2012 is a 2009 American science-fiction, apocalyptic, disaster film directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich. The film is about a global cataclysmic event that is bringing an end to the world in the year 2012 and tells the heroic struggle of the survivors. The film contains references to the Mayanism, the Mayan Long-Count calendar and the 2012 phenomenon.
The film received mixed reviews from critics, praising the writing, acting, character development, musical score, special effects, and the dark tone compared to Emmerich's other work, while others criticize the 158-minute length and parts from the screenplay. Despite this, it was a huge commercial and box office success and it is currently one of the highest grossing films of 2009.
In 2009, Adrian Helmsley, an American geologist visits Dr. Satnam Tsurutani in India and learns that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are causing the temperature of the Earth's core to increase rapidly. Adrian informs White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser and United States President Thomas Wilson that this will trigger a catastrophic chain of natural disasters.
In 2010, Wilson, along with other international leaders, begin a massive, secret project intended to ensure that humanity survives. Approximately 400,000 people are chosen to board ships called "Arks" that are constructed at Cho Ming, Tibet in the Himalayas. Additional funding for the project is raised by selling tickets to the private sector for €1 billion per person.
By 2011, they start to secretly move humanity's valuable treasures to the Himalayas under the guise of protecting them from terrorist attacks, so that their history can survive when the end comes with the help of art expert and First Daughter Dr. Laura Wilson.
In 2012, Jackson Curtis is a science-fiction writer in Los Angeles who works part-time as a limousine driver for Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov. Jackson's ex-wife Kate and their children Noah Curtis and Lily Curtis live with Kate's boyfriend, plastic surgeon and amateur pilot, Gordon Silberman. Jackson takes Noah and Lily camping in Yellowstone National Park, where they meet Charlie Frost, who hosts a radio show from the park. Charlie references a theory from Professor Charles Hapgood that polar shifts, the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar predicts that the 2012 apocalypse is going to occur. He has a map of the ark project in addition to information of government officials and scientists from around the world who discovered this were killed in various accidents when they tried to warn the world.
The family returns home as seismic activity vastly increases along the West Coast. Jackson grows suspicious as he realizes that it is December 21st, 2012 and the apocalypse is beginning. Jackson rents a plane to rescue his family. He collects his family and Gordon as the Earth Crust Displacement begins, and they narrowly escape Los Angeles using a Cessna 340 as the city sinks into the Pacific Ocean.
As millions die in cataclysmic earthquakes worldwide, the group flies to Yellowstone to retrieve Charlie's map, escaping as the Yellowstone Caldera erupts. Charlie, who stayed behind to broadcast the eruption, is killed in the blast. Learning the arks are in China, the group lands in Las Vegas, where they meet Yuri, his twin sons, girlfriend Tamara, and pilot Sasha. The group secures an Antonov 500 aircraft and departs for China. Also heading for the arks aboard Air Force One are Anheuser, Helmsley, and First Daughter Laura Wilson. President Wilson chooses to remain in Washington D.C. and is soon killed by a mega-tsunami which sends the USS John F. Kennedy crashing into the White House. With the Vice President also dead and the Speaker of House missing, Anheuser assumes de facto leadership of the United States of America, although he is not in the line of succession.
Arriving in China in a crash landing that kills Sasha, the group is then spotted by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Yuri and his sons, possessing tickets, are taken to the arks. The Curtis family, Gordon, and Tamara, none of whom possess tickets, are picked up by Nima, a Buddhist monk on his way to the arks. They stowaway with the help of Nima's brother, Tenzin, who has been working on the ark project. A mega-tsunami approaches the site as tens of thousands of people are attempting to board the final ark when a large impact driver becomes lodged between the gears of the ark's hydraulics chamber, preventing a boarding gate from closing and rendering the ship unable to start its engines. In the ensuing chaos, Yuri, Gordon, and Tamara are killed, Tenzin is wounded and the flooding ark is set adrift. Jackson and Noah free the impact driver from the closing mechanism, and the crew regains control of the ark, preventing a fatal collision with Mount Everest.
