Spoilers for 2012 follow. Although I’m not sure giving away the plot to a special effects pornstravaganza constitutes “spoiling” it. It’s a lot like revealing the plot to an actual porn movie–that’s not really why you rented it in the first place.
Roland Emmerich loves to destroy the earth. 2012 is his third disaster epic, after Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. But there’s one crucial difference this time around, and it’s not just the lack of the word “day” in the film’s title. In 2012, the leaders of the world know about the impending apocalypse. They have years to plan. But the plan they come up with is mystifying stupid. Basically, they keep the news very quiet while they construct a bunch of giant boats high in the Himalayas. This is largely financed by charging the richest people in the world one billion euros for tickets.
1. Why not just tell everyone? Evil bureaucrat Oliver Platt explains that there would be complete chaos if the truth got out. The important thing is to preserve the human species, and if everyone knows they are going to die in three years, there’s no way they can pull off the logistics of building and stocking giant-ass boats. There’s a certain logic to that. But I also think that if everyone knows they’re going to die in three years, then everyone would work really, really hard to prevent that. Think about how many giant boats could be built if everyone in the world was spending every waking moment welding? Not to mention, the extreme secrecy means that 99.99% of the world’s smartest scientists never even knew about the problem, much less get a chance to solve it. I’m not saying anyone could have stopped the earth’s crust from collapsing. But they could have tried, or at least corrected some of the dumber parts of the ark plan. For instance…
2. Do you really want to put all your eggs in one basket? The scientists are pretty sure that the end of the world will involve mind-boggling earthquakes, monster volcanoes, and tidal waves the size of mountains. That sounds like a pretty unpredictable situation. And of course, those predictions turn out to be completely wrong–it all goes down about eight years ahead of schedule. So given the circumstances, why would you build all your arks in the exact same place? (Yes, you cut down on cost with economies of scale, but nevermind that.) Even if your predictions are totally right, it seems like there’s a pretty good chance the site you chose is going to be destroyed, damaged, or rendered inaccessible (indeed, one ark is damaged in an earthquake). And if that happens, the entire human race is doomed. A better plan? Build an ark on every tall mountain in the world. That way, at least one might make it through the craziness. This also makes things way easier for the people who are coming onboard–you don’t have to travel around the world to get to safety.
3. Why boats? The scientists know that the eventual, final straw that will wipe everyone out will be a massive tidal wave. Doesn’t it seem like the best plan is to get off the surface of the earth entirely? A fleet of giant zeppelins would be nice. Instead, they build literal arks. How accurately could they predict the size of the wave they were going to be facing? And how accurately could they predict how a wave like that would act? Not to mention, they had no way of testing these arks–they might not even float, for all we know. They’re gambling the entire species (actually, ALL species) on their ability to predict what kind of tidal wave they will be hit with, and designing a boat that can ride it out. I do not like those odds.
4. Why can’t you start the engines until the door closes? This is a major plot point at the end of the film. The giant back door to one of the arks is unable to close (thanks a lot, John Cussack), and the captain explains that he can’t start the engines until it does. This almost leads to the death of one-third of the human race. Now ask yourself: can you think of one single vehicle ever designed that is completely unable to start its engines with the door open? Even a submarine can start its engines and submerge with the hatch open–it’s just not recommended.
I think there may be certain rides at Disneyworld that can’t start with the door open. That’s it.
another stupid thing is the manner in which they tried to save animal species. they took the biblical method of taking 2 of each (at least i didn’t observe more than 2 of anything), and flew them by helicopter up the himalayas. if they animals didn’t die by frostbite, their children would likely die off b/c of the accumulated load of genetic defects from inbreeding.
one might also wonder about the wisdom of inviting so many billionaires on board. since the only capital goods that would survive the catastrophe would be what was aboard the arks, what good would it do to have ppl that wouldn’t be able to contribute to humanity’s survival except by buying things? ok, so those rich ppl could pay a lot of cash for things… what is there to buy? would a saudi prince who inherited his wealth be as useful as a lowly but proficient sewage technician or fisherman?
@pzed – I totally agree with you about the animals! That is indeed a very stupid thing I completely missed.
