November 13, 2009

Okay, the world is about to end, the earth’s core is too hot, the government’s behind a grand conspiracy. I’m with you so far, and then you had to mention about the “space ships”. Now, I’m finding that a little hard to believe... One Word Movie Review: GOOD
2012 gives you a front row seat to witness the world crumbling to dust, the death of billions of people and all for the sake of glorious entertainment and by God, it works as a spectacle beyond anything you’ve seen before. The same thrill-seeking voyeurism that makes people chase fire engines or crawl past car crashes drives this epic tale of the collapse of civilization under the awesome power of unbridled nature. You know a movie has touched a nerve when NASA feels compelled to issue a debunk of the scientific malarkey behind 2012, where the alignment of planets create massive solar flares which heat up the earth’s core to the point where the continental crusts we all live on separate and slide around like pads of butter on a hot skillet, causing massive earthquakes, volcanoes and tidal waves. It is truly the end of time, as predicted by the Mayan calendar for the winter solstice in 2012 (Dec. 21 for those who are unsure when the solstice is). The movie keeps a scientific straight face throughout, inventing just the tiniest neutrino fiction to explain why the earth’s core is heating up and then, it is just logical progressions and people’s reactions. The government has a plan, of course. The citizens do not know the plan, of course, because the government fears a mass panic. The plan requires a chosen few to survive and to kill anyone who tries to leak the truth to the public. The extremely

wealthy know, because they can afford a seat at 1 billion euros each (wisely, the organizers behind the massive space ark program didn’t peg the ticket prices to the dropping U.S. dollar – as if any currency will have any value after the world ends…) Our hero also knows the truth because he’s out camping with his kids, jumps a retricted fence and gets captured by the military. He meets up with Crazy Charlie who has a map of where the “space ships” are located. As the insane become keepers of the truth, the cracks in the world begin and the race is on to save yourself, call your loved ones to say good-bye and stay one fireball ahead of Armageddon. Although you may be thinking, gosh this all sounds cheesy and contrived, well you have to see it and it really is “fun” to watch the world’s landmarks disintegrate before your very eyes. The effects are completely over the top, which in this type of movie is a good thing. The characters have their moments, including some humor amid the heroics. There is even a bad guy or two to deflect our minds from mean old Mother Nature and her bad sun which is the true villain in 2012.

The Story
The movie starts with the surface of the sun, where giant solar flares erupt into giant question marks, setting the ominous mood as we scan across the universe to all the planets aligning for the first time in 640,000 years (although movie fans know it happened just a few years ago in the first Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie). From there we meet the scientist who will spill the beans to the President, create a master schedule of doom and work with the mercilessly efficient Administrator of the Apocalypse, Carl Anheuser (played by Oliver Platt). We also meet the “hero”, a writer. Yes, how fantastic is that? Poor Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) is a writer with low sales, a wife who’s moved on to a plastic surgeon and two kids who agree with mom that their dad spends too much time in front of his computer. While trying to camp out, they meet Crazy Charlie (played by Woody Harrelson who’s been on a roll lately with some juicy characters you can’t forget) who provides the thread of hope for our hero. Yes, there is a secret government plan to whisk a select few away from the earth in space ships just before the world ends. Jackson retrieves the map (filed in Crazy Charlie’s conspiracy bookshelf between Roswell and Marilyn Monroe) just as a super-volcano erupts. He drives to the rescue plane, with the volcano on his tail. He drives a lot in this movie. Yes, he is a limo driver (day job) and a writer (creative pastime) and most of all, a father who protects his family even if they don’t love him any more. From the volcano, we move around to Vegas, Washington, Rome and Paris, all leading to the mountains of Tibet where the mother ships are being prepared for take-off. As one wise monk notes, “to see the light of wisdom, you must first empty your cup”. Presumably there is a hole in the bottom of the cup you can look through to see the wisdom light. In this movie, you really need to empty your popcorn because there’s so much getting destroyed while you chomp away. Look, there goes the Sistene Chapel, the Washington Monument and, whoops, the White House smashed by the JFK aircraft carrier! Hey, who ate all the popcorn?

