Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: John Cusack, Chiwetel
Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Tom McCarthy, Danny Glover,
Director: Roland Emmerich
Audio: DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length: 158 Minutes
Release Date: March 2, 2010
“Professor...it's Air Force One...”
Growing up in the 70s, I was a huge sucker for the big-budgeted, low-brained disaster pictures that rattled audiences' brains and raked in huge box office cash. Most of these came from Irwin Allen, who knew how to put together a huge cast of stars and leave many of them toes up by the end of a large and loud special effects extravaganza. It was Hollywood entertainment at its most fun.
I can't help but think that wherever he is, Mr. Allen is standing and applauding the latest effort from Roland Emmerich. 2012 is the disaster movie that will make any other disaster movie that comes after unnecessary and irrelevant. In other words, this is the exclamation point on an entire genre, and nothing you've seen before, be it Armageddon, Deep Impact, The Poseidon Adventure or The Day After Tomorrow, will ever seem like more than a warm-up.
2012 is, of course, the year made famous by the Mayan calendar as the year the world will somehow come to an end. Scientists have discussed an upcoming planetary alignment that happens only once every few hundred thousand years. I'm not sure what is fact and what is fiction surrounding the fabled year, but one friend of mine asked a fascinating question: why are we so hung up on the Mayan prediction for the end of the world when they couldn't even foresee their own demise?
Regardless...in this movie, the end of the world is indeed nigh, and it's not going out with a whimper. As large solar flares cause the earth's core to heat, the crust is becoming unstable. Soon, and right before our eyes, it is shifting, breaking apart, and making life generally impossible for those who dwell on its surface.
This is an explosive roller coaster ride of astonishing visuals, potent suspense, and intense drama, as the carnage only slows long enough for a tender moment or two. And in the greatest traditions of Irwin Allen, you can't bet safely on who will live or who will not make it to the final reel.
If there's a complaint, it's that it runs a little long for my taste, but how quickly do we want to put the wraps on our planet? And there are disaster movie clichés that are lovingly adhered to, such as how a five minute countdown can take ten or fifteen minutes of screen time, or how some average Joe can hold his breath longer than any Olympic swimmer in history.
No matter...the movie does many more things right, like bringing us unimaginable disaster in one delightfully terrifying scene after another, or the fact that for once, global warming is not cited as the cause of the disaster. Well, in a way it is, I suppose, but this film actually dares to suggest a radical scientific proposal such as the SUN is actually responsible for how warm or cold our world gets. Imagine that.
2012 is an exhausting experience, but in a good way. You will have marveled at so many visuals, tightened up at so much suspense, and possibly even shed a tear or two by the time it's over that a nap might be in order. In any case, the bar has definitely been set, and unless we can come up with a feasible story about the entire universe winking out, nobody is going to be overcoming this barrier any time soon.
It's the end of the world as we know it, and it looks fine...spectacular, in fact. There is an amazing and almost relentless amount of detail in the stunning visual effects, and I'm pleased to say, not a piece of it is lost in this amazing high definition transfer. The colors are natural, and the lines and contrasts are crisp and clear. For the most part, I just sat amazed as one shot after another filled my eyes with so much to observe. An exemplary effort.
The only aspect of the disc that possibly eclipses the video quality is the stunningly loud and dynamic DTS HD soundtrack. Like the movie, the audio is relentless, thunderous and powerful, with danger flying constantly from every corner and pulsing madly through the bass channel. Outstanding!
On this Blu-ray, you can enjoy an audio commentary from Roland Emmerich, or watch a picture-in-picture presentation during the movie that shows how his visions came to life. There is an alternate ending with some blatantly unfinished CGI work, and movieIQ along with BD Live for your internet-capable player.
2012 is a disaster of unprecedented proportions, and in this case, that's a compliment of the highest order. Your eyes and mouth will stay wide open as you experience the end of everything in true big budgeted special effect laden Hollywood fashion, and this exemplary Blu-ray is the perfect way to experience it at home.