November 13, 2009 at 8:47 am

Tom Long: Film Review: '2012' -- GRADE: C

Review: Apocalyptic '2012' offers up efficiently awful doomsday

John Cusack manages several near-escapes in "2012." (Columbia Pictures)

There are disaster movies and there are movies which are disasters. Somewhat surprisingly, "2012" is more the first than the latter.

True, it's a big, mindless, cheese ball compilation of clichés, special effects, breathtaking escapes, maddening coincidences and explosions, explosions, explosions.

Beyond that, it's probably the largest-scale snuff film ever made, offering audiences nonstop scene after scene in which thousands of human lives are lost. Tiny ant people fall from crumbling skyscrapers, run about panicked on freeways, stand helpless awaiting annihilation as tidal wave after tidal wave hits land.

Yep, that's entertainment. But the cold hard truth is, that is entertainment these days.

The top film so far this year is the similarly destructive "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Moral considerations and human suffering be damned, let's ride the roller coaster.

The ride here is appropriately harrowing. In "2012," apocalyptically minded writer-director Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow") finally gets to destroy virtually all of civilization.

This happens because extreme solar flares are heating up the Earth's core, causing continents to suddenly shift.

Once Emmerich establishes divorced dad John Cusack and a few other characters, he promptly starts his destructo machine, and for the next full hour mankind gets hammered as the Cusack clan manages a parade of near escapes.

To where? Why, to the secret group of gargantuan arks that have been prepared for this day, though only billionaires and celebrities need apply for seating.

Emmerich follows the familiar story arc here -- devastation, perseverance, hope, salvation -- and many of the scenes seem airlifted out of his previous films.

But "2012" actually flows better than anything he's made in a decade, predictable and reprehensible as it may be. This is fear-mongering, sentimental, horror show shtick, but it's also fairly competent, making "2012" a work of awful efficiency.

As roller-coaster rides go, it is sadly on track.

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Can you feel it?

You will if you go to Emagine Theatre in Canton Township, 39535 Ford Road. The theater will unveil 12 D-BOX motion seats in auditorium Number 2, as part of today's release of "2012."
It will be one of only 10 movie theaters in the world to feature this motion-seat technology, says Guy Marcoux, director of marketing for D-BOX. The motion seats are designed to be in sync with the action on the screen, Marcoux says. "People will feel like they are in the movie, but it is not about jolting you around," he says. Think of driving in a car and feeling little bumps in the road, he explains.
There are plans to gradually increase the number of D-BOX motion seats, depending on audience demand, Marcoux adds. The cost of the seat is $8 in addition to the regular movie ticket. To reserve a seat, call (888) 319-3456 or visit www.emagine-entertainment.com.
Ursula Watson

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