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Shakespeare it is not, but 2012 ($40) is one dilly of a disaster movie. Co-writer/director Roland Emmerich is the undisputed king of this type of special effects laden affair, and with 2012, he certainly pulls out all of the stops. I have to admit that a number of the sequences contained in 2012 are just jaw dropping in their complexity and apocalyptic beauty. Certainly, the plot of 2012 doesn’t break any new ground, other than its semi-fresh idea of using the Mayan Callender to predict the year that the world will end. For the most part, 2012 borrow ideas pretty freely from disaster movies of the past, but the spit shine of state of the art special effects certainly makes all the destruction seem pretty fresh, even with its obvious nods to films like WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, EARTHQUAKE and THE POSIEDEN ADVENTURE. Sure, there are moments that are utterly preposterous/ludicrous, but that is just the nature of the disaster movie beast. Of course, if you are like me and love big budget, action packed disaster epics, then grab yourself a big bucket of buttered popcorn, sit down in your most comfortable chair and get ready to lose yourself for two and a half hours of utterly preposterous and ludicrous fun.

2012 actually opens in 2009, with American geologist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) traveling to India, where he learns from a colleague that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are causing the temperature of the Earth's core to increase rapidly. Armed with the information, Helmsley returns to Washington, D.C., where he informs White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt) and US President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover) of the pending disaster. The film then segues through a brief series of vignettes that alludes to a massive, super-secret international project intended to ensure the survival of a portion of the human, while the majority of humanity is left in the dark about the pending apocalyptic disaster.

When we arrive in 2012, we are introduced to unsuccessful Los Angeles author and limousine driver Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), who is picking up his children from ex-wife Kate (Amanda Peet) to take them on a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. In Yellowstone, Jackson encounters conspiracy theorist Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson), who alerts him to the fact that the Mayans predicted the world would come to an end in 2012, plus he claims to have a map to the location of a secret project designed to save a handful of humanity. Although initially dismissive Charlie’s apocalyptic predictions, the evidence begins to mount that the end of the world is rapidly approaching, with Jackson beginning to taking steps to save himself and his family… just as the world literally begins to crumble all around them. The cast of 2012 also features Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Zlatko Burić, Morgan Lily, Liam James, John Billingsley, Thomas McCarthy, Beatrice Rosen, Johann Urb, Chin Han, Osric Chau, Blu Mankuma, George Segal, Stephen McHattie and Patrick Bauchau.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made 2012 available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Shot with the Panavision Genesis cameras, 2012 makes for an outstanding1080p presentation on Blu-ray. End to end digital works to the advantage of the production, allowing for fairly seamless integration of numerous CGI elements, while maintaining a crisp and consistent looking image. Image sharpness, dimensionality and fine detail are generally quite impressive, with excellent texturing, plus things like individual hairs and inconsistencies in the actor’s skin are readily apparent. Colors are fully saturated and reproduced without flaws. Additionally, the flesh tones come across in an exceedingly pleasing manner. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus the contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is also pretty terrific. The elements from which 2012 has been mastered are free from imperfections. A light veneer of grain/noise is present in the picture, which gives the image a seemingly organic flavor.

2012 is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Sonically, 2012 is even more impressive than it is visually. To support the apocalyptic onscreen action, 2012 features a highly aggressive sound design places the viewer in the middle of a sonic maelstrom of a world crumbling around their listening position. Additionally, other bits of sonic information come at the viewer from all sides, while panning across the soundstage without effort. Fidelity is astounding, both the music and sound effects are tremendously reproduced. The bass channel is effective and remarkably deep, with all the expected ground shaking and percussive force for numerous explosions, impacts and collapsing cities. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains very good intelligibility. A French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English and French.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, which are spread across the set. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with co-writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser. Next is Picture-in-Picture: Roland's Vision, which offers a pop-up box of video comments and interviews with cast and crew, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage. An Alternate Ending and Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements on disc one. 2012 is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Sony’s MovieIQ feature is available through BD-Live, which provides the viewer access to a continuously updated database of additional information about the film, its cast, crew and soundtrack, as well as other trivia.

Moving on to disc two, one will find even more supplemental materials. First up is an Interactive Mayan Calendar, which provides various programs tied to the Mayans. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Designing The End Of The World (twenty six minutes), Roland Emmerich: The Master Of The Modern Epic (ten minutes), Science Behind The Destruction (thirteen minutes), The End Of The World: The Actor's Perspective (eight minutes) and Countdown To The Future (twenty two minutes). Also included is a Music Video for the song Time For Miracles by Adam Lambert, as well as a Making Of the music video. More Bonus Trailers close out the supplements. On disc two, a Digital Copy of the film is also provided for those with a PSP. Disc three offers a Digital Copy for the PC and ITunes.

As I stated above, 2012 is one dilly of a disaster movie. The Blu-ray presentation is pure eye and ear candy. Highly recommended to those who enjoy this type of treat with buckets of hot buttered popcorn.



2012 (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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