Cinema’s master of disaster is back! Roland Emmerich unleashed invading extraterrestrials in Independence Day, a giant mutant lizard in Godzilla and a new ice age in The Day After Tomorrow. With new movie 2012, however, he really lets rip.
If you’ve boned up on Mayan prophecies recently, you’ll know what’s in store. 2012 is the date of the apocalypse according to a thousand-year-old Mayan calendar that probably wasn’t consulted when London bid for the next Olympics. In Emmerich’s movie, however, the end of the world is well and truly nigh, which is bad news for leading man John Cusack, his US-centric co-stars and the rest of the planet.
Cusack plays divorced dad/struggling writer/limo driver Jackson Curtis, who gets wind of the impending catastrophe while on a camping trip to Yellowstone Park with his young son and daughter. There he runs into flaky pirate radio host Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson at his most bonkers), who is busily prophesising imminent doom to his listeners from his RV.
The man who really is in the know is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s boffin, the US president’s chief science advisor, Adrian Helmsley. He’s worked out that the planet’s core has been overheating for years. In consequence, the earth’s crust is beginning to shift and is about to set off an unstoppable chain of volcanoes, earthquakes and giant tsunamis around the globe.
Nothing can be done to avert disaster. But do the world’s leaders have a plan? And can Cusack’s Jackson gather up his estranged family (including ex-wife Amanda Peet and her new boyfriend) and get them to safety (where?) before the planet falls apart?
As Jackson strives frantically to keep his nearest and dearest a step ahead of disaster, it’s clear that Emmerich really knows what he’s doing. In a few years time (if we’re still around) the film’s special effects will probably look hokey, but for now 2012’s cataclysmic visions are incredibly exciting. Volcanoes spew lava bombs, earthquakes tear up city blocks, skyscrapers topple, California sinks beneath the waves, and it’s an amazing thrill ride – from the safety of your seat. Who would have thought the end of the world would be so… exhilarating!?