AWFJ Women On Film – “2012” – Susan Granger reviews

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Does anyone remember how ominous it was when calendar turned from 1999 to 2000? Alarmists warned that Y2K might make all our computers fail, and I suspect that we’ll feel the same way – in retrospect – when December 21, 2012, comes and goes, despite so-called end of the Mayan calendar. But right now, it’s doomsday at the multiplex as Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,””The Day After Tomorrow”) draws on every cataclysmic disaster movie you’ve ever seen for this Noah’s Ark flood concept.

The archetypical characters include the reluctant Everyman hero, Jackson Curtis (John Curtis), a failed novelist/divorced father who works as a limo driver for a Russian billionaire (Zlatko Buric). Jackson’s taking his children (Liam James, Morgan Lily) camping in Yellowstone National Park, where he discovers that his favorite lake has dried up because the temperature at the Earth’s core is rapidly rising and the Tectonic plates are moving. His ex-wife (Amanda Peet) is the strong mother who’s now living with a Porche-driving plastic surgeon/amateur pilot (Tom McCarthy), and, of course, there’s the nutjob, alarmist radio host/conspiracy theorist (Woody Harrelson), perched on a mountain-top. Meanwhile, a conscientious government scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor), alarmed by an increase in solar flares and neutrino activity, had previously alerted the President (Danny Glover), his art-collecting daughter (Thandie Newton) and chief-of-staff (Oliver Platt), who have made plans to evacuate the planet via the Himalayas.

If you ignore the gobbledygook of geology and physics, what’s remarkable are the overabundance of CGI visual effects, repetitively featuring earthquakes collapsing skyscrapers and destroying cities, like Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro, and monuments, like St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by volcanic eruptions and monstrous tsunamis submerging what’s left. (That’s how the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy wipes out the White House.) To achieve close-ups of this absurdly catastrophic mass destruction, Emmerich and his production team built several outdoor stages on gimbals that, literally, shook the actors fleeing down the streets amid the mayhem.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “2012”is a formulaic, frenzied 5. It’s a spectacular but ultimately silly blast.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.