Movie Reviews

Ken reviews: 2012

By Ken KwekMovies - 12 November 2009 12:00 AM | Updated 09 December 2014

Ken reviews: 2012


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Rating: 1 out of 5

It seems pointless reviewing a movie like 2012.

Even if I hate it and give it a rating of zero stars, it's probably not going to stop the hordes of undiscerning consumers from buying a ticket, a ticket to a two-and-a-half hour abomination that cost US$200 million - or a third of Singapore's annual GDP - to make.

I apologise for sounding churlish, but my outrage is genuine. It had to be expressed - purged - such that I could sleep better the night I watched the preview.

Let's press on. Everyone knows director Roland Emmerich is the master of the Blockbuster Disaster Movie. Or, more specifically, the Hollywood Nasty With The Obscene Budget.

Emmerich practically created the genre when he made Independence Day in 1996.  He would go on to make Godzilla in 1998 and The Day After Tomorrow in 2004.

And now, this. Here I mirror Emmerich's method by tiresomely pointing out the blooming obvious: 2012 is a movie that peddles, quite unabashedly, the cheapest of formulas.


Formula #1:  A scientist discovers the onset of an impending cataclysm that threatens to wipe out all of mankind.

In Independence Day, Jeff Goldblum worked out the invasion calculus of an alien civilisation bent on taking over the Earth. In 2012, Chiwetel Ejiofor predicts the complete shattering of the planet's tectonic plates and helps formulate a global evacuation plan. In both films, the first interminable hour is filled with dialogue rife with pseudo-scientific jargon.

Formula #2: Disaster strikes and a hot-blooded second protagonist is introduced, scrambling to perform feats of dazzling rescue in a deluge of special effects.

In Independence Day, Will Smith piloted his F-15 fighter jet through a firestorm of alien ships. In 2012, chauffeur John Cusack steers his family out of a 9.5-Richter earthquake with driving skills that would make Michael Schumacher look like an amateur.

Formula #3: Several iconic landmarks are digitally annihilated, and the orgy of destruction is heightened by an assembly-line orchestral score.  Just as he did in Independence Day, Emmerich demolishes the White House in 2012 - only this time he does so in a far less bombastic, less humorous fashion.

Formula #4: All remaining formulas are exhausted. In other words, the stakes are raised as apocalypse beckons; a guilt-ridden American president rallies his people (and the world) with a maudlin, nonsensical speech; ordinary heroes and victims - mostly American - emerge; the leading man settles all unresolved 'issues' with his estranged lover and performs a final act of heroism that saves the human race from extinction. This was the scheme for Independence Day, and it is no different here.

By the time 2012 reaches its third and final act, the audience will either be gawking at the sheer audaciousness of the visuals, or yawning at the film's consummate lack of imagination. (I swear, by my grandfather's grave, that as the film entered its second interminable hour, the woman sitting next to me in the cinema went to sleep.)

The latter will be felt by those who recognise 2012 as little more than a rehash of Independence Day. Unbelievably, it is a more expensive product (Independence Day cost US$75 million), and not necessarily a more entertaining one. In fact, it's a film with a cost and scale completely disproportionate to its quality.

With 2012, Emmerich once again pads a hollow story with an arsenal of digital gimmicks. He parodies his own excesses, and turns fine actors into corny, mugging clichés. In sum, he re-asserts Hollywood's indomitable capacity to take its own poverty of ideas to ever-dizzying heights.

(Editor's Note: unlike Ken, Cinema Online absolutely love 2012.Read their review here)

About Ken Kwek
Ken Kwek is a playwright and screenwriter. His screen credits include The Blue Mansion (2009) and the forthcoming Kidnapper (2010).

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2012
  • 2012

    (2009)
  • Rated
    PG /
    Genre
    Action, Science Fiction
  • Language
    Eng
  • (30 Reviews)