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We were warned...that this film was not going to be good!
Genre: Sci-Fi
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Produced By: Harald Kloser
Mark Gordon
Larry J. Franco
Written By: Harald Kloser
Roland Emmerich
Starring: John Cusack
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Amanda Peet
Oliver Platt
Thandie Newton
Danny Glover
Woody Harrelson
Photography: Dean Semler
Distributed By: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: November 13, 2009
Runtime: 158 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $200 million
Box Office: $769.7 million
Sequel: 2013 (cancelled)

2012 is a 2009 American epic science fiction disaster film directed by Roland Emmerich. It was produced by Harald Kloser, Mark Gordon, and Larry J. Franco, and written by Kloser and Emmerich. The film stars John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt, Thandiwe Newton, Danny Glover, and Woody Harrelson. The film follows a family struggling to keep themselves alive when a series of global catastrophes threatens to annihilate mankind.


In the year 2012, the billions of inhabitants are unaware that the planet of Earth has an expiration date on December 21, 2012. With the warnings of an American scientist, world leaders begin secret preparations for the survival of select members of society. When the global cataclysm finally occurs, failed writer Jackson Curtis tries to lead his family to safety as the world starts falling apart.

Bad Qualities

  1. The biggest problem is that it was based on the now terribly outdated Mayan calendar prophecy of the "End of the world in 2012", which as we know, ended up being false after 12/21/2012 happened and the world was still going.
    • However, the film is supposed to be set on december 2012, even though there is a presence of things that existed in 2009, making the title somewhat misleading.
  2. It's pretty much yet another generic and forgettable disaster film that heavily relies on the over-the-top action sequences and visual effects, even more so than either the story, plot, or any character growth or development.
  3. It tries so hard to be fun and exciting but fails in doing so, ending up becoming rather dull and exhausting.
  4. The setting is supposed to be based on the real world, yet there is barely any logic in this movie, with the family being able to survive underwater in the ark for over three minutes, despite how the average human being is only able to survive underwater for only three minutes without dying due to a lack of oxygen[1].
    • On top of that, it also suffers from several extremely exaggerated and outlandishly unrealistic geographical and geological errors, all of which are nonsensical, with the climax showing a rather large tsunami flooding the Himalayas, and after the waters recede, the Drakensberg mountains are now the tallest mountain range in the world, even though the Earth could run out of water if that were to occur, and the tsunami could easily flood the Drakensberg mountains as well.
    • It is supposed to be set during December 21, 2012, almost around the time of Christmas, but for some strange reason, there are no Christmas decorations set up, there is a lack of snow in Yellowstone National Park, among other things.
    • After the Ark 4 engines start, clouds of soot emit from the exhaust stacks, implying that the engines are diesel-powered; requiring a ship designed to survive an apocalyptic flood, with no set duration to how long it may be at sea, to rely on such a limited consumable as diesel fuel would be an incredibly poor design choice.
  5. The film only involves the family was trying to find a way to escape the end of the world in December 2012, but after the climax, the rest of the movie boils down to into more than two hours of filler, in which barely anything is going on throughout the movie, at all.
  6. There are several internal inconsistencies and contradictions throughout the film:
    • An officer claims that all global ground communication has ceased, yet Dr. Satnam Tsurutani is somehow able to call Dr. Helmsley to warn him about the tsunami.
    • Jackson removes the strap holding the Bentley's front tire in place, but he never removes the strap from the back tire; it is still in place when Gordon gets in the car; it is never explained how they were able to leave if this were the case.
    • Much is made of the engines being non-functional while a door is open, with there being no explanation as to why the vessel would have been designed or built that way; in fact, it would require engine power to repeatedly close and open the doors, as well as power all the electronic and hydraulic systems shown; it is eventually shown to be underway with every door open, despite what had previously been established.
    • While escaping Los Angeles, Gordon is reluctant to pilot the plane (a twin-engine Cessna 340), describing how he has only had "a couple of lessons," yet almost immediately afterward he is shown executing advanced maneuvers and nearly flawless landings, even navigating to Las Vegas. Multi-engine aircraft are much more complex than single-engine, which is why beginner pilots almost invariably start their training on single-engine aircraft. Even if Gordon had received some sort of training in a multi-engine aircraft, a "couple of lessons" would not begin to account for the skills displayed in the film.
    • When the film first shows Yuri, Tamara, Sasha, and the boys in Vegas, their plane is on a hoist and Sasha shakes his head at Yuri, indicating his private plane is not going to be able to fly (implying something has happened to it). Then, when they are in the terminal, Sasha hurries in and says he has found an Antonov that was just about to take off but the tower would not let them. So... the Antonov isn't Yuri's plane, but the cars in the hold are — the Bentley is programmed to start at his voice command.
    • It is never explained as to how the family was rescued from or even escaped from the emergency flood control barriers; it never bothered to show footage for that one part which comes across as rather jarring.
  7. The film has too many protagonists as secondary characters, that instead of developing them correctly throughout the plot, it is the plot that must adapt to them, in addition, it is very difficult to sympathize with the characters since most are completely flat in personality, and none of them show advancements throughout the film. You just don't do that.
    • Speaking of the novel series Game of Thrones for example, the books properly used more than 8 viewpoint characters very well instead of a lot.
    • Even the characters are inspired more than anything by the stereotypes of the typical tropes of every destruction movies:
      • Jackson Curtis: he is the typical protagonist who, by chance of fate, knows that the world is ending and seeks to save his family.
      • Adrian Hemsley: A limited scientist with morals who discovers that the world is ending and he can do nothing since Adrian has no power or authority.
      • Laura Wilson: She is the typical moralistic woman who helps the scientist and falls in love with him in the end.
