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2012

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Anthony G Williams, Jun 19, 2010.

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  1. Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard Writer

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    Film: 2012

    I suppose it had to happen. There's been a huge amount of nonsense posted on the internet, by those whose grasp of reality is somewhat tenuous, concerning the claim that the Mayans predicted the end of the world on 21 December 2012. As it happens the Mayans did no such thing, although the degree of nonsense involved would be no less if they had; I discussed this on this blog on 6 March 2009. Anyway, someone in Hollywood got to hear of this and spotted a money-making opportunity, so we now have a dramatic film about it. Naturally, I just had to watch it…

    I'll pass quickly over the the gibberish which the film-makers used to provide a pseudo-scientific explanation for the mechanism which would bring about global disaster. I'll give them one credit for the fact that the Mayan believer in the film was portrayed as a raving nutcase, but since it all came to pass as the Mayans "predicted" that isn't worth much.

    Let's move on to the film - how did it work as a drama? The start was not at all promising, with the same tired old Hollywood cliches trotted out; the hero coping with a broken marriage, his wife's new partner, and sharing custody of their young kids (who are frequently in danger, of course, but survive, of course). This reminded me of the recent War of the Worlds film which focused on such family relationship issues to such an extent that I gave up watching out of sheer boredom. 2012 isn't quite that bad, so I stuck with it and we soon get into the strength (actually, the only point) of the film, which is the CGI vision of the end of the world. And I have to admit it's pretty dramatic, with huge earthquakes and tsunamis, canyons suddenly opening up and cities disappearing into them, followed by floods across the world.

    The problem is that the film-makers seemed to be so bewitched by all this that they didn't bother overmuch with a plot, providing instead one relentless chase scene as the hero and his family struggle to get to China where several arks (vast armoured ships, each housing tens of thousands) designed to ride out the disaster are waiting (they get there, of course). The last part of the film is an anti-climax, with the hero struggling to solve a technical problem with their ark (work which he delays, despite its urgency, in order to have a passionate heart-to-heart with his ex), which seems very minor-league stuff after the colossal disasters we've witnessed.

    It doesn't help that the hero (played by John Cusack) and his family are not particularly engaging or likeable. There's a much more interesting and appealing combination of Chiwetel Ejiofor as a scientific adviser and Thandie Newton as the US President's daughter, but they have only secondary roles. Ejiofor gets to make the big moral speech about how they should open up their ark to let in thousands of people left stranded, an action which very nearly results in the destruction of the ark. All very noble, but no-one mentions the surely important issue of how much food they have on board to last whatever time it will take before the land stabilises again and they can start growing crops; did they all have to go on a starvation diet to cope with the extra numbers?

    As an aside, this moral dilemma reminded me of one of those table-top disaster management exercises which took place in the UK some years ago. The scenario was that an outbreak of a highly infections and highly lethal disease had occurred in a hospital, and the task was to decide what to do to stop it spreading. The winners (in terms of minimising casualties) were the team who opted for stationing snipers all round the building and shooting dead anyone who tried to leave. This was regarded as abhorrent by the more moralistic participants, but their "humane" approaches resulted in predicted death-tolls in the tens of thousands. Me, I'm with the snipers…

    A couple of unnecessary details jarred with me. One was a news flash that the 2012 London Olympics had had to be abandoned because of the rapid onset of world-wide geological disaster. Anyone with the vaguest interest would know that they are to take place in the summer, not December. The other was the sight of an elderly lady with some corgis entering one of the arks - obviously intended to suggest the Queen. This is the duty-driven daughter of the King who, in the darkest days of World War 2 when London was being bombed daily and a German invasion believed to be imminent, refused to leave Buckingham Palace and was observed in the grounds practising with his revolver, preparing to make a last stand against the invaders. I can imagine the Queen ordering Prince William to flee the country and take refuge in order to continue the line, but herself? Never.

    So is 2012 worth watching? If you like disaster movies with spectacular CGI, then yes it is. But you'd better set aside whatever critical faculties you possess if you hope to enjoy it as a drama: I suspect that the internal application of a moderate quantity of alcohol might help![​IMG]


    (This entry is cross-posted from my science-fiction & fantasy blog.)
     
