Is there anything more fun than the end of the world? Mass destruction, cataclysm, apocalypse --all favorite entertainment devices that lend themselves well to high drama, tension, action, terror, and, of course, amazing special effects. What draws us to fantasies about the destruction of our world?
Don't get me wrong, it's all a lot of fun. It reminds me of a thrill ride at Universal Studios except it lasts a whole lot longer. The special effects are pretty incredible while the action is wonderfully absurd. We witness the longest earthquake in human history with all destruction conveniently choreographed to allow our heroes to barely escape certain death from cracking highways, crashing overpasses, and collapsing buildings. There are fires and explosions. It's all flashy and noisy and great fun as we watch millions die and our largest cities turned to rubble. And that's not all! There are tsunamis, volcanoes, fire from the skies, windstorms of deadly ash. Oh, and did I mention great fun?
I'll have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and apparently I'm not the only one. It's all about the action and effects. The acting is fine and the story is somewhat absurd. You can pretty well guess what's going to happen; who will live and who will die. There are lots of cliches, but that's the way the world ends, right? If you enjoy special effects extravaganzas and exciting on the move action, I highly recommend 2012.
What is it about the end of world that fascinates us so much? I've been a big fan of these types of movies since I was a child and it is still probably my favorite genre. I think World War 2 and the emergence of the atomic age had a lot to do with it. I can't really think of any end of the world movies prior to that big war. Then after Hiroshima we became curious--what if? What if the war to end all wars happened? How will radiation effect us? We saw giant mutants and cities destroyed by radioactive monsters in the films of the 50s. We witnessed worlds where very few people survived.
my review of Knowing and the many interesting comments that follow it.
The trend in zombie films is probably related to the apocalypse mentality as well. The George Romero DEAD trilogy and its spinoffs and remakes and the infatuation with zombies seems to have a lot to do with end times. The recent zombies are not the voodoo zombies of old. These new zombies are brain eating terrors that seemed to have been activated from death sleep by some fluke of the modern age. Who doesn't at least secretly like zombies?
Might it be that we humans have this hidden desire to rid the world of us? And while we're at it maybe take everything else with it? There seems to be a curiosity to see the world knocked off its axis and split apart, or maybe better blown apart. There are some Biblical implications here as well. Christians, as well as other religions, look to the destruction of this world so it can be replaced by God's new better world. For some of us we may be looking forward to this renewal of earth into heaven. Maybe it would be a good thing to see God trash this world and start anew.
Until the ultimate day of doom arrives I'm sure we'll see more books about the topic and more films with better special effects. Let's hope they come up with better stories as well. But, hey, if it's a good noisy thrill ride then that's okay too.
Are you a fan of apocalyptic films? What are your favorites? What do you think is the reason for the popularity of these types of films?