However, I disagree about the billionaires. Remember, based on the data I got from Forbes, I expect there are only 500 or so billionaires on the arks, out of hundreds of thousands of people. Yes, these plutocrats will probably be dead weight in the post-apocalyptic world, and their money will be completely useless. But the fact remains that Oliver Platt and the gang needed their billions, PRE-apocolypse, to make the whole plan work. By taking the 500 billionaires along, they paid for thousands and thousands of NON-billionaires to survive.
So yes, the Saudi Prince is a lot less useful than the plumber, but taking the Saudi Prince made it POSSIBLE to bring the plumber. I can sort of buy it.
also how did no one else on the planet see it coming? where are the tweeters? is woody harrelson the only conspiracy nut around? grr.
To make the ark plan even more stupid the have built them in the Himalaya. I know that there is not many earthquakes in the Himalaya but they a mountains created by a collison of two tectonic plates. Given the nature of the disaster there is a great chance that the Himalaya would become quite unstable.
Yes, why have only one place to build your wonderful arks? (Other than the fact that China is about the only country left with any serious ability to fabricate such a thing.)
They had to keep it secret or all we would have done is endlessly debate what to do and who should pay for it. (case in point: health care “crisis”)
What I loved is how all the people that had tickets for the damaged ark were just standing around behind the glass doors. I’ve seen less patient folks at airports, no way they were going to just wait for their boarding call. Especially considering the price of tickets.
And of course the exotic animals were doomed, but did they save any chickens or cattle? Or grain? What are all these people going to eat when the MREs run out?
Finally – the world is trashed, hours away from total devastation, and dude in India can still make cell phone calls? I guess there’s a map for that.
4. Why can’t you start the engines until the door closes?
This is in movies way more often then it should be and it annoys me every time. Thank you for pointing it out.
I finally saw this movie today. I distinctly remember a part of the movie explaining that while seats were sold for 1 billion Euro a pop in order to finance the project, the vast majority of people saved were, in fact, ordinary people. The leaders hired geneticists to select the 800,000 (100K per ark) people who would best repopulate the human genetic pool. So it’s not just about how rich you are, but who your parents are (so to speak).
Also: among vehicles that can’t start without the hatch closed: most commercial aircraft and the space shuttle.
P.S. Also, interestingly enough, the movie also heavily implied that all the rich people were assigned the same ark (the so-called green ticket) which ended up being the ark that was damaged. If Oliver Platt had his way and all those people were left behind, then ironically none of the people who financed the project would have been ultimately saved.
@M Chan –
Okay, the bit about hundreds of thousands of people being chosen for their genes raises way WAY more questions than it answers. How, exactly, do you go about finding the most genetically perfect people on Earth? Who gets to decide the criteria? Where do you get everyone’s DNA, and how can you analyze it quickly enough? And more importantly, how are these people told? “The bad news: the world is ending. The good news, we’ve stolen your semen, and we’re very impressed.” And how can you POSSIBLY stop these lucky few from leaking the truth to someone? I believe the billionaires keeping it a secret, because they are douches.
And wait a minute: isn’t this EUGENICS? Isn’t there something really creepy about picking who get to survive based on their DNA?
I can definitely understand why the screenwriters decided to skim over this as quickly as possible.
I have been swabed at my doctor for cancer study,knowing as the nurse swabbed both sides of my mouth so I sure they now have my DNA.
I presume they simply meant to preserve genetic *diversity*
I stumbled on this site by coincidence. Just wanted to say that I like the kind of perspective you give on films. And thank you for convincing me to watch 2012 after all. It sounds too horrible to pass up.
Zeppelins? Do you know how inefficient that would be? A zeppelin requires a HUGE mass to carry a very small amount of people…
A zeppelin would be close to the size of NYC to carry wall street it would not work. You would be better to put balloons in the sky. And that’s stupid too. Ships would work in more ways than one.Sure build the big arks,but remember all the war ships that are sitting there waiting to be scrapped. Gut the inside and build cells for single peeps and two or three cells for families think if how many could fit in a carrier alone.gut them fill them in time to have all of the warships and anyone with a decent boat u sail for the middle of the oceans and seas that way when the flooding hits land the will be safe at least better than a port or land
If there was a natural disaster of apocalyptic proportion, wouldn’t there be very very strong wind?
If everyone knew there wouldn’t be a lot of resources for everyone.
