Movie Review – 2012 (PG-13)

If a film critic awards four stars to a movie directed by Roland Emmerich — Hollywood’s reigning king of catastrophe, the critically scorned director of “Independence Day” and “Godzilla” — will the world come to an end? That’s a question the ancient Mayans never asked, but it’s the one facing me after the enormously satisfying, astonishingly accomplished, reprehensible-yet-irresistible “2012,” the crowning achievement in Emmerich’s long, profitable career as a destroyer of worlds.

Starting with the long-held misapprehension that the Mayan calendar picks 2012 as the date of humanity’s doom, Emmerich fleshes out that bit of pseudo-history with some pseudo-science — some nonsense about solar flares, and neutrinos heating the Earth’s core — and throws hundreds of millions of dollars and an expertly chosen cast at it. The result is a movie that takes the manifold guilty pleasures of such past Emmerich extravaganzas as “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” — not to mention the Emmerich-inspired “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact” — and amplifies and expands them until they fill up 2 1/2 overstuffed hours.

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