  2. painkiller64

    painkiller64 Avoid A Void

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    Re: Film: 2012

    whether we believe or not that the world is going to end in a giant flood or second place on the worse scale, being frozen over as in "the day after tomorrow" or my number one favorite way for the world to end is the classic 'blow the whole world to smithereens and a small band of survivors rocket to another world' as in "when worlds collide" (yes that classic movie is my all time favorite and i do look forward to the remake).
    now back to what i was saying originally. a movie is a movie. if we want to believe that the world is going to end then most likely we will end it.
    preferably, i would rather go out like in 'when worlds collide' or be a survivor for '28 days later' with a touch of 'resident evil' (if only just to spend one moment with ms. jovovich.)
    i dont know if i am really making a point here!? i guess all in all you cant change the minds of the protaganist who want so dearly to believe that we are all doomed.
     
  3. Starbeast from Planet X

    Starbeast from Planet X Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    2012: The Beginning of the End.....

    Thanks for the review, a friend also told me about the movie, I was hoping for a good story and not a showcase for special effects with a disfunctional family as the main characters. (sighs)

    I'd rather see the movie 2012 with Planet X rising, aliens coming here to help us rebuild after the gravatational forces cause havoc etc.

    But like you mentioned, what did the Mayans know anyways.....they knew the Earth is round, they knew how many planets there are in our solar system, they knew about astronomy, they've seen people come from behind the sun on a large planet orbitting a dwarf star. And going further back, the Sumerians mentioned the same things, used simular symbols depicting astronomy and the people from Planet X....but that's just nonsense talk.....

    I have noticed though that planet Venus has been burning brighter very recently, earthquakes are becoming more frequent, scientists believe we occasionally experiance a planet shift every once in a while...and some scientists believe there are great gravitational forces causing all of these things... it's a mystery to me. But I wonder why no one talks about the tenth planet that was discovered back in the 1980's, it made headlines around the world....but it's only my opinion and research about all of this. Norway stored away alot of plant seeds in an abandoned salt mine vault in case of a great catastrophy destroys the world.

    I could go on but I'm straying away from the goofy movie with cool special effects, I'm not a doom-sayer, but things are pointing to something beyond our control, I hope I'm wrong about what I believe is going to happen. I did know however something dramatic was going to happen so the U.S. could rush overseas to occupy the area where the oil is and the economy was going to go into big business owners pockets.....maybe I'm a good guesser. Maybe Judgement Day is right around the corner....ah well...I said enough.
     
  4. Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard Writer

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    Re: Film: 2012

    Well, Starbeast, you have grouped together several different things with quite different levels of evidence and probability and treated them as if they are the same.

    For instance, it would not be surprising if the Mayans worked out that the world was a sphere - the ancient Greeks did that many centuries before the Mayans were around, simply through observation and calculation (they even worked out the size of the Earth). It would also not be surprising if they located the major planets, this was also done a long time before them since they are visible to the naked eye and change position in a way that the stars do not. Since they had no artificial lights to dim the night sky (and not a lot else to do when it was dark...) ancient peoples tended to be very familiar with astronomical features, a lot more so than the average Janet and John these days. But they only knew a tiny fraction of what modern astronomers know.

    It is not surprising that you have noticed that Venus changes in apparent brightness as it does so all of the time depending on how much of the bright side of the planet (the half illuminated by the sun) is visible from Earth. This varies as Venus and the Earth travel on their different orbits. That's simple astronomy, and would have been noticed by the ancients as well.

    However, it is a very different matter to then talk about "people come from behind the sun on a large planet orbiting a dwarf star". What hard evidence is there for this highly improbable claim? It is equally improbable that the Mayans had access to any "secret knowledge" about the future of the world. Their culture is increasingly well understood, having been studied intensively, and there was nothing mysterious or magical involved. They were just a well-organised pre-industrial society with some bizarre religious beliefs.

    You should bear in mind the important precept: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". To give an example, if you claim to have eaten eggs for breakfast I don't require any proof to accept your claim. If you claim that you laid the eggs yourself I wouldn't believe that is possible without overwhelmingly strong scientific evidence.

    Try developing a more skeptical approach, Starbeast, and when faced with unlikely-sounding claims, ask yourself how well-supported they are by the evidence - by which I mean testable evidence which stands up to scientific examination.
     
  5. Starbeast from Planet X

    Starbeast from Planet X Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    The proof is in the pudding.....


