Sunday 20 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Science Fiction


None November 19th, 2009


Some movie plots are ripped from the headlines. Writer/director Roland Emmerich ("10,000 B.C.," "The Day After Tomorrow") takes his from the headlines of the late, lamented Weekly World News. My all-time favorite was the one informing us that indiscriminate tuna fishermen were netting and killing mermaids. You don't get information like that from Oklahoma Gazette.

Surely you know by now that legend tells us the Mayan calendar, from which we in the 21st century derive so much of our daily knowledge, runs out of time on Dec. 21, 2012, meaning that on that date, the World as We Know It will end. Thanks for flying Planet Earth Airlines, and we hope you enjoy your stay in Cloud Cuckooland.

This movie takes that concept as its premise and then spends 158 minutes showing us what it will look like and how various individuals will react. To borrow a phrase from Tweety, "Tings faw down and go BOOM!"

John Cusack ("Igor") is Jackson Curtis, a published but nevertheless failed writer who puts pieces of information together to figure out that the earth's crust is shifting, and when the shift hits the fan, the West Coast goes the way of Atlantis, soon to be followed by everything else, including that time-share you got talked into and haven't had a chance to use yet. You think you have problems? The world is supposed to end on Dec. 21, and my birthday is Dec. 22. I am gonna be so pissed.

The film's template is Emmerich's 1996 home run, "Independence Day." Substitute solar flares for aliens, and you've got it. One of the things I like about this picture is that it is on the side of science. Sure, it may be mostly junk science for all I know, but the scientists know their stuff, and nary a one of them is crazy. In fact, it is the humanist scientist, nicely played by Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Redbelt"), who pleads for saving as many human lives as possible, even if it means discomforting the world's richest who have purchased room on a series of arks.

But the plot is pure Intro to Disaster Movies. We're presented with a large cast of characters, many of whom will stick around just long enough to push some of our emotional buttons and then will get crushed, drowned, incinerated or in some manner dispatched before we move on to others. That's the way these pictures work: A small group represents all of humanity, most of which won't make it to the morning after.

The primary attraction here is the CGI effects, and they may be the best ever in a popular film, at least until "Avatar" opens next month. This is not cheap Halloween eye candy, but the real rich chocolate stuff from Switzerland.

The rest of the cast includes Oliver Platt as the villainous government flack, Amanda Peet as Jackson's ex-wife, Tom McCarthy as her current, Danny Glover as the president, Thandie Newton as his daughter, and Woody Harrelson as an Art Bell-ish, AM-radio conspiracy theorist.

What "2012" lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in razzle-dazzle. Buy a large popcorn "” you're gonna need it.

"”Doug Bentin

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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