Let’s get the sniffy movie-snob protests out of the way. Yes, ‘2012’ is infantile. Yes, it treats the deaths of six billion people as little more than a tragic footnote. Yes, it’s about as interested in subtlety, narrative invention or character development as the Corkscrew at Alton Towers.But what a ride. There are moments – sights, sounds, special effects – that have never been seen or imagined before, sequences of staggering complexity, immaculate detail and breathtaking scale. In summary, it may seem like just another disaster movie, but this one is bigger, louder, crazier and more wildly exhilarating than anything previously attempted, even by Roland ‘Independence Day’ Emmerich’s own smash ’n’ grab standards.
The plot is little more than a framing device, the MacGuffin something to do with sunspots, plate tectonics and the Mayan calendar. The closest we have to a hero is John Cusack’s shambolic failed author Jackson Curtis, whose attempts to save his estranged family from a fiery death somehow involve Russian plutocrats, Himalayan plane crashes and Woody Harrelson in a fez.
But nobody goes to a movie like this for the storyline. This is disaster porn, and unashamedly so: pavements crack, buildings topple, crowds flee, planes plummet and world leaders scramble to save their own skins as the planet goes to hell in a handcart. Posterity will not be kind to ‘2012’ – and it definitely won’t work on DVD – but catch it on the biggest, noisiest screen available and approach it on its own terms, and it’ll knock your socks off.
Read the director's guide the perfect disaster movie here