By this point Roland Emmerich has the End of the World disaster movie down to a formula. Mind you, that also means he knows what he’s doing. In 2012, he plays on peoples fears that the Mayans have predicted the end of the world in 2012 as the earth’s crust destabilizes. The plot runs like you would think: there is a build up to the disaster, the disaster and a lot of running away from said disaster, then some down time followed for a final grasp for hope.
But within that framework we are given some really great visuals and some really great action scenes. Emmerich knows what he’s doing here and creates coherence within the chaos. Sure there is some improbability, but at least I didn’t feel like they were insulting the audience’s intelligence like other action/SFX films this year like Transformers 2 and Wolverine. The scenes where they are escaping from vulcanized Yellowstone and collapsing Los Angeles are really fantastic.
The characters are close to paper thin, but they provide enough weight for us to follow them through the picture. The ending climax lets the suspense go on a little too long (a criticism I have with most movies like this) but the visuals are incredible and this movie never reaches for anything more than it is. It chose to be a showcase of what the end of the world in this manner may look like, and it does so very effectively.