Shoulda Been 2020

Calling movies “roller coasters” isn’t meant literally. 2012 missed that. It’s equivalent to a theme park special attraction, in 3D, with rocking seats as visitors pretend to be inside a plane squeezing between the destruction of collapsing skyscrapers. Absurd, but in that context, it’s the point. In this movie, John Cusack climbs from the volcanic ashes in a visual so ludicrous, not even disaster movie parodies like Airplane went so far.

2012 doesn’t seem to know what its intentions are. On one side, a divorced Cusack dealing with his ex and kids in a hammy, traditional genre soap opera. It’s played with a slight wink and mild sarcasm. Then the other end, dramatically serious pro-and-con government theatrics, with a somber Danny Glover as President, and selfish Oliver Platt in the villain seat.

It’s like 2012 forgot the Cold War ended when Rocky beat Drago

If there’s a point, 2012 will inevitably ruin it. Woody Harrelson pops up in a gloriously overplayed bit part as an anti-government conspiracy theorist (and he’s right about everything) and Platt’s insufferable arrogance depicts leaders in this for themselves – or profit. As a tidal wave approaches Washington D.C., it’s the nation’s own military hardware smashing through the White House, turning militarism against the USA.

But no, 2012 isn’t going all-in on bashing Congress or world leaders. The plan works – building preposterous floating arks to save humanity from ocean waters, somehow in secret as undoubtedly millions of construction workers stayed silent. For this plot, the good guys relent and announce the looming devastation; the others continue the secrecy. Overall, the world unites in this goal, ending in peace because calamity brings people together. Or, most of them. Not the Russians. It’s like 2012 forgot the Cold War ended when Rocky beat Drago.

Yet solidarity seems implausible considering 2012 depicts nearly every other country aside from America as impoverished or wacky. In Tibet, there’s only a lone village where a mother slaughters a chicken, the laugh intended to be people cruelly living off the land. How dare the poor lack factories. Roland Emmerich never gave up this shtick, like in Independence Day when tribes cheered in a show of bizarre fealty after the American President blew up a saucer. 2012’s equal comes when scientist Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a passionate speech to let additional people into the ark. Only the USA’s heroes show empathy; the others need convincing. Team American: World Police was more subtle.

Video

The 2K source isn’t going to make much difference upscaled… but… Sony’s HDR pass is a monster. Peak brightness is blindingly bright, ridiculous even. From the opening shot of sun flares to other fires, exterior light (or any other light), they all reach brilliant intensity. To test peak nits, 2012 is one of those discs.

A light layer of noise barely factors in. All-digital material shows near total clarity, and the encode is transparent. Bland sharpness doesn’t show much of anything, but it’s more than passable considering the lower resolution source. In that, 2012 doesn’t offer visual punch. Texture merely lags, if still delivering facial definition when in close.

Typically warm color makes this appealing to the eye, lifting primaries, and not ignoring cooler tones like the blue skylines. Strong shadow density adds to their richness through the contrast. Primaries stand out, bold enough without appearing oversaturated.

Audio

In Atmos, the massive action doesn’t miss anything. If anything, it’s almost too much when considering ambiance. Helicopters swing overhead, forest animals fill the soundstage, and military bases become hyper-active. However, it’s fun, suited to the chaos in such a crazed disaster movie.

When chaos hits, dust/smoke rushes into stereos, rears, and heights. A shaking house rattles and cracks, filling every speaker. It’s admirable intensity. Running from the big quake in a limo, debris flies around the roof, creating a convincing interior effect. Inside a cargo plane, it’s better yet. Flood waters and tidal waves successfully send liquid rushing in a truly spectacular way.

While the bass does deliver power, it’s not a strict, tight effect. Rumbling, but a little flat when compared to other mighty blockbusters like Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Weight isn’t there, or rather not enough of it. Isolated on its own, 2012 leaves a mark. When competing in this market though, the flaccid LFE can’t generate enough strength.

Extras

The UHD holds a Discovery Channel documentary on the Mayan prediction. Also inside the case is the same two-disc Blu-ray set from before, the first containing a commentary from Roland Emmerich and co-writer Harold Kloser. Emmerich also takes center stage in a picture-in-picture track. A ridiculous alternate ending actually stretches credibility further.

Disc two provides an Interactive Mayan Calendar. Designing the End of the World is a nearly half hour look at the visual effects, and how they were created. Science Behind the Destruction offers some thoughts on how this was all possible, but it is a stretch regardless. Another featurette is a fluff piece about Emmerich titled Master of the Modern Epic.

Countdown to Destruction is a debate on the possibilities of 2012 actually bringing an end to humanity (and a wee bit dated now). End of the World: An Actor’s Perspective is a collection of interviews with the cast about their roles. This runs for about eight minutes. A featurette on a music video (and the video itself) is the finale piece.

2012
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

More an attempt to create a ludicrous theme park ride than movie, 2012’s absurdities, stock characters, and lengthy runtime make this a bloated, empty spectacle.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 60 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: