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2012 (2009/I)
11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Less fun than being punched in the face, 1 December 2009
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How did this film ever get made? More to the point, why did so many talented actors sign up for it?

Where to start? Well, okay the special effects are gob-smackingly good. I mean truly brilliant - but sadly that's all that this film has going for it, and after 30 minutes that's not enough to stop you looking for the exit.

The story starts reasonably well, albeit with all of the usual disaster movie clichés. Things take a wrong turn pretty fast though and by the time the first of the holes in the ground appear you're wishing that the Earth had opened up and swallowed the scriptwriter and producers instead. One over the top improbable special effects sequence follows another, and whilst they are audio-visual feasts, I wish even one tenth of the same effort had gone into writing a script that didn't hit every cloyingly saccharine cliché ever to come out of Hollywood. I mean truly - you'll cringe at almost every line.

The actors seem to be running brain-in-neutral, like they too can't wait for the film to finish. I can see them all thinking the same thing; "whatever, this is a piece of c**p, but that paycheck has some nice zeroes on it and Madoff did kinda screw us." John Cusack is one of my favourite actors, but an hour in even I couldn't care less if he died or not. There was just no heart in his acting. Danny Glover was passable, but totally mis-cast as the President. The show-stealer was Oliver Platt who gave an excellent performance as the jaded, cynical politico who is the main antagonist of the film. You really believe in his character and find yourself agreeing with him whilst all the other characters run around spouting unbelievably cheesy platitudes. Woody Harrelson is sadly underused, and his crackpot character given too much credence by John Cusack's protagonist. The other performances are largely forgettable.

But the worst - the absolute worst thing - about this film is the lack of any pretence of reality in the story. Ridiculous doesn't even begin to cover it. Over the top is par for course especially in disaster movies, but this one really aims for the stars. It massively overindulges itself, and you find yourself rolling your eyes as science is left for dust and the end of the possibility curve is but a distant memory as each new set-piece rolls out on its embarrassingly ludicrous premise. The clincher is the Cistine Chapel sequence, where one shot - you'll know it when you see it - just had everybody in my cinema groaning and rolling their eyes. After that, it didn't matter how good the visual effects were, because the suspension of disbelief - perilously thin as it was up until then - was totally lost and the audience started looking at their watches and wondering if the football highlights might be more entertaining.

So, the good in this film boils down to the visual effects and Oliver Platt. Everything else is either dire, forgettable, or just totally unmemorable. I can't even comment on the score because I genuinely can't remember anything of it.

The only reason I could think of to recommend this film is as an example of how bad the genre can be. You'd be hard pressed to find worse; Armageddon, Independence Day, Poseidon, Volcano, Dante's Peak and Day After Tomorrow are all far better than this. That should give you an indicator of how much you need to body-swerve this flick.