Days of Future Past: 2012

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Written by Amanda Pampuro

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Get rich or die Mayan.

2012 is a cinematic masterpiece about what happened in the present times when the Doctor and Clara decided to have a jolly holiday in 1892. So much for Torchwood…

Why summarize when you can quantify? For 45 minutes, 2012 shows what ordinary people around the world are doing on a given day, until destruction hits for 15 minutes and then all goes quiet again until 1:18. Then the action spikes at 1:41 and calms at 1:45 until 2:05 where there are explosions and people running around and ships flooding until whenever the movie ends.

Before I continue what is really a three-scroll complaint about shitty action movies, let me commend two awesome extras. I will draw you attention to highly underrated Ania Shawkat one frame appearance as a convenience store clerk and Ryan McDonald, our beloved Massive Dynamic scientist, who plays another henchman in a lab coat.

According to the ironclad plot, when the planets align on December 21, 2012, the Earth’s core will boil and the sun will send out enormous flares. So life singed out of existence from below and above just as our profit Robert Frost said. Still, at the end of the world, it’s unclear—and unasked—why everything is being destroyed. The religion question is left ambiguous. Is this a 5000-year old postcard from an angry god? Or was it just a matter of time before our planet shook us off like a dog scratching the fleas that we are?

Filmed in 2009, set in 2012, director Emmerich predicts that on the last day of the Mayan calendar, mass suicides would occur around the temple ruins in Columbia. Instead, hippies gathered to trip and dance in a “Rainbow Gathering.” And sometimes I prefer this absurd optimism of reality over society’s constant talk of the end of times.

2012 also predicts that the wealthy elite of the world will know of impending doom long before the proletariats. While this makes perfect sense, in our capitalistic society, that salvation will be granted to those who can afford first, I would like to point out a minor flaw in this notion. Money—something that is about to become worthless—is a terrible variable by which to decide who lives and who dies. Having been wealthy is not a necessary skill for rebuilding humanity, it does not make one good at gathering food or building shelters. In fact, coming from a privileged class become more of a handicap, in a species focused on surviving, rather than maintaining a class of leisure.

Because 2012 is a modern and fairly well-known movie, I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that my readers know it was terribly written and acted. Still I’ve been considering the problem of John Cusack—who is an all in all well-liked actor and human being. So why is he so hateable in 2012? Two things:

201201#1. John Cusack is a classy ‘80’s actor. And I think he was unprepared for the amount of CGI in 2012. You take a strong character actor, and give him a green screen, he is going to act like the failed writer/father, without having a clear idea of how bad things are outside of his window, he’s going to look ridiculous.

#2. John Cusack is literally supposed to be the last guy on Earth to know the world is ending. He is the average Joe, who makes it out on luck. It takes 2012 45 minutes to set up and show the viewers  rich folk buying arc tickets, diagrams of the Earth’s core boiling, and the president talking to the UN. That something bad is about to happen is so clear and obvious, John Cusack’s naiveté becomes painful to watch. That, his ex-wife, played by Amanda Peet, has the exact same disease as Lori Grimes that prevents her from acknowledging the backdrop, and acting like a whiny, dramatic housewife up until she is ripped apart by zombies.

I guess I owe an apology to Michael Bay, for all the curses I threw at him, the night I rewatched 2012 for unbiased reviewing, because Michael Bay did not direct 2012, the crime belongs to Roland Emmerich. So, Michael Bay, I’m sorry I assumed all bad movies were directed by you—I didn’t realize you had friends.

Roland Emmerich’s 2012 isn’t just terrible because Emmerich is terrible writer and director, it is also terrible, because of the audience Emmerich appeals to. Despite its efforts to appear global, this film is as Ameri-centric as it gets, as indicated by the final shot of the arc pulling up to a seemingly untouched Africa. If Africa really was the only continent to survive the heating of the Earth’s core, then it’s also likely that some people adapted to a harsh climate also survived—until three arcs full of Americans and elitists pulls up and reestablishes power. So much for a hopeful ending… at least I lived Mayan way.

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