The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 158 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: John Cusak, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Music by: Harald Kloser & Thomas Wander
Written by: Harald Kloser & Roland Emmerich
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 2, 2010
"We were warned"
From Roland Emmerich, director of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and INDEPENDENCE DAY, comes the ultimate action-adventure film, exploding with groundbreaking special effects. As the world faces a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, cities collapse and continents crumble. 2012 brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.
I think it would be fair to say that the disaster film genre has been well tapped by writer/director Roland Emmerich. In listening to him it is clear that he considers himself a visionary filmmaker. I would agree with him in that he certainly has a vision and knows how to clearly apply it using his films as a conveyance. I find the grandiose style and epic scope of his movies to be entertaining regardless of their formulaic nature. 2012 is an adventure film that depicts the Mayan prophecy of the demise of the world in the year 2012. The story centers around the world’s attempt to preserve humanity by uniting to build large vessels capable of saving a pre-selected group of people, animals, and nature’s elements from the destructive floods and land mass shifts that will result from damaging neutrinos emanating from the sun. It focuses on several groups of people beginning with government scientist Adrian Helmsley (Ejiofor), whose close friend Dr. Satnum Tsurutani (Mistry) first discovers the impending destruction of the planet and alerts him. Adrian immediately reports the findings to our government officials and the remaining world nations are brought onboard. With Adrian’s help a plan is formulated and put into place based upon the predicted timelines established. A decision is made not to alert the world as this could cause a collapse in the economy, basic services and standard of living. Adrian struggles with the decision to keep the world in the dark and finds himself constantly at odds with his boss Carl Anheuser (Platt), a bureaucrat that simply sees things in black and white. Jackson Curtis (Cusack), a divorced author, his ex-wife Kate (Peet), their two kids, and her new husband Gordon (McCarthy) inadvertently discover the truth after Jackson takes the kids on a camping trip to a national park where they meet Charlie Frost (Harrelson), an underground radio show host (who broadcasts from his RV), who preaches to his minions about the impending world demise and the apparent signs that no one publicly acknowledges. While Jackson initially sees Charlie as a harmless radical, events unfold quickly that support everything he claims. One of which is that the government is building a ship that is designed to save a select group from the impending world wide destruction. Within a day of their meeting the world begins to experience a series of planetary land mass shifts and devastating earthquakes. Jackson, realizing what lies ahead, manages to get to Kate, Gordon and the kids in time to get them out of the city before it is swallowed up by the large quakes that hit California. They are now racing against time in order to find Charlie and obtain the location of the ship in the hope that they can somehow get there and manage to survive the impending decimation of human kind.
Emmerich has a penchant for conveying the human condition under extreme circumstances. This film depicts the struggles of these characters that exist on differing planes but share a common bond. At over two and a half hours it plays a little long however Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser allow plenty of time for character development before unleashing a furious pace that lasts for nearly the duration of the film. This is big budget action and features lots of mind bending special effects coupled along with the requisite formula of drama/suspense/thrills. The script has its share of sentiment, familial bonds, and speaks toward moral responsibility. It some ways it is a sort of modern Noah’s Ark retelling that features a world pulling together for the greater good. It is a little corny? Yeah. Are the special effects over the top? Sure. Does it have epic aspirations? Certainly. It is worthwhile from a mindless yet entertaining perspective? You bet. I sat back and took it in without giving much thought to contrivances or conventional plot points as they are to be expected. There is enough depth to the screenplay, cast, and of course special effects to keep things rolling. I never found myself disinterested. Personally speaking any film starring Amanda Peet is worth giving a shot. I thought the cast was nicely balanced and the script provided many of them with the opportunity to shine. There is no denying that 2012 is a special effect laden spectacle however it successfully managed to integrate the remaining elements of its story well enough that I cared what happened to its characters. It was better than expected and its fantastic audio/video presentation on Blu-ray certainly didn’t hurt either.
