A Russian ex-mobster with €3 billion in disposable assets keeps a limo driver on retainer in LA. The wheel man isn’t a highly trained ex-CIA assassin or an ex-Navy SEAL – he’s a failed author with the skinny frame of John Cusack. And yet that’s not the most ridiculous aspect of this apocalyptic melodrama. Cars will outrun dissolving ground, planes will skim collapsing buildings, dogs will find a way to survive where humans fail – welcome to the latest Roland Emmerich disaster movie...
On the plus side, the destruction on this Blu-ray disc looks and sounds astonishing. The man who has plied his trade blowing up landmarks (Independence Day), toppling cities (Godzilla) and plunging us into the next ice age (The Day After Tomorrow) puts those skills into effect to end our civilisation with a bang. Unfortunately, for all that dazzle, the story flounders along like a ship heading into a tsunami. If you thought endless action set-pieces and breathtakingly beautiful CGI couldn’t become a bore, you’re in for a shock.
On the face of it, the extensive extras should offer a life-raft to the struggling main feature. In reality, that’s not the case. Yes, the featurettes show fans of filmmaking what it takes to destroy the world, but the only thing worse than sitting through the overlong main feature is sitting through it listening to Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser’s commentary. The duo sound like two old men in the pub in one of the driest chat-tracks ever recorded (it says something when the trivia track is more entertaining).
The myth of 2012 – apparently the ancient Mayans reckoned the apocalypse will come knocking in that year – is also propped up a little too faithfully in features such as ‘Science Behind The Destruction’ and the interactive Mayan calendar, while Emmerich’s ego-stroking ‘Master Of The Modern Epic’ is perhaps the low point.
As for the alternate ending? Thank whichever deity you pray to they binned it. Aside from dripping unnecessary cheese onto proceedings, that’s three- and-a-half minutes of your life you never gave away.
The annihilation is spot on, but the main feature drags and there’s no saviour among the extras.