Too much bang for your buck
The destruction is fun at first, but the end of the world takes forever in writes Donald Clarke
YOU’D THINK that the end of the earth might be the sort of theme towards which a film-maker would gradually, cautiously work his way. After a lifetime making sensitive, humane films, Boris Von Megaphone might eventually feel able to flood Africa and send earthquakes rattling through the Rhineland.
Not Roland Emmerich. Following on from The Day After Tomorrow, this quite extraordinary film marks the second time in five years that the German has laid waste to our poor wee planet. If you include Independence Day, then he’s annihilated the world three times in 13 years.
You’ve got to hand it to Roland. Not only does he keep harping back to the apocalypse, he does so with a shameless devotion to the obvious that belies a staggering degree of chutzpah.
Unintentionally nodding towards Team America: World Police, 2012 inhabits (for a while) a world where every building in Paris offers a view of the Eiffel Tower, every window in London overlooks Big Ben, and the Washington memorial elbows its pointy way into every vista of the US capital.
Later, when mountains fall and skyscrapers implode, the ubiquity of the Sony Corporation’s phones, computers and hand-held games continues uninterrupted. When the Empire State Building finally begins to topple, a Sony Vaio may, you suspect, be all you need to protect your delicate skull. (Do we need to say which studio produced 2012?) What a brass neck this man has.
Okay, but 2012 must, I hear you say, be good fun. It’s hard to watch LA falling into the sea without cracking the slightest of smiles. Well, up to a point. If you removed all the hooey about “Earth Crust Displacement” and all the boring stuff involving John Cusack and his estranged wife, then you’d be left with about an hour of good-old knockabout computer-generated catastrophe.
Sadly 2012 stretches out to a mind-boggling 158 minutes and, by its absurdly protracted denouement, the end of the world would seem a blessed relief.
Like a 1970s disaster flick: Thandie Newton (left) and Chiwetel Ejiofor let loose in 2012