The Genre
The disaster movie was popular in the 1970’s during the recession and now, the current recession has seen the box office reward more disaster movies, this time about the end of

the world. Knowing hit #1 in March, where the world ended according to prophecy and the kids were saved by aliens in space ships. Watchmen was #1 in March as well, with the threat of nuclear destruction avoided by the wipe-out of New York. Last December was the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still where aliens start destroying the world and recently we had 9, with the world already ended and only puppets remained to keep mankind’s memory alive. The bigger question is why we like to witness disasters? Does it represent our desire to see the world’s order overthrown? Are we resigned to our fate, as so many religions have predicted the end of days in one form or another? Is it just the Lion King’s circle of life resonating with audiences? For a variety of reasons, we seem drawn to disasters and the hope of survival against impossible odds, like the person who survives for days under the rubble of a collapsed building. We have little control over our lives but we need hope to keep us going. After the economic collapse of last fall, people are still unsure of the future so anything that gives hope, even if it is “gosh, at least it wasn’t the end of the world” on the worry scale, is a good thing. In these movies, the hero is the human spirit, our collective will to survive as a species. We see enough extinction of other species around us, yet optimistically we think we will be here forever. Is it luck, our ability to adapt, our clever brains harnessing nature’s bounty or just the hope of another day? You leave these movies thinking, heck I better stop putting off that hike along the coast or that family reunion because we could all be dead tomorrow. Then, of course, there is the other school of thought that if the entire universe collapsed around us, it would only kill you once. So get on with what you were doing.

The Overall Quality
2012 is a visual treat. Rarely has so many familiar monuments crumbled so splendidly as in this movie. The director, Roland Emmerich has made a career out of destroying the White House but in this movie, he crushes it under a tidal wave carrying the John Kennedy aircraft carrier. In most landmark crushes, Emmerich tosses in a bit of cheek, as in splitting the Sistene Chapel down the middle, between God’s finger and Adam’s in the act of Creation. The scale of destruction is truly epic, with LA cracking along fault lines and sliding into the Pacific Ocean. Not just with shading on a map, but you actually see the coast tilt down and down into the depths. The actors make it as real as can be expected, given the silliness of the goings-on around them. To actually outrun an exploding super-volcano in an old Winnebago with fireballs landing everywhere but on your roof is absurd but somehow John Cusack pulls it off with a straight face, as Amanda Peet hangs out of the airplane door with her hand reaching out for him to grab, oh so anxious for him to run faster, faster. Which he will, or the movie is over. The script also gives some characters a choice, whether to try and survive or face the obvious death with dignity and a shared community of acceptance. The President stays behind, to comfort the nation and those around him as the end closes in. We all need those moments of choice, to decide how to face our moment of death. Unfortunately, the script dances around this decision by making the government party to a secret conspiracy to hide the truth until the very end, robbing their own citizens of any chance to prepare themselves for the end. My vote for best destructive scene has to be the eruption of the super-volcano with Crazy Charlie on the hilltop, broadcasting live over the radio to his listeners, embracing the fury of the end. Others have had movie moments like this, back to Jimmy Cagney in White Heat, “Made it,

Ma! Top of the world!” Woody will be up there with Cagney in my books, arms out, beard flowing and a big smile of exultation as he expires in a blaze of white volcanic heat.

Movie/Market Analysis
MarketBOB’s sentiment indicators, the GQS (Genre, Quality, Story) rate 2012 an emotional BULL. If you take this movie at face value (and there isn’t any other way to enjoy it – please don’t think this has any prophetic insights) it is a fun, cool ride through the worst day on earth, ever. This movie gives you many reasons to remain optimistic about the future. If Hollywood is willing to spend millions on a story where everybody dies and the world is destroyed, figuring we’d enjoy a movie like this, they must be on to something about the nature of the human spirit, willing to watch the wipe-out and remain hopeful about the future and our place in it. As the theme of the movie is summed up by one character, “I thought we’d have more time…” we all realize we may or may not have all the time in the world so let’s get on with it before it’s too late. I mean, it was only a few weeks ago we were watching Michael Jackson dance and sing, the greatest recording artist of all time. Now out of time. So, after you read this or watch the movie, go out and do something you promised yourself you were going to do but hadn’t got around to doing yet. Move it, buster! The world could end any day now. For the latest reviews and analysis of movies and their impact on market psychology, go to www.marketbob.com Try a free subscription for one month to The Red Carpet Report, the only place for detailed analysis, trading strategies and trends to help you beat the DOW! Sign up and get a free research gift (limited time offer) at http://ideariffic.com/marketbob/newsletter_sign_up.htm MarketBOB is ahead of the DOW by over 100% since 2004! more...
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