On 2012

Roland Emmerich has just announced his new movie project – a disaster movie in which THE ENTIRE DAMNED SOLAR SYSTEM falls to pieces, spectacularly, and only a handful of A List Hollywood actors survive, floating on a plank in empty space. 

This is the only way he could top 2012, a disaster movie which features the end of the world, in astonishing graphic detail.  A supermarket splits in half; cities fall into the sea; the South Pole moves to Minnesota; and Everest looms in the middle of an ocean.

It’s a great spectacle, but it’s also a classic example of a Hollywood movie built by story engineers, not written by real writers. A real writer would have found some pain and pathos in this story of the End of Days.  A real writer would have created characters who you didn’t want to punch because they’re so damned noble. (The evil Russian oligarch with the big lips was the only character I liked – because he was so flawed.)  And a real writer would, quite possibly, have found a place for passion and eroticism and love, amidst all the falling buildings – because if the world’s about to end, wouldn’t you want to find a quiet place, and drink a bottle of wine, and make gentle elegiac love with your partner?  I mean – don’t these people have any emotion other than blind panic?

But story engineers do know how to engineer a good story.  The thrills thrill, the spills spill; all the characters have journeys (from A to A 1/2), and yes, I did have a tear in my eye when Danny Glover did the noble thing half way through the story.

It’s a shame, though, that Emmerich didn’t feel able to call upon the many brilliant screenwriters in Hollywood who can infuse genre material with real truth and wit. 

Oddly, it feels like an oldfashioned movie because it’s not in 3D. After Pixar’s Up, I can’t believe that all blockbuster movies aren’t made that way.

For a fabulous image of Apocalypse, as painted by John Martin, see Paul McAuley’s highly perceptive blog, and scroll down to 4th November.

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