I'm finding that sitting down to write this review reminds me a lot of sitting down in front of my TurboTax program on April 14th. I've put it off as long as I can, so it's time to just suck it up and deal with the pain, knowing that a shot of something strong is waiting on the other end.
If you think that you can guess what I thought about the movie with that opening line...you are probably right.
As I drove home from the abomination that was Roland Emmerich's latest THE WORLD IS OVER!!! "spectacular", I was thinking that I had found THE Worst Movie of the Decade. This was the one bit of good that came from the three hours I wasted in the theater (the 20 minutes of previews and commercials also sucked), as I had my "winner" for my "Best and Worst of the Decade" article that will come out at the end of the year.
And then I remembered that 2008 brought us M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening".
Trying to contemplate which of those two movies sucked worse was a process remarkably similar to contemplating which defense was worse in Sunday's game between the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions. Or debating who is better looking; Amy Winehouse or Rosie O' Donnell. What would you prefer, Sir; a root canal or a colonoscopy? The depression was too much, and the only cure was to stop at the local Buffalo Wild Wings a quarter mile from the theater to try to relieve the pain with copious amounts of alcohol.
I will leave the final debate of "Who Sucketh the Most" for a later date. For now, let's talk about just how boring the extermination of mankind really can be, along with why Roland Emmerich should not be allowed near a CGI computer ever again. To sum it up briefly, the movie is ridiculously long, ridiculously boring, ridiculously written, ridiculously acted, and ridiculously ridiculous. The ONE semi-decent thing about the movie is the special effects, but even they become totally redundant and boring. I'm sorry...but after the THIRD time I saw John Cusack in a plane trying to race down another runway that was crumbling beneath them as they tried to achieve takeoff speed, I was hoping for engine failure.
Cusack is a great actor, who is completely wasted in this mess, along with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt, and Thandie Newton. Sure...they try to say their lines with some level of dignity and seriousness, but the lines are so lame that they couldn't have been remotely interesting had Olivier, Brando, and Paul Newman been reciting them.
Plot? There is absolutely zero plot. The Mayans were right; the world is coming to an end in 2012. Something about the planets all lining up in a row that gets the sun all riled up, and it starts shooting out enough neutrinos to melt the Earth's core, causing massive earthquakes, super volcanoes, and Himalayan size tsunamis. Ejiofor's super geologist character Dr. Helmsley figures it out in the first five minutes, and within ten minutes all the world's leaders are on board with it, and take to a massive project to save a small portion of humanity (along with a huge portion of art).
(Well, to be fair...the Mayans weren't right, as they ended up missing the exact date by several months...a nice little cheat by Emmerich that allows him to add more chaos. This shouldn't surprise anyone, as Emmerich laughably ignored science, reality, and common sense in "The Day After Tomorrow" and "10,000 B.C.")
Now had the movie actually concentrated on the effort to save the human species; the politics, the science, the moral choices involved, it might have been worth watching. But that's not what we get. Instead, Emmerich chooses to steal a page from Steven Spielberg in "War of the Worlds" and show us the End of Times through the eyes of one family. And just like "War of the Worlds", it's a single father with a surly son and a screaming daughter. But to change things up, Emmerich adds the man's ex-wife and her new boyfriend, as if we are supposed to care one iota about their soap opera level problems when everyone else on the planet is dying.
Which to me was the biggest distraction of the movie; Emmerich didn't have any real demonstration of profound loss, grief, and despair from any of the characters in contemplating the end of ALL life on the planet...they were too busy rushing from one moronic escape (driving a limo through a falling building) to another (driving an old RV over a 40 foot crevice).
This was such a big miss on this movie, as you needed something more to cheer for than the survival of these four people. In other big budget disaster movies like "War of the Worlds", "Armageddon", or even two of Emmerich's earlier works "Independence Day" or "The Day After Tomorrow", there is at least that HOPE of survival of the planet, and hence a rooting interest. Here? Nope...it's a foregone conclusion that the Earth is a goner...Enjoy!
This plot device also deprives the audience of something to root against; even if is an inanimate object like an incoming asteroid. Consequently, Emmerich tries to make somewhat a villain out of the governments (especially the United States) who have been building the survival ships, killing anyone who threatens to leak the truth, and then selling spaces on the ships for one billion Euros each. Which gives the audience a paradox...how do you root for the survival of humans as a species when the selection process and the events around the assurance of said survival was done in such an unethical manner?
Due to all of this, the movie can only be looked upon as mildly entertaining in brief spurts: The effects are often quite impressive (until they start getting totally over-done), and there are a few interesting little moments; which pretty much end when Woody Harrelson's character bites the dust. Woody plays a crazed prophet; spouting out his dead-on conspiracy theories from his vantage point in Yellowstone Park, right under the noses of all the government officials stationed at the site where the biggest super volcano will erupt. Seems the government can knock off all of the other whistle-blowers, but can't quite figure out what to do with Woody. But at least Woody had fun, as his long hair and beard fit his attitude perfectly, and you could tell he enjoyed filming his brief role.
For the others? You could almost see it in their eyes that they knew they had made a bad decision in signing onto this mess. They can only hope that this movie might reach some level of "so-bad-it's-good" cult status at some point.
But I can't see me ever willingly wanting to watch this movie again, even just to analyze if cult-hood might be in the cards. For I can honestly say that if the End of the World means no more movies like this...I'm all for it.
My rating: Spergon Wynn (Zero Footballs)