    Hello Mr. Williams. I am a skeptic, I try to find answers for the whys and wherefores, and when I discover the answers...they can be quite shocking. If I told you what has happened in the past, what is going on behind the scenes of the U.S. government, and what is happening now.....you wouldn't believe me. I can't explain everything in a few lenghty paragraphs, I can only throw out things randomly, like tiny pieces of a big puzzle.

    See you on the site my friend, I like your movie critiques. :) I'm going to China for my vacation to visit the largest pyramid on Earth. There sure are alot of pyramids around the world, perhaps I'll get a chance to see them all.
     
  6. painkiller64

    painkiller64 Avoid A Void

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    Re: Film: 2012

    not to butt in on your conversation there anthony and starbeast. i think we all know that there is a general scare all over the world with changes in climate, shifting of tetonic plates, all around global disaster of all sorts, i.e. volcanos erupting more, etc.

    i have not looked it up lately but are the planets really going to align with the center of the galaxy as has been noted over the past couple of years?

    being that the center of our galaxy as all others are super massive black holes. i wonder if the stressors from that with all other planets aligning could bring more catastrophe?!

    not just venus being brighter but mars is also. can scientist explain that about he plaents.?
     
  7. Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard Writer

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    Re: Film: 2012

    The effects of gravitational forces are not exactly rocket science: they were spelled out by Isaac Newton 300 years ago. They are very well understood and can be calculated precisely as far as astronomical bodies are concerned: this is the way in which some of the invisible (to the naked eye) planets were found. Such forces pose no threat to the Earth, whatever alignments take place.

    The brightness of Mars also varies, just like Venus, on a regular schedule depending on the relative positions of the planets and sun. This has no significance whatsoever.

    The climate is changing for well-understood reasons and if it goes on uncontrolled, this could indeed cause very serious problems for humanity.

    I have seen no evidence that the Earth is experiencing more tectonic activity than usual. Even if it were, that would not necessarily be significant, merely the kind of fluctuation which has gone on for millennia.
     
  8. Starbeast from Planet X

    Starbeast from Planet X Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    Re: Film: 2012

    Agreed. And the upcoming 11 year cycle solar flares are going to be rough on our satellites too.
     
  9. Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard Writer

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  10. breeches

    breeches Cadet

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    Re: Film: 2012

    So you mainly have problem with meaningless climax and struggle of hero ?? I don't think that you can make anything better than this! The movie is worth to watch..
     
  11. AshleyLikesCookies

    AshleyLikesCookies Cadet

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    Re: Film: 2012

    I think the best thing about that movie was Woody Harrelson and pickles.
    Oh and John Cusack, of course. He makes any movie 5 stars.
     
  12. Wolfrunner

    Wolfrunner Rocket Ranger

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    Re: Film: 2012

    I'll start off my contribution to this thread by saying the movie was okay but I have to admit that the director over did the end the world theme of the movie.

    As for the mayans and all the ancient cultures that predicted the end of the world I do agree with Anthony that without hard evidence it is just speculation but keep in mind where there is smoke there normally is fire so you never know maybe what these ancient cultures predicted could have some truth.

    What kind of truth or when and how it will happen may be totally different from how the mayans or other ancient civilisations predicted.
     
  13. Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard Writer

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    Re: Film: 2012

    The problem is that those ancient cultures seemed to predict different, and often mutually exclusive, things. These were of course bound up in their religious beliefs, and we still have some of those today. It never fails to amaze me that so many educated western people still believe that the world was created 6,000 years ago because that's what can be calculated from the Bible. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Wolfrunner

    Wolfrunner Rocket Ranger

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    Re: Film: 2012

    Very true, a few hundred years ago when religion was necessary to explain phenomenons like shooting stars (the birth of a king or something), earthquakes, etc because there was no scientific evidence to explain otherwise is understandable but presently it's ridiculous to contradict a proven scientific fact with "because the bible says so".

    However even though a large part of the bible can be considered invention no one can discard that it also has some historical value (distorted no doubt). I don't say we should take the mayan profecies by face value alone but we should consider that after filtering the religious nonsense some true essence of fact can be found.
     
