Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Video review: "2012"

Prior to its release, people had great fun making sport of the trailers for "2012." That's because the previews fairly represented the film for what it is: A ridiculous, over-the-top disaster movie that exists as its own parody.

The producers got the last laugh. Though "2012" was a modest hit here in the U.S., it banked more than $600 million overseas.

Director Roland Emmerich ("The Day After Tomorrow," "Independence Day") is an old hand at disaster flicks, and piles on what audiences want: Big computer-generated scenes of mayhem, interrupted by weepy human moments where people clutch one another and despair at the earthquakes/tidal waves/meteors rolling in to wipe them out.

John Cusack plays a loser who gets a shot to play hero when he uncovers a conspiracy by world leaders to cover up the fact that the planet's continental plates are about to start smashing into one another, turning the Earth's surface into an upended jigsaw puzzle.

He gathers up his ex-wife and kids, facing gaping chasms, falling buildings, crashing airplanes and much more in their quest to survive.

It's tremendously silly stuff, but also terrifically entertaining if you don't take it too seriously.
Extra features vary widely according to the video format.

The DVD version comes with an alternate ending, deleted scenes, Adam Lambert's "Time for Miracles" music video, featurette on Emmerich's history with disaster flicks, and a commentary track by Emmerich and co/writer Harald Kloser.

Among other things in the commentary, they reveal that the role of the U.S. president was written as a woman, but when Barack Obama started doing well in the Democratic primaries they switched it to an African-American role, played by Danny Glover.

A single-disc Blu-ray version includes the commentary, alternate ending and a picture-in-picture feature of additional comments and footage with cast and crew.

The two-disc Blu-ray includes all the features listed above, plus several more.

There's a Mayan calendar including a horoscope function, featurettes covering the science behind the destruction, production design and actors' perspective, and a digital copy of the film.

Movie: 3.5 stars
Extras: 3.5 stars

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