question again?

      1. I’m sorry, I was busy grilling my neighbors pets for food.

        Fixed for a true post-apocalypse.

    2. You believe that if mankind is ever witness to cataclysmic upheaval that results in the near extinction of man that the people that are left will band together as one and form a purely egalitarian and uber environmentally sensitive society.

      I’d love to see 2014. That’s the sequel where the genetically perfect and the economically advantaged survivors figure out that the really important people aboard are the Chinese subsistence farmers.

  24. The list of inaccuracies is too long to list but I suppose Emmerich thought he was being cute by having the JFK aircraft carrier crush the White House. Too bad that it sits in Philadelphia’s harbor, not Norfolk’s. Also, the movie implied at the very end that large parts of Africa were spared the flooding and once again it was going to be the “cradle of civilization.” (No mention of the Tigris/Euphrates River valley). Guess for once you got lucky by living in Africa.

    1. It was a really big wave.

    2. Too bad that it sits in Philadelphia’s harbor, not Norfolk’s.

      Maybe it was relocated.

  25. The big problem with Africa-as-the-cradle-of-a-new-civilization idea is that, well, the parasites that prey on humans in Africa make agriculture much more difficult than in other continents. Much of the continent wouldn’t support a preindustrial civilization the way Iraq did thousands of years ago.

    1. Well, except for Europe, much of most continents didn’t support preindustrial civilizations either.

      And there were significant African civilizations (Great Zimbabwe, Ghana) in the milennia prior to Europeans divying up the place.

  26. There is hype and truth about 2012 even some doom and gloom. At Woodstock Universe we believe 2012 is the beginning not the end. What we envision now post-2012 to be, is what will manifest.

    We will giveaway a Woodstock Universe Prize Package to the best member blog on “What will happen in 2012?”

    Prize package includes Woodstock Universe T-shirt and magnet, WDST decal, Radio Woodstock Live in Woodstock CD and Woodstock 3 days of peace and music Director’s Cut DVD.

    Join Woodstock Universe to blog.

    Check out 2012 info and listen to RADIO WOODSTOCK 69 which features only music from the original Woodstock era (1967-1971) and RADIO WOODSTOCK with live music from the original Woodstock era to today’s artists who reflect the spirit of Woodstock. Watch Woodstock TV.

    To blog or vote in our 2012 poll on what will happen in 2012 at http://www.woodstockuniverse.com.

    Peace, love, music, one world,
    RFWoodstock

    1. ‘Check out 2012 info and listen to RADIO WOODSTOCK 69 which features only music from the original Woodstock era (1967-1971) and RADIO WOODSTOCK with live music from the original Woodstock era to today’s artists who reflect the spirit of Woodstock. Watch Woodstock TV.’

      Didn’t I read about something like this in Dante?

      1. No, even Dante couldn’t imagine a ring of hell that horrible.

    2. 16! 16 “Woodstock”‘s, ah ah ah!

      Also, 15 Woodstocks, courtesy of google image search.

      1. Ah. Copy-paste link.

  27. the film’s sprawling cast of expendables, including John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetal Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover,

    He was in Serenity, you uncultured boor! Next you’ll be criticizing the new V for casting Morena Baccarin in a leading role.

    1. And he should be James Bond today. It is an eternal stain of lameness upon the UK Commonwealth in general and the Broccoli family in particular that America got a black president before England got a black James Bond.

      1. The Broccoli family’s plan is to stealthily present an Italian James Bond first. Baby steps, Tim. Giacomo Bondaro, bitches!

      2. I’m OK with Obama being the next James Bond.

  28. The destruction of L.A. stuff is the best destruction of L.A. material I’ve ever seen. And that’s just from the trailer. I’m almost tempted to see it on the big screen just for that lovingly detailed image of the 10 collapsing into hell.

    But then you can’t frame advance in a movie house. Maybe if they still had competent projectionists the audience could request frame advance. Except frame advance would wear out the film. Do they still use film in movie houses?

    1. There are still film projectors in use but they are being phased out in favor of digital projection at all the big chain theaters. For example, AMC will be all digital just in time for the end of the world in 2012.

    2. As a former projectionist, I would point out that trying to frame advance using traditional film would be very slow, as every frame is 1/24th of a second (IIRC), and frustrating as the incredible heat from the arc light melts the film.

      Maybe in a digital theater you could.

  29. Good guys always speechify to the effect that even to acknowledge such choices causes us all to be a little less human.

    If you ignore material fact and human nature, or rectify it with government, then it doesn’t exist.

  30. ‘Who needs to worry about scarce resources when the bulk of the world’s population winds up dead?’

    Which is why Ehrlich is heroic and Borlaug is demonic. Too bad there isn’t some sorta eco-God in the movie represented by a Quetzal-bird (with Al Gore’s face superimposed), that goes around and selectively chooses targets to be destroyed, in some cases huge groups of people who of course are guilty my mere association whether it be by birth or chosen affiliation.

    I mean this whole movie is based on the Mayan Calendar running out of time right? At least they should have paid homage to the Mayans by doing the whole flick in Yucatec or Tzeltal with subtitles.

  31. Well, except for Europe, much of most continents didn’t support preindustrial civilizations either.

    Huh? Meso-America (Incas, Aztecs, Mayas); South Asia (Indus Valley); Asia (Han China).

