Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2012: A Review

The movie 2012 is one of the most chauvinistic movies I've seen in a very long time. Every main character in the movie that does anything other than looking after children and/or dogs is either a man or a boy. That's right; boys have more guts than women in this movie. Women's role is that of a prop: to scream, to worry, or to show their man how much they need their problem solving abilities and how grateful they are that their man is there for them even when he has to abandon them so that they can get things done.

The entire movie is a continuous litany of powerful men making life and death decisions or giving fatherly authoritative advice to youngsters: presidents, prime ministers, buddhist monks, etc. There is one token female prime minister which, as you may have guessed, is from some European country. I guess in its defense people would say that the movie is simply simply portraying the world we live in today, and while it is true that we live in a male dominated society, this movie takes such a state of affairs to an extreme that can only be characterized as misogynistic. For example, in one of the final airplane scenes the "boys," as grown men are referred to in this movie, are repeatedly summoned to the cockpit so that they can make the tough decisions away from women and children.

Another theme glorified in the movie is the role of the absent but for good reason father figure. This "sorry, but I got work to do" figure is exemplified in a scene where John Cusack tells his family that they will all sit together embracing each other until the plane they happen to be on lands safely. As he is uttering his last words, he gets summoned once more to the boys' room (the cockpit), and so he zaps away reneging on what he had just promised his wife and children a minute before. In a subsequent scene, Cusack talks to his son before embarking in a life or death mission. As he leaves, he tells his son that as long as he knows that his son is watching over his ex wife and daughter, he is confident they will be safe; in so many words, Cusack's character believes that his ex wife is not capable of taking care of herself, let alone their children.

Without need of going through every chauvinistic example, I would also like to mention the disturbing religious overtones that permeate this movie. In line with its male supremacy bent, all the religious figures depicted in the movie are, not surprisingly, men: buddhist monks, the pope, etc. Now, I understand that a movie about the end of the world must have some religious references, but as far as this movie is concerned, these religious figures seem to be there mainly to underlie a Christian male dominated worldview, with masses of clueless and frightened people needing to be led by strong, resourceful, yet compassionate elderly men. And while I don't wish to spoil the movie for anyone, let me just say that the ending is plucked right out of the Old Testament.

In conclusion, I really can't find a reason to recommend this movie other than as an example of the sorry state of today's Hollywood blockbusters. With movies like these, it's no surprise people don't go to the movies anymore. The underlying messages are horribly reactionary and unavoidably in your face; the special effects are overly digital and subpar overall; the acting is stiff and prosaic; and the plot is extremely predictable and uninteresting.

I went to see 2012 hoping to see something along the lines of Independence Day or even the not as good but still entertaining The Day After Tomorrow. Instead, I almost ended up walking out of the theater so that I could go home and watch the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves on HBO On Demand. Not such a good movie either, but still far superior to this one. In the end, I opted for watching the entire movie, so that I could write this review and warn those of you who may be tempted to see it to save your money and, most importantly, your time. Unlike me, you still have a choice.

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