2012 (2009) - Two-Disc Special Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Science Fiction
Sony || PG13 - 158 minutes - $39.95 || March 3, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-02-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer(s): Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser (written by)
Cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Thomas McCarthy, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover


Theatrical Release Date: November 13, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Picture-in-Picture
  • 7 Featurettes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

If there’s one thing you can count on in this crazy, mixed up world is Roland Emmerich directing a massively expensive disaster movie – well, thanks to Avatar and Washington D.C., I guess $200 million is chump change – and even though I will always have a soft spot for Independence Day and the groundbreaking visual and special effects, I was actually fairly impressed with his latest, 2012.

The story is simple and really, writer/director Emmerich makes it easy enough so that we can move on from the technical aspects and watch s*** blow up... This is your typical multi-character ensemble with your average Joe (JOHN CUSACK) and his fractured family (including AMANDA PEET); the President of the United States (DANNY GLOVER) having to bring together the world leaders in preparation for events to come; the President’s selfish chief-of-staff (OLIVER PLATT); a geophysicist named Dr. Adrian Helmsley (CHIWETEL EJIOFOR) who works for the President on coming up with a plan and monitor the coming catastrophe; and then you’ve got a few throwaway characters (including THANDIE NEWTON as the President’s daughter, WOOD HARRELSON as a conspiracy nut and a few Russians for good measure) that don’t have a whole lot to do except fill time and flesh out some of the others’ “personalities”.

Oh, the story, almost forgot. A solar flare from the sun is causing the Earth’s core to drastically heat up and all sorts of hell breaks loose as massive Earthquakes obliterate California, a plume of ash covers the Midwest and East Coast as the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean’s converge on all sides to take out the United States (and the world, of course), but we want to see the American landmarks get crushed, although we do get glimpses of the chaos around the world. Can our brave souls survive? Will the family core come back together? How exactly did the West Coast sink into the Pacific like a ship?

In spite of my sarcastic questions and remarks, I thought for a disaster movie, 2012 wasn’t that bad and a heck a lot better than I had expected. I also had feared what I thought would be a bloated 158-minute running time (that’s longer than The Dark Knight and The Godfather), and yes although several characters – and a couple action sequences as well – could have been scrapped or drastically reduced, I never was bored by it nor looked at the time to see when it would be over. The stunning visual and special effects were just enough to keep me captivated and also enough to overcome thinly written characters.

Speaking of the characters and the actors who portrayed them, Emmerich once again gathers a talented cast, a good thing considering some of the dialogue is laughable and the situations the characters get themselves into was just dumb. But when you have the likes of John Cusack, not entirely believable as a father; the generally underutilized (in Hollywood) Amanda Peet, not entirely believable as a mother; Chiwetel Ejiofor who has done some good work in the past including Inside Man; as well as Oliver Platt who somehow, somewhere Roland Emmerich dug out of a hole, the entire cast makes due with what is quite frankly thin script.

In the end like other disaster movies that have come before, you only need so much script to keep things together as it is the effects that makes things either tolerable (I never was a fan of The Day After Tomorrow) or absolutely entertaining (The Poseidon Adventure is a personal favorite, as is The Towering Inferno despite its deficiencies). 2012 might not rank very high amongst others in the genre, but I am willing to put it up there perhaps just behind Independence Day. I know the movie has been bashed by movie-goers and critics alike, but when I can be entertained for a lengthy two and a half hours and don’t get fidgety, that’s a winner in my book.

Whether 2012 will stand the test of time is an entirely different question as the technology that made Avatar the insane blockbuster it is becomes more the norm in visual effects.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Sony is releasing 2012 in 3 versions: A 1-disc DVD, 1-disc Blu-ray and 2-disc Blu-ray. This one comes in a thicker BD case (like the one for Angels & Demons) and a glossy slipcover.

DISC 1:
Feature Commentary – Co-Writer/Producer/Director Roland Emmerich and Co-Writer/Producer Harald Kloser is a great track especially if you want to hear two guys with thick-ish German and Austrian accents (respectively). In all seriousness, the two guys offer up some info on how the film was made, filming locations, story elements and the visual effects.

