Early in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic 2012 received renewed interest and became the second-most popular film on Netflix in March. Almost a year on, the pandemic is sadly still going strong, but those feelings we had when it all started – that we too were living in an Emmerich disaster movie – have faded. As we enter 2021 continuing to adjust to what is worryingly still becoming a ‘new normal’, Sony have dropped 2012 on 4K UHD Blu-ray so we can enjoy all the carnage of worldwide annihilation in the best possible quality.
While nowhere near as good as Emmerich’s 1996 classic Independence Day – and thankfully also nowhere near as bad as his 2016 follow-up – 2012 is an underrated disaster flick that harks back to the good old days of the genre. Despite being totally lacking in innovation, unexpected narrative beats or any characters that are particularly interesting, the film is a solid popcorn-muncher filled to the brim with over-the-top action set-pieces that hold up remarkably well 12 years since the film was released back in ’09. Some of the sequences – such as the memorable scene where Los Angeles falls – are genuinely frightening in their portrayal of mother nature’s knack for swift destruction and harrowing carnage. While 2020-21 might be a strange time for this kind of escapism, as we continue to live through a global pandemic that has taken almost 2 million lives, there’s no denying that at the very least Roland Emmerich certainly knows how to make things go boom in a remarkably effective way.
2012’s greatest weakness is its length. Clocking in at just over two and a half hours, there’s only so much destruction we as an audience can take. And when that dries up, it’s up to John Cusack to try and inject some emotion and character into the film which, thanks to Harald Kloser and Emmerich’s script, is severely lacking. As with the majority of disaster movies, so much focus has been put on the mayhem that any character development or heart seems to be a rushed afterthought. Despite a great supporting cast including Woody Harrelson, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Oliver Platt, there’s only so much they can do with the material which gives all the meat to the CGI carnage and leaves only the bones for the human cast.
Still, 2012 is on the whole an effective thrill-ride that is largely exciting and compelling viewing. This new 4K UHD release from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment sees the film looking and sounding better than ever, and brings that sweet destruction to life like never before. This release probably isn’t going to win over any new fans for the popcorn flick, but those with soft spots for Emmerich’s flair for disaster will be delighted with the sparkling picture quality and booming sound.