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Reviewer: Richard Tara
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Wood Harrelson, Danny Glover, Liam James, Morgan Lily







If you are a fan of disaster movies with lots of special effects and zillions of cliffhangers then this movie is for you.  However, do not expect any meaningful dialog or acting.  This movie is in the same class as Armageddon and Independence Day with a little twist.  Instead of giant meteor or green aliens, we have the rays from the sun frying the earth from within.

The story centers around two characters.  Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) a dreamer, who is a divorced father of two.  As the movie opens, he is a limo driver waiting for his chance to break into the movies as a screenwriter.  He resents his wife’s current live in boyfriend who is a successful plastic surgeon and is beginning to take his place with his kids as well.  How many movies have we seen with this kind of story line before?

The other character is Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who has discovered that the lethal rays from Sun’s abrupt flare ups have penetrated the core of the earth and the intense heat is going to break the crust of the earth and create 1500 meter (4500 feet to most of you!) tsunamis which will cover most of the Earth and end the life on earth as we know it. Adrian approaches Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt) a very high-ranking Administration official and together they inform the President of the United States (Danny Glover) who in turn informs the heads of other major nations.  The decision is made to secretly construct several arks in a remote Himalayan region.  The Himalayas are selected because the Chinese are better in suppressing information.  However, instead of informing the people that world is about to end, they decide to keep it quiet and only select people who can afford to pay billions of dollars or are deemed worthy of saving by government officials.

One day, Jackson takes his kids all the way from their Los Angeles home to Wyoming to spend a few days camping and fighting the mosquitoes at Yellowstone Park.  There he meets a nutty conspiracy theorist Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson) who warns him about the impending doom of the planet and the secret government plan to save only a few thousand people from the imminent doom using the arks and taking them to repopulate the new continents that will emerge after the old continents are torn apart and sunk by the giant floods.  

Jackson hurries back to Los Angeles, rents a plane and takes his ex wife, kids, and the doctor (he is the only one who can fly) out of LA just before it sinks into the Pacific Ocean. They fly to Las Vegas where they manage to get on-board a huge Russian air freighter owned by his Billionaire Russian employer Yuri and head west toward China.  In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they run out of fuel but when they make an emergency landing, they realize that the continents have already shifted and they are now in China, which has jutted a thousand miles into the Pacific Ocean. 

More cliffhangers and acts of betrayal and bravery follow the family.  The Russian Billionaire dies and Carl Anheuser who thinks of himself as the next President of the US since the President is dead already gets shafted by Adrian in a dramatic speech. Jackson performs acts of heroism and eventually the arks are launched and after 27 days at sea, they reach the new continent of Africa, which has risen from the ocean.

As I said before, if you are looking for an interesting family fair, then this is it.  As for acting, well there is not much to say here. There is Danny Glover who is ashen faced at the end lamenting the fact that he did not tell the people about the disaster before it was too late.  John Cusack could not act if his life depended on it.  Woody Harrelson plays the usual role of an eccentric idiot.  Poor old George Segal has been dragged out of his retirement home to play a washed up musician.  What else do you expect?

The director Roland Emmerich has practically no experience as a director either in his native Germany or in the US.  The writer, Herald Kloser, who also co-composed the theme music has been a musician most of his professional life. 

As for validity of the story and the Mayan calendar, the whole thing is some half-baked idea by some second rate cretin who would have us believe that the Mayans had a calendar that prophesized the end of the World in 2012.   There are even some new pseudo Christians who believe that the world will end in 2011 or 2012.  A year ago, I received a book about the end times that will occur in May 2012.

 What I want to know is how come, the ancient Mayans and guys like Nostradamus knew more about our future than we do today.  The Mayans were extremely ugly savages, which took the heart out of their victims while they were still breathing and Nostradamus was a flunky in the court of Catherine De Medici mother of Charles IX in the fifteenth century. 

What is asinine is people giving credit to these people who had almost no knowledge of their next-door neighbors let alone the future of our world.  Where did they acquire the knowledge?  Extra terrestrials?

The real attraction this movie is in the special effects, the drowning of continents, the eruptions of Caldera at the Yellowstone Park and the disappearance of Los Angeles into the Pacific Ocean

This movie does not win award for directions or acting.  However, the special effects make it worth seeing. 

starstar 1/2