Inhuman virtual simulation

2009-12-07 00:00

THE premise for 2012 suggests that neutrinos emitted through solar flares and acting like microwaves have begun heating up the earth’s core. The result is that the earth’s crust will begin shifting, resulting in massive earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. The predictions are catastrophic for the human race, and a project is embarked on to build souped-up arks in the Himalayas to save at least 400 000 people. Just who you save is an interesting question and is what underpins the philosophical thrust of the movie.

With such subject matter, the odds of succeeding in effectively capturing the last moments of humanity are unlikely, especially with a plot strand that suggests a governmental conspiracy meant to deprive people of the truth. The right to deal with their own fates is denied, depriving us as an audience of what would have been a far more poignant rendition of the end of days. Poignancy, however, is not the realm of the disaster movie; rather these movies are all about spectacle.

Who else to helm the the disaster movie to end all disaster movies but Roland Emmerich. He owns the genre with films such as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. His vision is truly jaw-dropping in the key moments of destruction and his chutzpah and imagination in destroying icons is legendary. This time the White House gets the treatment via an aircraft carrier surfing a really scary tidal wave. The end of Yellowstone Park is another set-piece that inspires awe in terms of craft.

Unfortunately, the awesome vision is compromised by a weakness that has emerged in Emmerich’s oeuvre. He stretches credibility beyond breaking point with irritatingly contrived plot devices. In Independence Day it was a laptop that was able to interface with alien technology. In this film, one example is a helter-skelter chase through streets of a town being destroyed by an earthquake, that requires such exemplary and pinpoint driving by protagonist John Cusack that we are left contemplating the fictionary elements of the film rather than being drawn in. Hell, Michael Schumacher wouldn’t survive 20 seconds in this scenario. Licence is granted, but Emmerich abuses us, and his film becomes, at times, nothing more than an inhuman virtual simulation.

The required ensemble cast for disaster movies is present and 2012 has a motley crew of, sometimes strange, characters that have been written as plot devices, rather than as real people with dramatic possibilities. The only stand-out for me was Woody Harrelson as a ranting conspiracy theorist.

I have been harsh on Emmerich and there is much for fans of the genre to enjoy. Also, for local audiences, the coda posits an interesting theory that the Drakensberg becomes the new Himalayas and the destination of 2012’s survivors. Thanks Roland for the most expensive tourism commercial ever made. I’ll see you at Giant’s Castle in 2012! ***

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.