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observation notes: 2012 Doomsday

The Asylum has done a few apocalypse films at this point; they've even done a couple of films with 2012 in the title. But this particular film, distributed by The Asylum's Christian off-shoot Faith Films ("wait..." you're thinking, "Christian off-shoot? WTF?" Marketplace people, you've got to know the marketplace, and currently it's filled with 250,000,000 Christians, so...), so you know in addition to action, intrigue and chaotic destruction, you're also going to be getting a healthy dose of sermonizin'. I mean, for Chr- for Pete's sake, the marker on the title menu is a cross. No veils here, people, just sayin'.

Anywho, this film's another take on the popular Mayan prophecy that ends with, well, the world ending, kind of like Roland Emmerich's 2012, but released two years prior, so this one isn't exactly a tie-in as much as it is a stand-alone, action-packed, fanatic and fundamentalist sci-fi epic. The film opens in Mexico, naturally, with only "36 hours before Doomsday," as text reveals. Foreshadowing. There, volcanic eruptions are freaking out American seismologists (including Dale Midkiff and Caroline Amiguet) who can't figure why the Earth is being torn apart. The answer, pieced together by them and us, has something to do with a crucifix found buried in a Mayan temple. Jump to a team of scientists back in the states (lead by Cliff De Young) who puts this conundrum into words by hypothesizing the destruction is being caused by the slowing rotation of the planet due to an alignment with a black hole at the center of our galaxy (that's verbatim, so if it doesn't make sense, don't shoot the messenger), the bottom line being: how the fuck do you stop that?

This premise laid out, the various characters and storylines begin to settle into place: the team of scientists, the seismologists, a dashing photojournalist and a missionary (who happens to be Cliff De Young's character's daughter, played by the always delightful Danae Nason), and a precognitive holy image scribbler/EMT and her very zealous mother. Together this cast forms the five points of a star at the center of this film's universe, their connections slowly coming to light (sorry, all the religious rhetoric has me feeling a little elegiac).

Anyway, the scientists learn that whatever's happening, it will continue to happen until, well, until shit's just gone. Along the path to utter destruction, we're presented with all angles of human perspective on religion: the fervent, the logical, the skeptical, the outright disbelieving, et cetera. As such, there's a lot of talking for a supposed action film, and it's all pretty pointed. If you're one of those sorts who can't hear any religious conversation without getting worked up one way or the other, maybe skip this; but if you can (not) believe and let (not) believe, it's a pretty entertaining film, especially as it's not as fatalistic as Emmerich's 2012, where shit's going down no matter what - there's a chance to save the world here, somewhat literal, this savior, but it can cosmically cease the planetary destruction, taking a little of the edge off.

The above-mentioned perspectives are played out through the various characters' various and interwoven stories, much like Deep Impact or Independence Day, and as each progresses, attitudes are validated or changed by the global, unimaginable destruction, mounting towards a blissfully uplifting and faith-affirming ending.

2012 Doomsday was written and directed by Nick Everhart, and shot by the ever-present Mark Atkins. Stars De Young and Midkiff (both from something called the "Love" series, a few TV movies starring Katherine Heigl before we had to like her) are "stars" here the way Bruce Davison and Brooke Burns are "stars" of Titanic II: they're names, so they get the billing, when it's really the smaller names, the lesser-knowns, who carry the film. Notable among these lesser-knowns (only to some - the "lesser-known" part, not the "notable" part) is, as mentioned, Ms. Nason as the missionary, who in a reversal from the slutty office-mate she played in Pod People proves just how good an actress she is, such range, and Ami Dolenz (She's Out of Control, Ticks, Monkee Mickey Dolenz' loins), who it was nice to see again. I think the last time I saw her she was in some Witchboard shit. She's aged really well, still cute as a button, which makes her hardships that much more empathetic even though the drama is kind of out of her reach. Who cares, right? Cute blond girls do no wrong. Truthfully, however, things might have worked better with Ms. Dolenz as the wide-eyed missionary and Ms. Nason as the hardened, atheistic EMT. And Caroline Amiguet, she just looks like a French Kristin Wiig.

Overall, the FX were okay, reminiscent - loosely - of the other 2012. The script is a little heavy-handed from a secular point of view, but the secular point of view isn't the intended perspective at all. Maybe too many characters and stories for an 85 minute film, as not all were as fleshed out as I would have liked, but this one's all about the message, not the messengers. Neat but not great, I'd say, acknowledging, again, that I'm not at all the intended audience. From what I've seen of other such films, however, this one's above par. Bottom line, if you ain't in the fold, bring a big ole grain of salt with you to this one; either way, you'll be entertained, and isn't that the point?

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