diamond geezer

 Saturday, November 21, 2009

I went to see 2012 last night. Not the Olympic Park, for a change, but the blockbuster disaster movie of the same name. The world's going to end on 21st December 2012 because that's the day the Mayan Calendar runs out of numbers. You remember, I blogged about this whole doomsday scenario in 2002, so there's obviously no point in repeating the whole saga again. But that's the scenario this new film is based on.

2012 is a very long film - longer indeed than an entire Olympic marathon. During the course of its two and a half hours, I don't think it's revealing too much to say that civilisation is wiped out and nearly everybody dies. It's mostly Americans that get killed, on screen at least, although there are a few token massacres on the other continents for good measure. I think I died just over halfway through, but it was hard to tell because the film gave the UK a wide berth. Damn those pesky mutating sunspot neutrinos (or whatever plot device the film used to attempt to justify the onset of tectonic armageddon).

The special effects in the film were very impressive, if scientifically highly suspect. Buildings don't topple like that, do they, they tend to collapse. Earthquakes don't cause the earth's crust to subside leaving only an airport runway standing amid a general hellhole inferno. And raging volcanic clouds don't pause briefly to allow all-American heroes the chance to leap aboard departing planes before continuing their awesome destructive billow.

2012's plot was a string of cliches, as might be expected. The nutter who nobody believes until its too late. The American president with a scrupulous sense of dignity in the face of destruction. Two cute kids and a dog (who may, or may not, survive until the end of the film) (but you can probably guess). The rekindled love interest, brought together by the slaughter of six billion surrounding souls. And the statistically impossible car chase through a metropolis of collapsing buildings, at least one of which ought to have taken out our hero within the first two minutes thereby shortening the film considerably.

Much as I sort of enjoyed the film, I couldn't help sitting there for 150 minutes picking holes in the plot. How come the mobile phone network still worked after half of the nearby continent had been destroyed? How could a camper van travel several miles across the Yellowstone National Park in a couple of minutes? When the fate of the world is hanging imminently in the balance, why would you stop to snog your ex-wife? And when almost every human on the planet is dead, shouldn't the survivors be even a teensy bit grief-stricken?

So I have a proposition to make. If the director had shown me the film before releasing it to general the public, I could have pointed out several of these plot holes well in advance. Dear Mr Emmerich, you need to explain the mobile phone thing, maybe by mentioning it's all done by satellite. Dear Mr Emmerich, when depicting a digital countdown to some imminent catastrophe, try to make sure it's running simultaneously to the action. Dear Mr Emmerich, a wave 1500m high isn't going to lap the flanks of Mount Everest. Dear Mr Emmerich, the London Olympics won't be underway in December, and the Queen can't walk that fast, and not every computer in the world is a Sony. That sort of thing.

I wouldn't have charged much, a mere fraction of the $200m the film took to produce, but my input at an early stage might have helped 2012 to be less of a logical turkey. Additionally I'd be more than willing to bring rigour to the rest of Hollywood by validating their plotlines for a very reasonable fee. I'm also available should Russell T Davies or his successors need help in plugging script inadequacies in Doctor Who (so many time paradoxes to clear up). Indeed, I could even have advised God that his "I created the world in six days" story was scientifically bankrupt. A pre-screening service for screenwriters, that's what's the world needs. I bet you could do it too.

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