      • Gordon Silberman: A traditional boyfriend of the ex or rival of the protagonist who in the end dies or becomes his best friend.
      • Thomas Wilson: He is the typical altruistic or moralistic president who decides to die instead of being saved.
      • Carl Anheuser: He is the head of the scientist who has no morals that his only motivation is to save himself and in the end, he survives.
      • Kate Curtis: She is the traditional ex or girlfriend of the protagonist who decides to accompany him and in the end, they stay together.
      • Charlie Frost: He is the typical crazy conspiratorial who knows the world is ending and dies from disaster.
      • Noah Curtis: The typical rebellious or misunderstood son who hates his father but finally reconciles with him.
      • Tamara Jikan: Yuri's girlfriend with a depression or a unhappy life who dies in the end.
      • Lilly Curtis: A traditional little daughter who loves her family and is not fully aware of everything that happens around her.
    • Apart from what was highlighted in point 1, this film has several degradable or annoying characters that the only thing they do is serve as a hindrance in the plot, apart from that none causes an impact or importance within the film.
      • Yuri Karpov: Perhaps the most despicable of the whole film, he appears as a millionaire who seeks to survive the catastrophe with his family, but instead of expressing seriousness about the situation, he appears all the time like a rabid and arrogant subject who acts more. On impulse, apart from the fact that it is very difficult to sympathize with him with that personality, in each scene that appears he shows at all times an extremely arrogant, indifferent, and abusive bully attitude, making fun of even Jackson and everyone when he sees that they cannot be saved, in addition to the fact that his death, which occurs in the blink of an eye, is not emotional but becomes a very tragicomic death.
      • In addition to having too many characters, the film is very mean when it comes to presenting the deaths of all the characters since practically none of them make it emotional or tragic except for the deaths of Satnam Tsurutani, Gordon Silberman, and Harry Helmsley.
  8. Mediocre acting, even from actors like John Cusack, Danny Glover, and Woody Harrelson.
    • On top of that, various performances by the supporting characters played by Zlatko Burić, Alexandre Haussman, Philippe Haussman, Johann Urb, and Tseng Chang are terrible, which just don't fit in with the atmosphere they present with the film.
    • In specific versions of the film dubbed in other languages, the dubbing for much for the characters feel either out-of-place or forced; this is more noticeable in scenes with Frederick West, Captain Michaels, Dr. Satnam Tsurutani, Yuri, Alec, and Oleg Karpov, respectively.
  9. A rather poorly-written script that sounds like it was written by someone who watched way too many disaster films, genres, and series and it's frustrating.
  10. The film suffers from forty-five minutes of useless subplots that seem to only exist just to extend the length of the film; seriously, remove said subplots, and the film and characters would not be affected whatsoever.
  11. The family seems to have the most plot armor[2] out of all the characters in the entire movie, as they are somehow able to survive every single disaster in the movie, even more so than Indiana Jones ever did. While almost everyone else is screaming and dying, the family is escaping safely.
  12. Multiple bland and clichéd lines throughout the entire film.
  13. It is pretty much insulting to other nations; even though plenty of Presidents of the United States of America have been creeps, not all of them have been, and the characters can accept a heroic president in this film... but it is insulting to have other world leaders follow him blindly, and have him behave so nobly, going down with his country; the Queen of England is also portrayed as one of the loathsome billionaires buying her way out, which is also insulting considering that the Queen Mum made a point of staying in London during the blitz. Not only that, it's also disrespectful to the former's memory.
  14. False advertising: The teaser trailer and 2nd official trailer give the impression that it will be a horror movie or it will have a philosophical message about life and the planet when in reality, the film is more of a mix between action and catastrophe, which does not have in itself of a thoughtful message. The teaser even uses the music from the trailer of Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining!
    • In addition to the aforementioned, in the trailers themselves, it seems that the characters of Harry Hemsley, Charlie Frost, Thomas Wilson, and Satnam Tsurutani will have leading roles, when they're actually secondary characters who don't appear in more than 12 or 15 minutes of the 158 minutes that the film lasts.
    • In the official poster, you see a Buddhist monk witnessing the Himalayas being flooded by a gigantic tsunami. Although this scene appears in the film, it doesn't happen that way, since the monk dies when the flood destroys his house.
    • In another of the posters, you see the city of Rio de Janeiro devastated by a great flood while Christ the Redeemer is about to collapse in a lot of people. This scene has no relevance in the plot (unlike the destruction of L.A. scene) other than that it doesn't happen in the same way as in the poster; the only reference that it's made is when in a news report you see the Christ the redeemer statue collapsing behind the mountain, while Rio de Janeiro is on fire.
  15. There is a use of product placement in the film; Froot Loops, All-Bran, Rice Krispies, Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran, Crunch, and even Randy's Donuts, as well as Chevron logos, are present during the store scene.
  16. This film was responsible for the enormous and abrupt decline of the disaster genre in cinema, at the same time, this film was that blatantly overloaded the market, the critics, and the general public with these types of films, causing of now on these types of films will no longer be taken seriously, not forgetting that thanks to 2012 this film genre ceased to be a box office success among the public, becoming disproportionate box office failures and that from the 2010s these films would disappear from the market.
    • On top of that, this movie can be called a racing killer, as this movie heavily tarnished Roland Emmerich 's image and career, causing 2012 to be his latest box office success, as from now on all his films were box office flops among critics and audiences, in addition to movie 2012 made the studios begin to see him as someone who is not worth investing money.
    • Not to mention, this movie ruined the careers of actors George Segal, Ryan McDonald, Blu Mankuma, Liam James, Amanda Peet, Jimi Mistry, Zlatko Burić, Beatrice Rosen, Chin Han, and Johann Urb, causing these actors to be bad. seen by the film industry, due in part to this film's poor script, acting, and background, causing major stagnation in their careers.