On Day 27, Month 01 and Year 0001, the global floodwaters from the tsunamis recede, and the three arks set sail for the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, where the Drakensberg Mountains have risen in relation to sea level. Jackson reconciles with Kate and his family and Adrian starts a relationship with Laura. The Earth is shown from space, revealing a radically changed continental landscape.
- John Cusack as Jackson Curtis, a science-fiction writer who has to work as a limousine driver to make ends meet. He struggles to protect his family in order to escape the cataclysmic events in the year 2012.
- Chiwetel Ejiofor as Dr. Adrian Helmsley, geologist and Chief Science Advisor to the US President. He is also a fan of Jackson Curtis' work.
- Amanda Peet as Kate Curtis, a medical student and Jackson's ex-wife.
- Liam James as Noah Curtis, Jackson and Kate's son.
- Morgan Lily as Lilly Curtis, Jackson and Kate's daughter.
- Thandie Newton as Dr. Laura Wilson, an art expert, and President Wilson's daughter.
- Thomas McCarthy as Dr. Gordon Silberman, Kate's current boyfriend who is a plastic surgeon.
- Danny Glover as Thomas Wilson, the President of the United States.
- Oliver Platt as Carl Anheuser, the White House Chief of Staff.
- Woody Harrelson as Charlie Frost, a fringe science conspiracy theorist, and radio talk show host.
- John Billingsley as Professor Frederick West, a scientist, and colleague of Dr. Adrian Helmsley.
- Jimi Mistry as Dr. Satnam Tsurutani, an astrophysicist who discovers the neutrinos that are warming the Earth's crust.
- Zlatko Burić as Yuri Karpov, a Russian billionaire, and former boxer.
- Beatrice Rosen as Tamara Jikan, the girlfriend of Yuri.
- Alexandre and Philippe Haussmann as Alec and Oleg Karpov, Yuri's twin sons.
- Johann Urb as Sasha, a pilot who works for Yuri.
- Agam Darshi as Aparna Tsurutani, wife of Dr. Satnam Tsurutani
- Chin Han as Tenzin, an ark worker who attempts to save his family.
- Osric Chau as Nima, a Buddhist monk and the brother of Tenzin.
- Tseng Chang as Grandfather Sonam, grandfather of Nima and Tenzin.
- Lisa Lu as Grandmother Sonam, grandmother of Nima and Tenzin.
- Blu Mankuma as Harry Helmsley, Adrian's father who is Tony's singing partner.
- George Segal as Tony Delgatto, a jazz singer who is Harry's partner.
- Stephen McHattie as Captain Michaels, the captain of Ark 4.
- Patrick Bauchau as Roland Picard, the Director of the Louvre who is killed in a car bomb by the U.S. government.
- Henry O as Lama Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk.
- Karin Konoval as Sally, President Wilson's secretary.
- Dean Marshall as Ark Communications Officer
- Zinaid Memisevic as Sergey Makarenko, the President of Russia.
- Merrilyn Gann as German Chancellor
- Lyndall Grant as Governor of California
- Vincent Cheng as Chinese Colonel
- Leonard Tenisci as Italian Prime Minister
- Elizabeth Richard as Queen Elizabeth II
- Parm Soor as Saudi Prince
List of disasters
Disasters seen in the film.
Critics gave 2012 mixed reviews, praising its writing, acting, character development, musical score, special effects, and tone but criticizing its length (158 minutes) and parts from the screenwriting.
Despite mixed reviews, 2012 earned $166,112,167 in North America and $603,567,306 in other territories for a worldwide total of $769,679,473. Worldwide it is the 50th highest-grossing film, the fifth highest-grossing 2009 film and the fifth highest-grossing film distributed by Sony/Columbia, behind Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and Skyfall. It is also the second highest grossing film directed by Emmerich, behind Independence Day. On its worldwide opening weekend, it made $230.5 million, marking the fourth-largest opening of 2009 and the fourth-largest for Sony/Columbia.
- Some cinemas started the film at 20:12 (8:12 pm).
- Charlie Frost's animation about the end of the world heavily references the animated Internet meme, "The End of the World", which centers around the idea that humanity will kill itself as a whole before any natural disaster would ever have the time to destroy it.