By Eric Henderson

We all hate previews that spoil everything about the movies they’re teasing, right? Well, what can you say about a movie that is effectively obliterated by two fake parody trailers on YouTube?

At the risk of spoiling the sausage by separating the pieces that went into the making of director Roland Emmerich’s latest epic Tinkertoy tantrum, take a look at the following viral videos. The first one is a trailer made up entirely of the non-special effects-laden shots in 2012. The second is a rollicking, cheery compilation of nothing but visual effects shots.

You want to know the punchline? Both of these trailers are actually a more satisfying experience than the whole enchilada. The problem with 2012, a pompous depiction of the end of the world based loosely on the notion that Mayans pinpointed the exact date Earth would meet its demise, isn’t that Emmerich doesn’t believe in his material. After all, the man already has Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow under his belt.

No, if anything, Emmerich believes in his material too much. In his quest to make, as the second trailer linked above puts it, the disaster movie to end all disaster movies, he badly misjudges the amount of audience goodwill toward trash that accepts its own trashiness. I won’t be surprised if, 30 years from now when the visual effects that represent this movie’s only real ace in the hole look as dated as the toy boat in The Poseidon Adventure, movie geeks have more affection for the, um, knowing ridiculousness of this year’s earlier Knowing.

Not that anyone expects a movie in which nearly 7 billion people die horribly atop terra farta to embrace its inner screwball, but Emmerich’s standard approximations of scope (i.e. a postcard tour of the world’s landmarks, a genetically and ethically diverse cross-sectioning of humanity foregrounded as main characters) become a slog quickly.

And despite his admitted skill with the catastrophic money shot (my favorite, and certainly still the creepiest post-9/11, was a plane’s-eye view of people falling out of a collapsing office building), the end of the world becomes distressingly tedious by about three rumbling Earth ruptures in. We get more than enough fire and brimstone, but then we also get the black snow and the endless series of final phone calls and a dutifully corpulent Oliver Platt saving the world’s rich people and declaring himself President of the world, and that’s just depressing.

But hey, I could just be misguidedly sensitive to whatever catharsis 2012 has to offer. Here’s an incredibly foul-mouthed counterpoint someone pointed me toward.

Eric Henderson is a web producer and film blogger for WCCO.COM.


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