Picture-in-Picture: Roland’s Vision – This feature, played along with the movie, allows the viewer to see some behind-the-scenes footage, with comments by the cast and crew, of the making of 2012 as well as some conceptual art and the like by Roland Emmerich and company. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Alternate Ending (3:39; HD) – This is an utterly ridiculous alternate ending. Spoiler warning, but it involves Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character getting a call from his dad that in fact he did not die after the cruise ship did not overturn. One of the most incredibly awful alternate endings I have ever seen. Now, there’s a little more to it with John Cusack’s character meeting Thandie Newton and just an all around overly sentimental ending. Oh, and as good of an actor that Chiwetel Ejiofor is, he was absolutely awful.

Rounding out the disc is Sony’s standard BD-Live portal and movieIQ where you can take a look at the filmography of the cast and crew and bits of trivia. As I have said before about this feature, I’d rather just use IMDb but I guess others might find it useful. Both features are, of course, ** Blu-ray Exclusives **.

DISC 2:
Interactive Mayan Calendar is a feature where you can “enter a dateto reveal your horoscope and personality.” I decided to try it out, as one might suspect it’s yet another gimmicky feature as shown by what mine said upon entering my birthdate: “Those born on this day have the power of healing. They are no afraid of challenges [I am] and even excel when confronted with them [I am a classic B-/C+ student]. However, be wary because those born on this day favor incompleteness [now there’s something that is accurate].” ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar (3:53) is a Cliff’s Notes featurette about the Mayan calendar and how they calculated space time. With this you get comments from experts in the subject. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Deleted Scenes (4:55; HD) – There are five scenes excised for whatever reason (got to think pacing since the movie was already 158-minutes). The scenes aren’t anything special and just add in extra lines that weren’t needed (although the punch scene was good).

Designing the End of the World (26:03; HD) – This featurette takes a look at the visual and special effects of 2012 and we get your usual comments from filmmakers, cast and members of the crew. I always like seeing behind-the-scenes footage and this gives some insight into how much work it took to do some of the effects. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic (9:31; HD) – I might’ve liked this film more than most, but it’s stretching it to call Emmerich the master of anything. In any case, this featurette is just filled with members of the cast gushing over how great Emmerich is with these films. After the initial praises, this isn’t too bad of a featurette as Emmerich does have the vision for the disaster movie.

Science Behind the Destruction (13:19; HD) examines the science – and theories – featured in the film and how it was integrated in a “feasible” way. We get more sound bites from experts in the field of 2012 and astrology and these were used to give some reasonable explanations for the situations, no matter how unlikely. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

The End of the World: The Actor’s Perspective (7:34; HD) – This featurette takes a look at the casting for 2012 and then proceeds to go through each of them, one by one. There’s really not much to get out of this as it’s just filled with interviews as they talk about one another. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

There is also Adam Lambert’s “Time for Miracles” Music Video (4:19; HD). No disaster movie would be complete without a sappy, forgettable ballad... Oh, and then we also get a Making the Music Video (2:43; HD), a ** Blu-ray Exclusive **, so that’s awesome.

Countdown to the Future (22:03; HD) is a mini-documentary that takes a look at the Mayan theory that the world will end on December 21, 2012. This also features some of the same people we’ve seen before (different interviews) but without the annoying film footage thrown in.

DISC 3:
Last on this set is our best friend, the Digital Copy (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) compatible with WMV and iTunes.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

2012 is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition (on a 50GB Blu-ray disc, MPEG-4 AVC codec). As one should expect, this is a visual masterpiece. The colors are all well balanced and I would guess on par with what people saw in the theater. The detail level is also very good as even things in the background are fairly clear. Now, I would say the only part that keeps this from perfection is that there are portions that are a tad soft, but overall I was impressed.

As with most of Sony’s day and date theatrical releases, this disc comes with a vicious 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Although I was a tad disappointed that the subwoofer didn’t kick in as much or hard as I had expected, the other audio elements more than made up for it. This isn’t necessarily a ‘loud’ movie per se, but there is balance from each channel especially when you get to the numerous action sequences. Dialogue of course is pretty clear coming via the center channel while all the action would move from side to side, front to back depending on where it would flow.



.::OVERALL::.

Despite, or in spite of, some of 2012’s more ridiculous moments, I actually was generally surprised by this latest VFX extravaganza. The ensemble cast isn’t the best but they make do with what they have. The Blu-ray itself excels in both the visual and audio realms and although I was a little disappointed with the quality of the special features, there’s enough to keep you occupied for a few hours.