    You could argue that the only continents that didn’t support some level of pre-industrial urban societies were Australia and America north of present day Mexico.

    1. You could argue that the only continents that didn’t support some level of pre-industrial urban societies were Australia and America north of present day Mexico.

      Ah, so you subscribe to the school of thought that places Atlantis on Antarctica.

      1. I’m gonna guess that he meant the subset of continents that ever had people on them.

    2. “America north of present day Mexico”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippian_culture

  32. Do they still use film in movie houses?

    I think most movie theaters have switched to digital. It’s less likely to mess up, and digital prints don’t cost $1,500 – $3,000 a piece (times 500 to 1,200 for a major release).

    1. Nope. Not yet. The majority of US theaters still project film prints. Alas, given the condition of their bulbs and screens, audiences will rarely know that, to date, a good film print properly projected looks far better than digital projection.

      Digital will get there at some point. I just fear quality will go out the window for convenience, much like it has with the digital formats in music.

  33. And he should be James Bond today.It is an eternal stain of lameness upon the UK Commonwealth in general and the Broccoli family in particular that America got a black president before England got a black James Bond.

    John Cusack is BLACK?

    1. Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.

  34. A black Bond has some interesting possibilities. He could use white guilt as his secret weapon:

    Euro Stooge: “Sir, forgive me, but access to the consulate is restricted to those with the proper credentials.”

    Black Bond: “Now just what do you mean by that? Who are ‘those’ anyway?”

    Euro Stooge: “No…it’s not that! It’s just that SPECTRE has certain rules, and I…”

    Black Bond: “Uh huh…”

    Euro Stooge: “Go right in, sir – I apologize.”

  35. All the scenes I’ve seen so far would have worked beautifully in an adaptation of Bear’s Forge of God, or Niven/Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer, or When Worlds Collide, or any number of books that deal with that level of destruction.

    But Hollywood would have ruined them as well…

  36. (Spoilers)

    Personally, what bugged me was the typical “the world’s ending, don’t tell anyone or they’ll panic” theme. I’d love to see a disaster movie where the president announces what’s coming in time for everyone to do something about it.

    In this case you’d think the world’s resources could build more than four boats. Ronco would have a DIY ark kit on TV for $99.99 plus a lot of extras, or you could get the deluxe Sears model for $999.95. And most folks wouldn’t make the bonehead mistakes of building their boats in caves (while expecting earthquakes) or putting the big door into the boat below the water line, and tying it in to the “engine start” button.

    Of course, I shouldn’t bitch too much. I got a pretty good start on my own end-of-the-world book, but once I got the situation set up it turned out that my characters were too competent. It was hard to get them into enough trouble to keep the story exciting.

    1. “Catastrophe averted. 15 Dead, hundre’s wounded. Billions in property damage though.” by page 10.

    2. While hardly a great movie, “Deep Impact” had just such a scene.

  37. It’s not as though the producer has suffered a mid=life crisis – Roland Emmerich started herding survivors on to the Green lifeboat 25 years ago , when his very first film. The Noah’s Ark Principle premiered at the Berlin Film Festival ;

    http://adamant.typepad.com/sei…..-the-.html

  38. Der Spiegel gave us fair warning of the Apoctogobblacious flick two years ago-

    http://adamant.typepad.com/sei…..e_way.html

  39. Perhaps one telling aspect of Emmerich’s view of humanity is the fact that his London home is decorated almost entirely with Soviet era agitprop art. Here are some pics of this awfulness: http://www.nytimes.com/slidesh…..index.html

  40. It’s a good flick if you just want to see crap destroyed.

    On the other hand, if you think even a little bit about how the characters conduct themselves or the actual mechanics involved the movie is really lame.

    For instance, aside from the aforementioned old tying the door into the engine start button trick you also have some genius putting HUGE windows into the front of the ark.

    You know, the ark that is supposed to survive the end of the world?

    BIG WINDOWS.

    Then there is the deal for when they finally start the engines.

    HUGE BLACK PUFFS OF SMOKE.

    With the entire resources of the world’s wealthiest nations they are telling us they had to use petroleum based engines instead of nukes to run the ark?

    Exactly where were they supposed to refuel from in a month or so of cruising a water covered planet?

    Don’t even get me started on cell phones continuing to work when the world comes to an end. The cell phone system collapses even if you have bad weather sometimes from the numerous calls being placed!

    And of course the perfect way to survive a plane crash is to hop in a car and drive out the back end!

    Don’t get me wrong. As a disaster flick the effects are tremendous. Unfortunately you really have to work to suspend disbelief while watching it.

  41. Bad news: Roland Emmerich is foisting “2012” upon us.

    Good news: He won’t be f***ing up “The Road”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road

  42. These movies always have a healthy chunk of Earth’s population dying off because liberals firmly believe that human beings are a blight on the planet (with the exception of the northeast liberal elite, of course).

    Liberals care about people… but they care about themselves even more. So if 5 billion people have to die in order to have more undisturbed places for them to eco-tour, so be it.

    Cusick, Harrelson and Glover — Emerich doesn’t even try disguising his left-winginess these days.

  43. So its kinda like the current administrations plans to “fix” Global warming.

    I’m ok with loosing 3/4 of the population to some giant lizard-men.

  44. I wouldn’t take anything in this movie too seriusly – I brought my 2 tween boys to see it the other nite – the action scenes are awesome but the rest is comically unserious.

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