Ever thought about putting your house up for and AirBnB? If so, did you ever give a thought to the judgment potential renters might give you from your DVD collection? You don’t know how it got there. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe you got it at a 3 for $5 sale at Wal-Mart. Or, perhaps worst of all, maybe you actually like it. Welcome to “BnB Shame”.
Why make it:
Hey, remember that “panic” that was stirred up a few years back? As a sort of sequel to Y2K, word got around that the new date for the end of the world was 2012. The year that the Mayan calendar comes to an end. The new end date gained some traction in the mid-2000’s… and a part of me suspects that this all part of director Roland Emmerich’s creative marketing push. (DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am being facetious.)
Well, in 2009, we were finally ready for stark 9/11 imagery again! After 2001, the Spider-Man movie was famously scrubbed of Twin Towers imagery. Die Hard, the best action movie ever made, temporarily disappeared from the airwaves. Eight years later though, it’s totally OK to blow up buildings again! Bay’s Transformers movies were in full swing (and they wouldn’t go all out 9/11 until the second movie.) Emmerich, who was most famous for shooting a laser down on the White House in ID4, definitely took note.
In a more expensive remake of the wanton carnage seen in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication” video, towers all over LA are collapsing in cartoony fashion! There’s even a giant doughnut rolling across the screen! And it’s not just LA. Las Vegas’ strip also completely collapses into a hole in the ground! Honolulu is up in flames! That giant statue of Christ in Rio topples over!
You can just see all of Emmerich’s pent up aggression blowing up all over the screen.
And starring in this movie… people:
So… it really doesn’t matter who stars in this movie. Their very presence is just a plot convenience to go from one disaster to the next. Who cares if John Cusack (playing Jackson Curtis — who, and I am kidding you not, is named after the rapper 50 Cent) gets together with his family? This time around, I kinda didn’t want him to. Gordon actually does seem like a nice guy, and the family would probably be better off without him! All these scenes do is provide us some breathing space before Yellowstone National Park blows up.
And, well, other sites have mentioned it… but it’s not hard to sympathize with Oliver Platt is it? At one point my wife (pointing out a different character) said, “I can’t remember. Is he the bad guy?” And my reply: “I don’t think there are any bad guys in this movie.” And it’s true. Everyone is just trying to survive. The nominal good guy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) makes some dangerous mistakes by being the good guy… and I think that’s intentional on Emmerich’s part. It’s an interesting dilemma. He wants to save everyone… but pretty clearly, in the face of the apocalypse, you can’t save everyone. He may be right that trying to save people may be what retains your humanity, but at what cost if you’re potentially dooming a good section of humanity at the same time? It seems like a recurring theme in these Emmerich movies: the “good guys” are never 100% right.
I was surprised about the acting caliber this movie attracted. I had completely forgotten that the president was played by Danny Glover, and his daughter was played by Thandie Newton. Oh my God, guys! What are you guys doing here? There are much better movies you can be in!
We are all the god:
Emmerich, though, is just giving the audiences what they want. 2012 is the kind of movie where we can’t wait to see an aircraft carrier fall on poor defenseless people, and we can’t wait to see it happen. That’s what all the marketing was based on. Every single movie poster showed massive amounts of destruction, and we conveniently forget that this is supposed to represent millions of people dying. Maybe… just maybe… we are the End of the Mayan Calendar? It’s as if we’re the vengeful god taking glee in wiping out the human race.
Two by two:
The great disaster coming in 2012 is a giant flood… one that goes over the top of Himalayas. This was all a stealth Noah movie right? There’s even a little kid named Noah. All the heroes are trying to make their way to China where three arks (and they are referred to as “arks”) are being constructed in secret. We see them ferry animals by helicopter into the arks. A key part of the story are survivors pleading for the people in the arks to open the doors.
And, just to drive the point home, there are recurring vignettes aboard a cruise ship called The Genesis. (Fun fact! The DVD features an alternate ending, which shows that the people on the Genesis survived a megatsunami. But no key Tamara survival footage, sadly.)
Also something to consider: most movies of this kind attribute global disaster to an environmental catastrophe. This one is of a more stellar origin. We open on the very active surface of the sun. We learn that the planets are aligned in such a way as to cause the poles of the Earth to go out of whack. Whatever happens was out of our control from the beginning. It is a true act of cosmic fury.
I thought that the fate of Tamara, that one Russian guy’s girlfriend, was pretty cruel. The last we see of her, she’s drowning in a sealed off chamber after getting John Cusack’s girl and her little dog out. We don’t see her afterward, even after the disaster has passed. But it doesn’t make sense! First off, we know that there was a grate above her chamber, from which she could breathe. Second, we see a ticking clock… and we kinda know that she probably had plenty of time to hold her breath before the rescue time arrived to open the door (which I assume was accessible once they unwrapped that cord from the door gears). Other deaths in the movie were more definitive. How was Tamara so glossed over? We only see the heroes celebrating while presumably a dead woman was floating in the chamber next door?
Headcanon: Tamara got out, but it was off camera. And when they do that group shot at the end, she was probably in the bathroom.
So many plot holes, which is appropriate to for a movie where large holes form in the ground:
John Cusack and family fly out to Yellowstone, but, after discovering a map that reveals the location of the Ark, they fly to the newest airport to catch a bigger plane. Which is in Las Vegas.
What the hell? I know that Yellowstone is kind of out there in the middle of nowhere, but are you telling me you couldn’t find an international airport nearby? Even if you didn’t want to go to Salt Lake City (a mere 300 miles away), you do know that Denver (500 miles away), one of the busiest hubs in the US, is a lot closer than Vegas, right? (By more than 200 miles, even!)
Then they try to cross the Pacific by hijacking an Antonov An-225. OK. It’s carrying a bunch of cars that were supposed to be displayed at the Las Vegas Auto Show. Their plan is to refuel in Honolulu. Well, it turns out that Honolulu is toast, and they’re going to have to make a water landing! Now I know what you’re thinking: why not ditch all the cars in the cargo bay so you can extend the range? That very thought never crossed any of the characters, the screenwriters, or the director, and our heroes carry the entire payload across the Pacific. So they all prepare for a water landing.
Fortunately, it turns out the continents have shifted 1,000 miles. They’re almost at the location of the arks, despite any sort of guidance system being completely useless. How conveeeeeeenieeeennnnnt.
This leads me to think they ran out of money and they couldn’t film 1.) cars being launch out of a plane, and 2.) a water landing. But… no, they still do a sequence where they ditch the cars but only when they’re making a snow landing. What?!?!?
Potential BnB Renter Assessment:
Interestingly, this one might get some play. It did pretty well in theaters, and probably because it was so dumb. Post-apocalyptic movies can be a drag. This is one of the few that can make the deaths of billions seem like a fun adventure.