Posted November 12, 2009 in Film

If I had $12 and 2½ hours to spare, hell yes I’d see Roland Emmerich’s latest, greatest disastro-ganza a second time. This may be the ultimate achievement of his career. It’s certainly hard to top. He’s destroyed every corner of the planet as though the map has folded in on itself—Mount Everest is taken down by a flood. The cause is Mayan-predicted, scientist-extrapolated nonsense that translates to: the sun is melting the earth’s crust. That’s bad. Global leaders have had short warning and they’ve used it to build secret arks to house themselves, great works of art, assorted zoo creatures and whatever plebeians can afford the 1 billion Euro fare. (Nice dis on the dollar.) Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser are passingly interested in the philosophy of merit, art and human worth (Da Vinci is on board; the Chinese ark builders aren’t.)—but he’s focused on wrecking the world and it’s wicked fun. The actors are tools and they know it, but John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Oliver Platt are good enough sports—and talents—that they at least try to hold their own against the lava balls. Their escapes are wholly ridiculous excuses for applause, particularly the first-car-then-plane near-miss tear out of Los Angeles as the Pacific Coast crumbles away. I won’t justify the cornball dialogue or get into the thorny debate over whether a good dumb movie disqualifies itself by striving to be dumb. Any critic who decries Emmerich for slaughtering people for kicks has a point. (And it may be even worse that he first tries to make us like them.) But this blockbuster set a goal and slamdunked it, squeezing in so much entertainment that by the credits, I’d forgotten about Woody Harrelson’s turn as a pickle-chomping AM radio meteorological messiah. And then I remembered. And then I smiled. 


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