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2012 (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray] by Directed by Roland Emmerich
Review by Charles Mohapel
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B001OQCV2O
Date: 24 April 2010 List Price $39.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: IMDB.com / Show Official Info /

Whether you think Roland Emmerich has taken on the mantle as "The Master of Disaster" from Irwin Allen, or you think that the world will really come to an end at the Winter Solstice on December 21, 2012 as prophesied by the Mayans, Emmerich's 2009 film 2012 will give you something to think about if that suits you. Or you can suspend your sense of disbelief and watch a movie that would have been better suited to summer release and enjoyed with a large bucket of popcorn and a soda.

Directed by Roland Emmerich
Writers (WGA): Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser (written by)

Cast (Cast overview, first billed only):
John Cusack ... Jackson Curtis
Amanda Peet ... Kate Curtis
Chiwetel Ejiofor... Adrian Helmsley
Thandie Newton ... Laura Wilson
Oliver Platt ... Carl Anheuser
Thomas McCarthy ... Gordon Silberman (as Tom McCarthy)
Woody Harrelson ... Charlie Frost
Danny Glover ... President Thomas Wilson
Liam James ... Noah Curtis
Morgan Lily ... Lilly Curtis
Zlatko Buric ... Yuri Karpov
Beatrice Rosen ... Tamara
Alexandre Haussmann... Alec
Philippe Haussmann... Oleg
Johann Urb ... Sasha

The big story in Roland Emmerich's film 2012 is that a major jump in sunspot activity is leading up to a cataclysm on Earth that will wipe out almost all life on Earth at the end of 2012. Humanity will have to set aside its petty bickering and actually cooperate to save the best and brightest of Humankind and its greatest artistic treasures, as well as what appears to be breeding pairs of every species on Earth. The small story-within-a-story features Jackson Curtis, a struggling Science Fiction writer who has become estranged from his wife Kate to the point where his young son Noah and daughter Lilly look up to his wife's successful steady boyfriend Gordon Silberman - Curtis's son calls him Jackson to his face. In order to survive, Curtis now works as a limo driver for Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov, his obnoxious brat twin sons, and his 20-something trophy Russian girlfriend Tamara.

I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to a point and not look too hard at the holes in the science. However I draw the line at believing that leaders of the world's major nations will work together in secret on giant arks to save the cream of Humanity. Believing that the wealthiest people in the world could buy their way onto the arks for a cool 1 billion Euros apiece - that part was easy.

You can watch 2012 by itself, with movieIQ (an online database that requires your Blu-ray player to be connected to the Internet), or with Commentary with Writer/Director Roland Emmerich and Co-Writer Harald Kloser. Personally I found the commentary to be very low key, a surprising fact given how very animated Emmerich is in the other featurettes. Maybe he's just more animated during filming than he is doing audio commentary. That said, I learned that the external scenes that were representing India were shot in Vancouver, BC, Canada, while the Tibet scenes were were shot in Kamloops, BC. The scene where giant plates of Los Angeles slid into the Pacific cost Emmerich a case of champagne given to Production Designer Barry Chusid for a superb job.

Enjoyable but not for everyone. In addition to a subtle reference to North By Northwest, "We're going to need a bigger plane" was a tribute to "We're going to need a bigger boat" from Jaws. Not content with having the alien invaders on Independence day blow up the White House, this time around Emmerich had a tsunami carry the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) and drop it on top of the White House.

I found the alternate ending to be hilarious and while the original ending they ended up using was upbeat, the odds on the alternate ending actually happening would be difficult to calculate.

Of all the trailers on Disc 1, the The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is typical Terry Gilliam and looks like a lot of fun.

As with movieIQ, BD-Live also requires your Blu-ray player to be connected to the Internet.

Initially the "Interactive Mayan Calendar" was fun, but the novelty wore off quickly for me.

"Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar" with Lawrence E. Joseph was mildly interesting and entertaining, but nothing more than that.

Of the five deleted scenes, the two I wish had made it into the film were "Something must have gone wrong" where Carl Anheuser crosses the line and deservedly get punched out by Adrian Helmsley. "Anheuser Apologizes" dovetails nicely with the Alternate Ending.

"Designing the End of the World" was my favorite feature since it showed how the special effects were achieved. If the scene is a large one, it's CGI - if it's on a smaller scale, it's visual effects. The physics-based software was so cool, as was the nitrogen cannon used to fire cars up to 300 feet away.

"Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic" tells us how Emmerich likes the epic disaster films since they occur on a grand scale, but are filled with smaller stories about how everyday people fight to survive.

In "Science Behind The Destruction", the credibility of the speakers varies greatly. John Platt (USC Professor of Earth Sciences) speaks of how he talked them out of the silly ideas, but offered scenarios that were believable even though they were extremely unlikely. Patrick Geryl is an author/survivalist. Author Daniel Pinchbeck fails to convince me that he is credible. Emmerich's films are a blend of Science Fiction and Science Fact.

"The End Of The World: The Actor's Perspective" was a fun featurette.

In "Countdown to the Future' with Daniel Pinchbeck, Lawrence Joseph, Patrick Geryl, Don Carlos Barrios (Mayan Shaman), and Dr. Friedmann Freund (Professor of Physics, San Jose State University), it is the Mayan Shaman, the physics professor, and the journalist who come across as the most credible speakers.

Of all the previews, the only one that excited me was Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: Thirtieth Anniversary Ultimate Edition on DVD and Blu-ray, and it was released in November 2007.

Simply put, 2012 is not for everyone and makes no claim to being such. But if you enjoy fast paced action and mayhem on an epic scale, and aren't too picky about all the inconsistencies, incongruities, and implausibilities, then give 2012 a close look.

One final thing to consider - if you live in Canada, the Two-Disc Special Edition of 2012 on Blu-ray actually includes a 3rd disc with a Digital Copy for PC, Mac, or iPod. It's available through Amazon.ca with the ASIN OF B003188AJG. http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=B003188AJG&x=0&y=0 .

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