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2012 (2009)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast : John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor

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Synopsis; Dr. Adrian Helmsley, part of a worldwide geophysical team investigating the effect on the earth of radiation from unprecedented solar storms, learns that the earth’s core is heating up. He warns U.S. President Thomas Wilson that the crust of the earth is becoming unstable and that without proper preparations for saving a fraction of the world’s population, the entire race is doomed. Meanwhile, writer Jackson Curtis stumbles on the same information. While the world’s leaders race to build “arks” to escape the impending cataclysm, Curtis struggles to find a way to save his family. Meanwhile, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes of unprecedented strength wreak havoc around the world.

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Watch 2012 Full Movie: Who knew the end of the world could be such a bummer? In “2012,” the first and certainly not the last big-studio bid to cash in on the supposed coming apocalypse, Roland Emmerich once again lays waste to Earth and its assorted famous landmarks, but this time it’s with a touch of exhaustion, an almost routine finality. Maybe it’s middle age (it’s his first apocalypse since he turned 50). Or, maybe, it’s because to a consummate destroyer of worlds (four doomsdays and counting), the true end of days is really just the final dreary step. Few images, after all, beat that of the California coast crumbling into the ocean like a sinking aircraft carrier, or of the subsequent barrage of flaming volcanic rock that pummels the earth when Yellowstone finally goes kaput, blowing its literal top and the audience’s already torpid movie-going mind.

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Watch 2012 Full Movie: Both of those sequences are given high prominence in “2012,” though neither is predicted by the end of the Mesoamerican long-count calendar, from which this movie takes its name if not much else. Weaving escapist fantasy into scientific fact has long been the prerogative of high-concept vehicles like “2012,” which omit most of the finer factual details (the Mayans never actually wrote of the end of the world, for starters) to make their own pseudoscientific conceits appear frighteningly plausible. That may explain why “2012” takes a nominally more scientific approach to the cataclysm (neutrinos, crust displacement, blah, blah, blah), though even Chiwetel Ejiofor, as the president’s scientific adviser, seems to know that it’s all one big joke long before Woody Harrelson, as some sort of apocalyptic hippie fanatic, can pop his eyeballs and declare, “It’s the apocalypse, man!”

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Watch 2012 Full Movie: Mr. Harrelson’s character doesn’t figure much into the story beyond the usual wise fool archetype, though at least his bug-eyed mugging gives oomph to what is otherwise a pretty unremarkable disaster flick. The real selling point of “2012” is, of course, the annihilation of our planet and most of our species, and, if nothing else, the destruction here can hardly be called boring. That’s to be expected, seeing that Mr. Emmerich is certainly an old hand in the industry, having already vaporized, trampled, flooded and frozen the planet solid, not to mention raked in a collective ten-figure sum at the domestic box office. Considering the worldwide scale of “2012” and Mr. Emmerich’s incurable tendency to one-up himself, it’s also no surprise that here he works so relentlessly to cover all his catastrophic bases, from the pulverization of the Vatican to the inundation of D.C., to the purely extraneous sight of a cruise ship keeling over, Paul Gallico-style, upending the galley and its many digitally- rendered flailing human bodies.

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Watch 2012 Full Movie: But, seriously, what’s the point anymore? Like most apocalyptic trifles, “2012” trades on the doomsday scenario to stake the usual forgettable claims at the resilience of the human spirit (and the American nuclear family) but mostly it just wants to watch the world burn, sometimes literally. The human race is ending, after all, and if that end never really resonates in “2012,” it’s because not even Mr. Emmerich seems interested in examining it beyond the visceral level. Although he duly taps his emotional well by occasionally bringing you close to the calamity – the tiny human bodies tumbling from a collapsing freeway are certainly frightening – it’s hard to feel awed by or even care at all about any of it when all the man wants to do (and wants us to do) is have a good time.

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Watch 2012 Full Movie: “2012” is a pretty much a romp, then, and, for its first ruinous hour at least, a reasonably satisfying one. The sturdy B-movie screenplay by Mr. Emmerich and Harold Kloser actually picks up in 2009, giving time to introduce a few of the leading men and women who will figure into the imminent end, some of them likable (Mr. Ejiofor), others abhorrent (Oliver Platt as a blustering government bigwig), most of them just plain boring. Three years later, as the cracks in the Earth and the story become wider and more worrisome, more people come into play, in this case an everyfamily (John Cusack, Amanda Peet and their two burdensome children) we’re meant to follow while modern civilization crumbles around them, in increasingly spectacular ways.

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Watch 2012 Full Movie: But the spectacle wears off and the movie soon drags, done in when Mr. Emmerich’s exuberant flair for devastation gives way to his seriously underwhelming affinity for family soap operatics and teary moments of worldwide harmony. Part of the problem with movies like “2012” is that even with the latest brand of pricey computer-generated effects at their disposal, such wizardry tends to undercut itself when you stop and realize that almost none of what you’re seeing is really there, really happening. Mr. Emmerich is not entirely to blame, of course, though it’s nonetheless a wonder that after three stabs at destroying the planet, he still can’t avoid the disconnect between human tragedy and worldwide destruction that runs through “2012” like a fissure and keeps even its most realistic-looking disasters from ever feeling remotely real. Which may make it the perfect tonic to this particular ploy of the paranoia market.

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