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If the baby had ping pong ball eyes, it would have looked even sillier. But would it have improved the overall film?
12/12/12 probably isn't the worst rampaging killer baby movie, but it certainly isn't the best. It works against the film that the performance of most important character in the story is never, ever visually convincing. "Baby Sebastian" gets plenty of screen time, and is at the center of a storm of violence and unpleasantness, yet always looks like an ugly baby-doll (for good reason.) If you're willing to embrace the fact that everyone else in the story is running around screaming and attacking each other because of a silly-looking doll, then the movie is pretty darn entertaining. If unconvincing effects ruin your enjoyment, keep your distance.
Other reviewers have complained about the performances of the human actors, and I'm uncertain what bothered them, considering what one expects in low-budget movies of this genre. I thought they were all adequate, and some performances seemed pretty good, to my tastes. Sara Malakul Lane was just fine, and I'm always entertained by Steve Hanks. Shauna Chin was particularly appealing (which was troubling, because you know immediately she is in for some bad luck) and Jesus Guevara is better than he seems to be, on first viewing. I can't think of anyone whose acting diminishes the film.
Of course, it is a pretty goofy film we're discussing here. I would call it a stupid movie, except I don't think it ever pretended to be an intelligent one. It makes sense only in a loopy dream-logic way...in fact I was afraid the writer would wuss out and have the whole thing turn out to be a hallucination or a nightmare or some other cheat. He didn't.
Also, as far as not cheating goes, it was good to see the producers using a practical effect (the puppet baby) rather than a computer-generated animation. CGI would have looked boring, cheap and unconvincing. The puppet looked yucky-funny and unconvincing, which is far more appealing and amusing to my eyes.
The other technical aspects of the movie were all pretty high-quality, which makes the completed film seem all the more surrealistic and inexplicable. The photography is clear and well-lit (I never had any doubt what was supposed to be happening on-screen), the sound was clear and the dialogue (the weird, dreamlike dialogue!) was all audible. The production crew should all be proud of their work.
Well, the production crew, with the possible exception of Sean Patrick Watkins, fabricator of Baby Sebastian, the central character of 12/12/12. It's hard to divine whether it was actually intended to look lifelike (in which case, it failed), or creepily and surrealistically non-lifelike (possible partial success), or whether Watkins's work was actually a hastily-constructed "Plan B" that had to be used when some other practical effect (a monkey in a baby suit?) failed to materialize. Perhaps it is more intriguing just to leave this creative decision as a movieland mystery.
Even more mysterious: when the story drew to a close, I asked myself, "I wonder if there will be a sequel?" And I realized ruefully, that I actually would gladly pay money to see a follow-up film. I cannot explain why.
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