The rating is for intense disaster sequences and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
2012 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 mbps.
This is a disaster film that utilizes a variety of visual concepts which includes the blending of CGI/real life and its ability to clearly render its elements under those conditions is essential to getting the most out of it. This presentation excels at delivering first class imagery that is consistent with the better new release films coming to Blu-ray. It offers rich, velvety textured blacks that enhance dimension. The low level and dark sequences look breathtaking. Images are gradationally adept and three dimensionally depicted so that the long drawn skylines, unevenly lit interiors, and shadow laden environs have a seemingly infinite level of depth. Shadow detail is consistent and is probably as good as I have seen. Images are crisp with subtle refinement, resolute sharpness and exquisite three dimensional depth that can be visually arresting. Contrast is strong and dynamic which energizes colors, empowers whites/grays and engages blacks. Colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stood out among those within the varied range used. Fleshtones are beautifully rendered with subtle nuance and lifelike complexional depiction. The video has a pleasing, grain splashed texture, that coincides nicely with it gritty storyline. Other than some very minor banding I found little to complain with respect to fidelity. This plays hand in hand with the film’s stark visual style and provides an incredibly entertaining experience that looks superb regardless of the size of your display.
This lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is demonstration quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems loud. This recording has wide dynamic range and boasts superlative clarity and high level detail that is truly impressive. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It’s located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or inflection of voices. Front channel separation and imaging was excellent. This drew out both large and small sound elements and allowed their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. The mix makes effective and often aggressive use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this demanding soundtrack. The listening position is submerged in a rotating soundscape that is sometimes riveting as it bombards the senses with a combination of well placed sound effects and musical ambience. The low frequency effects are applied authoritatively to underscore the bombastic and aggressive aspects of this soundtrack and it does so quite effectively. This is a sophisticated sound design that is loaded with various sound effects, spatial cues, music, and dialogue. Each was clearly represented with enriching clarity, detail and appropriate sound field placement.
This is a reference quality audio/video presentation that truly enhanced the enjoyment of this film. Those who like playing their systems at reference levels will want to exercise caution as there are transient peaks and extended dynamic range in this recording capable of testing the limits of lesser systems. Enjoy!
- Roland’s vision: Picture in picture BonusView feature
- Commentary with writer/director Roland Emmerich & co-writer Harald Kloser
- (HD) Alternate ending
- (HD) BD previews - Armored, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Angels & Demons, and Planet 51.
- BD-Live enabled
- Interactive Mayan calendar:
- Mysteries of the Mayan calander
- Mayan personality profile
- Mayan horoscope
- (HD) Featurettes:
- Mysteries of the Mayan calendar – 4 minutes
- Designing the end of the world – 26 minutes
- Roland Emmerich: Master of the modern epic – 9 minutes
- Science behind the destruction – 13 minutes
- The end of the world: The actor’s perspective – 7 minutes
- Countdown to the future – 22 minutes
- (HD) 5 deleted scenes
- (HD) “Time for miracles” music video by Adam Lambert
- (HD) Making of “Time for miracles” music video – 3 minutes
- (HD) BD previews – Michael Jackson’s This is it, Close encounters of the third kind, By the people: The election of Barack Obama, Breaking bad
- Digital Copy of 2012
2012 isn’t best picture material but it makes for a reasonably entertaining, special effects laden affair that is exactly what you would expect from filmmaker Roland Emmerich. I went in with low expectations and came away enjoying it more than expected. Its high definition presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Sony makes for a demonstration worthy home theater extravaganza that enthusiasts are sure to appreciate. It comes bundled with an array of bonus supplements designed to enhance the Blu-ray experience while providing a fairly comprehensive look behind the scenes at the film’s production. I found the film enjoyable enough to warrant a rental recommendation however based upon its top notch high definition audio/video quality 2012 deserves further consideration. I have added it to my Blu-ray library and suspect that after experiencing it in your theater room you will as well.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package