Good Qualities

  1. Epic and a fantastic soundtrack that was performed by Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander, especially "The End is Only the Beginning".
  2. The credits songs "Time for Miracles" by Adam Lambert and "Faded like a Photograph" by Filter are very nice.
  3. The visual effects are very great, even for 2009 standards.
  4. Its dark tone is surprisingly handled pretty well.
  5. Some action scenes, such as the earthquake destroying Los Angeles, are intense, well shot, and eye-catching.
  6. The cinematography is pretty good.
  7. The film ultimately reminds us that, even with all of our advanced technology, the force of planet earth remains as the most powerful mean of mass destruction that there is. And the sad thing is that, if disasters like the ones in the movie do eventually come to pass, we're simply not prepared.
  8. The Columbia Pictures logo variant at the beginning is interesting.


Critical Response

The film received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics and audiences, with praise for its visual effects, but criticism of its screenplay and runtime. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 39% critic rating and 47% audience score, based on 244 reviews and an average rating of 5.02/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Roland Emmerich's 2012 provides plenty of visual thrills but lacks a strong enough script to support its massive scope and inflated length." It had a 5.8/10 on IMDb and a 49/100 on Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews."

Box Office

2012 grossed $166.1 million in North America and $603.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $769.7 million against a production budget of $200 million, making it the first film to gross over $700 million worldwide without crossing $200 million domestically. Worldwide, it was the fifth-highest-grossing 2009 film and the fifth-highest-grossing film distributed by Sony-Columbia, (behind Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and Skyfall), however, it is well known that it had a combined budget of almost 600 or 650 million due to its huge marketing campaign, which supposedly generated a net profit of almost 180 or 220 million, which according to some Sony leaks they considered 2012 as a bad one investment.

Renewed Hype

In 2020, nearly eleven years after the movie was released, it gained renewed interest during the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the second-most popular film and seventh-most popular overall title on Netflix in March 2020.[3]


  • The movie was reportedly banned in North Korea. The year depicted in the movie was the 100th anniversary of the birth of their nation's founder, Kim Il-sung; any film depicting the year negatively would be deemed offensive by the North Korean government. Several people in North Korea were reportedly arrested for possessing (or viewing) imported copies of 2012 and charged with "grave provocation against the development of the state".
  • This film was going to have a sequel/spin-off TV series titled 2013 that would've aired on ABC. According to executive producer Mark Gordon, it was to be about the survivors of the supposed 2012 disaster in the film and how they would build a new world and what would it look like. However, plans were later cancelled for budgetary reasons.
  • It spawned the 2012-2021 meme.


External Links