You’ve seen the ads already. You’ve seen the buildings collapsing. You’ve seen the cities flooding. You’ve seen a car somehow manage to outrace an earthquake in Los Angeles, WITH NO TRAFFIC OF ANY KIND standing in its way. You’ve seen John Cusack, reaching the nadir of a career that began falling off a cliff sometime around High Fidelity, on the phone with Amanda Peet, delivering the line, “CALIFORNIA IS GOING DOWN!” You’ve seen all that going into 2012, and surely you’ve thought to yourself, “This movie will either be mildly diverting, or the suckiest movie that has ever sucked.” Well, judgment day has arrived for destructo-porn auteur Roland Emmerich’s epic. And many critics agree that, yes, 2012 is pretty sucky. WE WERE WARNED. The New York Times:
I know what I have against Roland Emmerich, but what does he have against us?
The Wall Street Journal:
operates in a dead zone roughly equidistant between parody and idiocy.
a cheesy, ridiculous story.
But all is not lost for fans of apocalyptic popcorn cinema. 2012 also got a handful of good reviews from the New York Post, the Washington Post, and the one and only Roger Ebert:
This is fun. 2012 delivers what it promises, and since no sentient being will buy a ticket expecting anything else, it will be, for its audiences, one of the most satisfactory films of the year.”
Ebert’s got a good point. You’re not going into this movie expecting Taxi Driver. In that sense, a film like 2012 is virtually critic-proof, and will almost certainly make a mint this weekend. The problem with that is that Hollywood now seems to churn out NOTHING but critic-proof films. Transformers 2. GI Joe. And such and such. I’m not talking about mere popcorn films. I’m talking about a class of films that are basically product, used to restock theaters each week because you’ll go no matter what’s playing. They’re just THERE. It’s fun to go out with your friends for a couple of hours and revel in all the CG and bad dialogue. That’s a good time. But it’s also nice, sometimes, to want MORE out of a flick. It doesn’t have to be some horrid period drama where a governess is concerned she can’t marry her benefactor. That’s worse than death. It can just be a genuinely GOOD movie, one that’s slightly more intellectually engaging than 2012. But those movies are becoming harder and harder to come by. If we’re not careful, mindless filler will be all we’re left with. WE WERE WARNED.