Genre: Apocalyptic Action Adventure
Starring: John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Eijerfor
Director: Roland Emmerich
Lets for the sake of argument ignore that the entire initial premise of this is pretty much a load of bollocks; that the Mayans predicted the end of anything except their calender (though that was only one throwaway line admittedly) or that the sun will ever randomly decide to start firing mutated neutrino's - whatever the hell they meant by that - that act like microwaves but only to the earths core, and not the surface. Lets gloss over this plot that a remedial high schooler could pick apart and move right on to all the other problems with this film that ought to be mentioned.
It follows the story of a number of people; a limo driver for a Russian Billionnaire - his daughter sporting an accent so bad it borders on the offensive - and their families, one of which who discovers the secret thanks to a madman in the woods called Charlie whose ramblings about space are just a stroke short of claiming it was all aliens. There's also the required tale of the scientist who made the discovery, the 'Jeff Goldblum' from 'Independance Day' who gets to play the good guy trying to save the world, in this case played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who delivered one of the only good performances - Woody Harrelson perhaps being the only other exception - speaking about the nature of humanity in a way that would almost make you stop and think if the writers had given him a line that actually meant anything and a setting that wasn't quite so ridiculous, and I seriously hope he was well paid for this blemish on his career.
The rest of the plot is, well there is none. It's a combination of melodrama, bad puns and a CGI enthusiast's wet dream. In fairness, the effects are often quite impressively done from a technical standpoint, demonstrating they had no shortage of money to toss into their laps, each time a distance shot of some landmark toppling over, exploding nonsensically, sinking, or otherwise being destroyed. Something like a dozen such landmarks get demolished, each time in a similar looking fashion using whatever method they established looked good enough from a distance.
What should have been the focus, and indeed is the critical component of such films is the human aspect; when the end of the world approaches, how people react, sharing their final moments with loved ones, people coming together as one or abusing the ensuing chaos to benefit themselves. This is the tale that makes such apocalyptic films so powerful to watch, and how well they balance the severity of the situation with the melodrama; coming off as tense but ultimately realistic, finding the joy in the little things, and the strength to persevere onwards. Not a man looking at a screen going 'this is the new reason we're all fucked' every 5 minutes before cutting to the next scene of explosions, and near misses, at best showing some cliche shot meant to show that the characters give a crap about each other, as if to say 'we know what we should have done but blowing shit up is more fun.'
It can't decide whether it wants to be serious or - as I suspect some of the writers thought it was intended to be - a joke, with little puns such as a running gag about a pilot who isn't actually a pilot. They aren't particularly amusing but certainly seem a lot more fitting than trying to go for a sense of mass drama despite in hollywood style, nobody we're meant to really care about dying and everyone we're meant to care about surviving through long sequences of one-in-a-million miracles, crazy idea's and a healthy dose of luck. I spent half the film waiting for R.E.M. to jump out and start singing 'It's the End of the World as We Know it,' signifying that the director isn't this talentless; that he didn't accidentally wipe his ass with so many dollar bills and hire an all star cast for anything less than the most elaborate 2 and a half hour joke Hollywood has ever devised, a true 'gotcha' moment that would spin you around, make you realise that it was intended to be this bad from the very beginning. Alas, this moment never came. Yup, it's pretty bad...