  15. Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard Writer

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    Re: Film: 2012

    Yes, it has value in illuminating what people believed, or were trying to achieve, when it was written. However, modern archaeological research has revealed that even the "historical" biblical story of the early history of Israel has been grossly distorted, probably for political reasons.

    I think this would be very difficult, since there was no dividing line between religious and "scientific" beliefs such as we have today: the view of the world held by early cultures like the Maya was all bound up in their religious mythologies. I am not aware of any such ancient mythologies (and there are many different, conflicting ones) which contain any factual truths about the creation and fate of the universe. They're no more accurate than Pratchett's 'Discworld', being carried on the back of a giant turtle.

    There are ways of producing smoke without a fire...
     
  16. Wolfrunner

    Wolfrunner Rocket Ranger

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    Re: Film: 2012

    I agree that there was no dividing line between religious and scientific belief in ancient times because as they didn't have any way to analyze the natural phenomena they gave a religious explanation. That doesn't mean that they didn't happen. I am not saying that the world is going to end in 2012 but it could be possible that at one point in the Earth's history something similar happened and the Mayans recorded the positioning of the planets in our solar system and predicted that it would happen again....What I'm trying to say here is that we shouldn't discard these religious mythologies just because they are too ridiculous or too outrageous but we shouldn't believe in them to the letter either.

    Before anyone says that I'm a religious fanatic or a fatalist, I should inform that I am an atheist of a sort. I believe that if there is a god then it should be the planet where we live because it is this planet that gave us life and that is keeping us alive.
     
  17. Kevin

    Kevin Code Monkey Staff Abductee

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    Re: Film: 2012

    So I finally got around to seeing 2012. Not much to say since you guys/gals already got into some of the finer points of it so I'll just sum it up as "Too long, too preachy, too predictable." Something that did irk me was as Tony mentioned in his first post... you end up caring more about some of the secondary characters, like the Indian scientist & his family, than you do for the the main characters.
     
  18. ultraviolet

    ultraviolet Stealth Assassin

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    Re: Film: 2012

    i knew what to expect when i brought this and i thought the film exellent, granted i only was watching for the FX, but, it knew its place and didn't take its self to serisely. i'd happly watch this again anytime. shame i can't say the same thing about avitar
     
  19. Kevin

    Kevin Code Monkey Staff Abductee

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    Re: Film: 2012

    Oh, don't get me wrong, if it was on TV and I had nothing else to do I'd watch it again, it just wouldn't be a film that I would make an effort to watch.
     
  20. Kevin

    Kevin Code Monkey Staff Abductee

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    Re: Film: 2012

    So it turns out it was on TV this weekend, along with a double-billing of The Day After Tomorrow, and, sure enough, I watched both again as a way to kill a rainy Sunday afternoon. Unlike some movies, neither of them aged better with time.

    With 2012 in particular I was struck back to the lack of caring for the main characters. Danny Glover as the US President is woefully under utilized. The story between Thandie Newton (the President's daughter) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dr. Helmsley, the guy on the US staff who apparently is one of only two people in the world who knows what is going on) could have itself been the basis for the movie but, no, as Tony mentioned in his 1st post, the story centered on a generic suburban family that hit most of the movie writing cliches. Even Stephen McHattie as the Captain of the Ark (no, that is not Lance Henriksen in that role) would have been interesting to see more of, instead his character is treated as little more than a purser on a cruise ship keeping quiet until given orders.

    If there is ever a sequel to the movie (2013 anyone?) I would be curious to see happens after the Arks arrive at their new home on the tip of Africa. Each Ark was representative of different nations; are there still a US grouping of people, a UK grouping, an Italian grouping, etc. in the new home? Is the intent that those groupings will eventually make their way back to claim their old geopolitical boundaries? That might suck for the US since Wisconsin is now the South Pole, but, still, the continent is still there. Will a new form of money be used? With so many Ark passengers being ultra-rich who paid for their ride, will there be a huge disproportional amount of upper-class citizens to lower-class citizens, the workers & refugees? Will society try to be recreated the way it was before or will there be forced social situations (eg: arranged marriages, polygamist marriages, etc.) to try & repopulate the world? It was stated that, after the change of sea levels, it is likely the Cape (where the Arks are headed) never even flooded. If that is the case, then are there any African survivors already there? What will become of them in this new world order? How will it be decided who will do what job? Not everybody can be in charge.
     

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