Huge-iosity has no truer practitioner than Roland Emmerich, the demolitions expert behind Independence Day (the White House), Godzilla (the Brooklyn Bridge) and The Day After Tomorrow (the earth’s Northern Hemisphere). Emmerich’s films offer the rush of throwing a sandbox tantrum; here, he upends the whole playground. In case there’s a New Age no-fly zone around you, that date—2012—happens to be the mystical year in which the Mayan calendar is said to end, along with the world. Or maybe not. Perhaps what the ancients were actually predicting was a great expense of money on stupefyingly silly special effects involving John Cusack, epic floods, an exploding Vatican and a tenacious doggie.
The set pieces are grand—gloriously dumb and never realistic enough to make you wince at the fact that billions of microscopic souls are dying before your eyes. Rather, you wince at everything else: Do we really care about the emotional fissures of a broken suburban family, when only moments earlier they are seen piloting through a collapsing Californian seaboard or an erupting Yellowstone? The worst sins of dialogue are visited upon the wonderfully soulful Chiwetel Ejiofor, who has to remind creepy government types that those massive high-tech arks are for all of us, not just the rich and powerful. The movie, meanwhile, is just for kids.—Joshua Rothkopf
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