By Jacob Montgomery (Texas)
Well, the Mayans were wrong. So now that 2012 is now long gone, we look back at people’s actual paranoia that the world really was going to end and laugh. And now it means that this movie has finally lost any semblance of relevance it might’ve had. And that’s a good thing.
I would normally briefly summarize the film’s plot here, but calling the film’s barrage of events a “plot” would be giving this film too much credit. It’s purely an excuse for characters to witness massive worldwide destruction and escape by the skin of their teeth, while we get to watch.
The film is basically just that, pretty visual effects, while people run away from them. There’s no substance in between. The effects are not that great either. I could always tell exactly what I’m looking at is CG. Oftentimes it felt like watching someone else play a video game. What makes it even worse is that it does try to be touching, and heartwarming, and attempt to elicit emotion out of you, and tries to make you think that it’s more than just a basic disaster movie. However, it drips of pretention and a gigantic ego.
This is also one of the most frustratingly overlong movies in recent memory. At nearly 3 hours long, the film feels like it’s never going to end, and at one point, I had a brief moment of dread that it wasn’t. When you have so many characters and plot threads rolling around, it makes the film jumbled and way too long, which is something that Roland Emmerich struggles with as a director, and here it’s at his worst.
So with so many characters, there had to be a character that I identified with. And I did, the antagonist of the story, Carl Anheuser, the president’s advisor. You are probably wondering the same thing I am, why is there an antagonist in a story about Armageddon? I don’t know, maybe the filmmakers didn’t think such a thing as Earth’s destruction would be enough conflict, so they felt it was absolutely essential to the story to have a human antagonist. I identified with him because he’s the character that’s making the most sense. I could write a whole entire paper on why he’s actually the voice of reason in all this madness instead of the film’s protagonists, but instead I’ll just leave you with this; the film ends with a humanitarian message, but those same people almost inadvertently end up wiping out the entire human race.
Even the destruction scenes are not fun to watch. The way the film callously murders billions of people and then kind of tosses them to the side is just sad, but not in a good way. In fact, two major characters are killed off in the climax, in relatively gruesome and horrific ways, and one of them was mentioned I think once afterwards, and the other didn’t even get a token mention. And the way those characters were killed off was so gruesome and drawn out that it bordered on sadistic. I thought the point of a disaster movie was to have fun, not be sickened by the mayhem and destruction.
The film is an insult to common sense. Even after the destruction of the entire planet, at the end of the film the Earth is ready for people to live on it again in a month, which is absolute nonsense. The film is also cruel, and feels the need to unnecessarily kill off as many characters as possible in order to show how serious the whole situation is. It tries to smart and deep, but comes across as not really understanding what they’re talking about. And it goes on for an hour and a half too long.
Is there anything I liked in the film? Well, there is 1 scene that made me laugh. It involved someone flipping off another character. If that’s the highlight of your movie, you’ve done something wrong.