2012 Blu-ray Review

It is hard not to feel dirty enjoying California sliding into the Pacific Ocean in Roland Emmerich’s 2012 on Blu-ray in the aftermath of the great earthquakes in Haiti and more recently Chile. Here is a film glorifying gratuitous death and destruction on an equally intimate and epic scale unseen before while two countries struggle with the tragic loss of thousands to similar albeit smaller events. Neither of these natural disasters had occurred when 2012 was released theatrically, yet the irony now is ominous and disturbing to confront.

As Emmerich’s resume has proven he is the master of weaving political undercurrents into toppling man’s greatest architectural landmarks while his flawed characters find redemption after narrowly escaping numerous close calls with death. 2012 is the Mona Lisa of his work with effects sequences so stunning and enormous that the plug-and-play cast featuring John Cusask, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt and Amanda Peet are drowned out in their wake. The Day After Tomorrow’s ice age is child’s play in comparison to our planet tearing itself apart from the inside out, a testament as much to the digital effects artists as to Emmerich’s insatiable ambition to raise the bar.

High-Def Presentation
2012 comes to Blu-ray with an above average 1080p video transfer and absolutely amazing 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. All the scenes of mass destruction, especially those involving water which are many, are accompanied by bombastic bass and surround use as expected from a disaster film. Because 2012 is laced with scenes of Earth falling apart, the audio track is given ample opportunity to fire on all cylinders. The video presentation is also strong though the inconsistency jumping between all-digital effects shots and softer film shots can be distracting in high definition (though probably less so on DVD).

Beyond the Feature
Sony is marketing 2012 as a two-disc release despite the set including a third disc dedicated to a digital copy. Applause to them for that, and also for including more bonus features exclusive to Blu-ray than appears on the DVD as well as a nice embossed outer sleeve for the thick packaging.

Given 2012’s success relies almost squarely on its effects, the big question you will want answered after viewing the film is “how did they do that?” The answer is only found on the Blu-ray edition in the ‘Designing the End of the World’ featurette on disc two. The other must-see stops are also on the second disc and include a breakdown of the Mayan calendar that influenced the film and a separate featurette, ‘Science Behind the Destruction,’ that tries to rationalize the Mayan Calendar’s prediction via a scientific analysis, and ‘Countdown to the Future’ which is a History Channel-type exploration of the Mayan calendar and myths designed to scare you into building an escape boat. All of those are exclusive to Blu-ray as well.

Disc One

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Roland Emmerich and Co-Writer Harold Kloser
  • Alternate Ending (3:39, HD)
  • Blu-ray Exclusive: Picture-in-Picture: Roland’s Vision
  • BD Exclusive: movieIQ and BD-Live

Disc Two

  • BD Exclusive: Digital Copy for PSP
  • BD Exclusive: Interactive Mayan Calendar (HD)
  • BD Exclusive: Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar (3:53, HD)
  • 5 Deleted Scenes (4:55, HD)
  • BD Exclusive: Designing the End of the World (26:03, HD)
  • Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic (9:31, HD)
  • BD Exclusive: Science Behind the Destruction (13:19, HD)
  • BD Exclusive: The End of the World: The Actor’s Perspective (7:34, HD)
  • BD Exclusive: Adam Lambert ‘Time for Miracles’ Music Video (4:19, HD)
  • BD Exclusive: Making the Music Video (2:43, HD)
  • BD Exclusive: Countdown to the Future (22:03, HD)

Despite the tragic current events in our world that 2012’s Blu-ray release is ill-timed with, Roland Emmerich’s latest popcorn disaster flick is his best yet and should be enjoyed on a purely superficial level. The bonus features appropriately deconstruct the effects and expand upon the Mayan ideas presented in the film, while the high-def presentation is the type that will prove how adequate your audio and video gear really is. The only unanswered question, aside from the obvious will 2012 really happen, is how can Emmerich top this lesson in annihilation, or will he even try?

– Dan Bradley

Shop for 2012 on Blu-ray at a discounted price from Amazon.com.

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