All those who love to believe that the world will come to an end, either through some natural disaster / catastrophe, or some nuclear war one fine day...this movie is dedicated to them. Well, you have seen it many times before...but you get it see it again and this time, with some support from Mayan Civilization which says, that the world comes to an end on December 21, 2012. Though in the movie, you would not see much of them, except for some TV grab on CNN.
Obviously, you will see some amazing special effects, where buildings and all kinds of structure just come down like pack of cards. But, all this will happen later. First, there is this author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), an author who has sold only 500 or less copies of a book Farewell Atlantis, which talks about speculation that the world is coming to an end based on prophecies from ancient civilization. Jackson is separated from his wife, Kate (Amanda Peet), who lives with their two children (Noah and Lily) and her boyfriend / husband, Gordon. Now, Jackson takes his two children for camping at Yellowstone National Park, which has been taken over by the govt for a top secret project. The kids, especially Noah don't quite like their father.
Even before this, there is Dr. Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor...remember him as Peter from Love Actually, the guy who doesn't get Juliet or Keire Knightley). He is a Geologist, working with the Govt, who discovers that, the world is coming to an end, with help from his friend Dr. Satnam (Jimi Mistry...from Guru) But, am sure, he would like to forget this role in a hurry...especially when he delivers one of the worst Hindi dialogues in movie history.
The movie proves, what everyone is saying these days. India will contribute to global research or knowledge pool, while China will continue to be the global factory. So, no doubt Indian scientists catch it early...working in some pre-independence copper mine in India, circa 2009 about signals coming out from the core of the earth. Dr. Helmsley prepares a report in no time (I suspect, must have been outsourced to an Indian BPO, which was edited due to time constraints) which gets immediate attention from Carl Anheuser and an audience with the US President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover) who also has a beautiful daughter, Laura (Thandie Newton) and obviously the scientist has an eye on her, apart from the catastrophic deadline.
Now, Jackson tries to save his family and is on the run with Kate, two children and Gordon. As usual, the whole world is cracking up, leaving just about enough roadspace for Jackson to drive his Limo on the roads and reach an airport. Of course, he needs to know the map, which will lead to the spaceships. And fortunately Gordon can fly a plane. So, he gets back to Yellowstone to recover map from a half lunatic who runs a doomsday radio channel. From that time, its mostly a bumpy ride on the small plane to Las Vegas. This will be a major game: how to fly an aeroplane through buildings, which are crumbling. Of course, for greater impact, the plane just grazes the buildings and cars. In Vegas, enters Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov, his arm candy girlfriend and two children are flying to China...yes, who else...but China to take the onus of building spaceships. So, while the world is being swept away, our Russian billionaire and Jackson gang flies an Antonov megaplane to China with Gordon as co-pilot. Why else would Yuri agree to take them on the plane, which has some cool sports car from the auto show!
Rest of the movie is quite formulaic. A common man, Jackson becomes the hero, representing the good old values of humanity. Poor Chinese workers are displaced and exploited to create space for the secret project, which is disguised as a dam by government machinery. You can easily guess, who will survive and who will not. The hard working scientist, who in a cliched dialogue delivers the fact, that he had not much luck with girlfriends and strikes it well with the First Daughter.
When they were showing, the impact of world opening up, to show world wide pandemonium, they show the statue of Christ coming down in Rio, which you may have seen in the trailers. Also, the Washington Memorial Monument coming down on the President of the United States, who decides along with Italy Premier stays back with their fellow citizens in their hour of need. For India, obviously they couldn't find any suitable mega structures...they just show the devastated roads (actual condition) and the masses walking to nowhere on barren land and gets swayed away by giant waves from a Tsunami.
In the climax, there is a snag in one of the ships and some people are stranded while others are ready to leave. Obviously, there is a villain (any resemblance to ex-President is purely coincidental) who wants to leave everyone and just secure the future of the cream of the society and those who could pay big money. Again Jackson saves the ship as well as take the people on board. Of course, the scientist gives some serious lecture on humanity and values in starting afresh and how his Indian friend, who alerted the world about this disaster couldn't be saved. Yes, my friends...they got it right here. Help from New Delhi didn't arrive on time. So, please don't expect things in India to change in next 3 yrs, at least. Keep an eye on the characters boarding the ship and you will have royalty for Company. A bit cliched though! In between, there is some wisdom from senior Lama, the old man of the East, is also thrown in.
Watch out for major symbolism plays in the movie. My favorite moment, when discreet negotiations are going on for selling tickets to Arab sheikh, it comes at 1bn and the currency is Euro, not USD. Mind it! This happens in 2010. All talks about changing global currency seems to have been kept in mind, while scripting. Another symbolic moment, when The chapel at Vatican, starts cracking, the crack goes between the two fingers in The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. How convenient!
And finally, when the world is ready for a new beginning, you get to hear another great dialogue. Guess what! Africa is the new destination for the world and the ships dock at Cape of Good Hope! Yes, as the captain says, a new hope for the world!
Watch it for true Hollywood scale and high quality special effects and a simulation of global destruction. And, don't forget to thank Roland Emmerich for giving us movies like this.