After wreaking havoc in “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” director Roland Emmerich adds a third leg to his disaster trilogy with “2012” - an overlong, overindulgent action film that wants to be fun and exciting, but is really rather dull and exhausting.
Running nearly three hours, “2012” goes for an epic feel. The film tells the story of a global catastrophe that destroys the world, leaving a select few survivors.
That list includes a science fiction writer named Jackson (John Cusack) and his ex-wife Kate (Amanda Peet), who race across the globe with their children and Kate’s new husband after they learn of a secret government project that is intended to ensure the continuity of human life.
There are many other subplots and characters that are squeezed in around the action, allowing “2012” to showcase familiar faces like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson and George Segal. It’s the kind of “all-star” cast you would expect in this kind of film (although not quite as eclectic as “The Towering Inferno,” which had everyone from Steve McQueen and Fred Astaire to O.J. Simpson and Dabney Coleman).
For the most part, the cast is OK, even if they are given some rather hokey dialogue to work with. Ejiofer, as a geologist trying to advise the president on the event, probably fares the best, while Platt, who is incredibly overbearing as the White House chief of staff, fares the worst.
The real star of “2012” is the effects, which I admit are quite impressive. The problem, though, is Emmerich goes to the well way too often. The first time a car outruns an earthquake it’s fun, but by the time you have an airplane escape the disaster for the third time it gets monotonous.
It’s at that point I was rooting for the world - and this movie - to come to a screeching halt.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “Star Trek” (B) - director J.J. Abrams’ restart of the popular franchise. This latest entry is fresh and exciting and will please its rabid fan base as well as entertain viewers who don’t know the difference between a Romulan and a Vulcan.
The film returns to the early days of the USS Enterprise, following the rise of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the crew of the famous vessel.
When a Romulan spacecraft captained by a ruthless miner (Eric Bana) emerges through a black hole with plans to destroy every planet in the Federation, the Enterprise is called into action - providing the first test for the young crew.
Abrams, creator of television’s “Lost” and “Alias,” has crafted a fun film with wall-to-wall action, some great special effects and a group of actors more than ready to live up to the lofty heights of the original cast.
Pine channels his inner William Shatner, but puts a fresh and fun spin on Kirk. Quinto makes a worthy Spock, while Karl Urban (as Dr. Leonard McCoy) and Simon Pegg (as chief engineer Scotty) have some funny moments as well.
I was never a big fan of the “Star Trek” series, but I was quite familiar with the franchise thanks to a high school friend who was such a fan, he actually dragged me to a convention in Cleveland in the early ’90s.
I haven’t spoken to that friend in a while, but I’m sure he must be ecstatic with the latest incarnation of the popular franchise. This is a project faithful to its origins (including a couple of nods to “Star Trek” lore that will be appreciated by those with quite specific knowledge) but willing to explore new areas - and bring in a whole new fan base in the process.
“Star Trek” isn’t the best film in the series (I still regard “The Wrath of Khan” as one of my favorite science fiction films), but it is right up there.
“Star Trek” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence and brief sexual content and is now available on DVD.
— Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton is gearing up for the holidays the only way he knows how, by watching lots of movies. For his thoughts on “An Education,” “Pirate Radio” or anything else, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also e-mail him at email@example.com.