True but make a ship to grow food and meat animals a carrier deck would work as gardens. And both people livestock.goats small but supply milk and meat.cows feed a lot but eats a lot of grass and grain. And so on..poop fertilizer.
You people are ridiculous, it’s just a freaking movie it isn’t suppose to be freaking real, it’s for entertainment so do everyone a favor and stop complaining, you’re just ruining it for others
I agree with another comment I saw that by telling the world that the chit is going to hit the fan, 80% would work to put a hell of a lot more arks in service; literally thousands. But mt biggest objection was the calculated dimensions of the arks based on the scene showing the arcs and the cruise liner in the same scene. This would give the ships a length of about 10,500′ a beam (width) of 1600′ and a draft of 550′ just to keep the 1200′ above the water line with a stable center of gravity and prevent roll overs. Then, based on state rooms of 400 square feet for families of 4 to 6;the capacity to carry 8 million humans per ship. And if you packed them as tightly as a military barracks, as many as 40 million with supplies for all of them for a year. A fun movie, but not very plausible. I would like to see someone build a ship of that size someday. People could sail the world visiting land only via cruise liners or jumbo jets that could land on the roof
actually, the Ark would not help at all, because the contents of the Ark is the contract that the Hyksos had to sign with the Egyptians who kicked them out when they had to flee through the Sea of Reeds in the Nile swamplands. The Egyptians hated them because they practiced human sacrifices, esp. murdering first born babies.
You’re kinda stupid yourself. What does it matter whether the engines start or not when the BLOODY DOOR IS OPEN. It’s going to flood the insides, engines won’t change that. And why would you ever tell the public? Any scientist important to predicting the catastrophe that hadn’t been paying attention isn’t worth bringing. Really? You think these great scientists are worth bringing when they don’t even notice what’s happening? I do think they should’ve made sure masters of every important field were brought, and hopefully they stored a lot of important information and even textbooks so we don’t go back to the Stone Age when the adults inevitably die before recivilizing the world and they aren’t able to pass on everything they know since they probably forgot a lot of it. Telling the public means looting and anarchy that gets in the way of surviving. People are stupid. Plenty of them wouldn’t even believe you. The wealthy were necessary so they could fund the damn things, and they’re not going to just forget about the end of them world, so if you try to go behind their backs and leave them behind, they have the resources to find out and they’re sure as hell going to obstruct your progress in some way. I don’t understand why they took the Queen of England though. All her money comes from UK taxes and she’s going to die any day now. She also has negative worth as a drain on medical resources with absolutely no contribution. They brought that tourist attraction over more scientists and doctors. Another point, this was all funded by the rich, obviously they get on the boats, they own them. Even if it was purely based on merit, you’d never get a chance at getting in that boat. Saving art was kinda stupid. I guess I can’t understand art, but I just see it as stupidly clinging to “culture” that isn’t remotely necessary and is given way more worth than it deserves. Is the Mona Lisa nice? Not really, it’s kinda ugly and even though people love the style, it looks like shit to me. It definitely didn’t deserve to get on the arcs
The age imbalance skewing towards infertility and gender imbalance skewing toward male was so obviously dumb. A bunch of billionaires and government or military guys over 50, some women, most over 30, very few kids? There were definitely more males than females on the ark, which is ass backwards. I could see doing a 1:1 ratio due to cultural blunders about monogamy, but mostly men makes not a lick of sense. Fertile females can both be be trained to do anything men do AND repopulate the earth, of course you need males as well but not as many. And you want at least 50% of ppl between say 8 and 20 yrs old, so theyll be at their peak in terms of athleticism and fertility in the next 5 – maybe 10 yrs.
I was just curious about 2012 the movie why more people were not saved. Only 2 direct links between 2012 and Noah’s ark.
Existence of ark and bringing animals to preserve that animal.
However the picture of cartoon Noah’s ark is completely strawman – misrepresenting the actual ark. Making it a bathtub ark and overstuffing it with huge animals is fiction and that just perpetuates it in an endless cycle to be fiction.
Noah’s ark was not small. It was huge. Real calculations put it at over 500 ft long and immensely hugh and immensely wide.
The animals Noah brought were not huge.
They were young and didn’t need to bring more than 1 type of dog or cat or other land dwelling animal having more than 1 type. Just needed 1 type of each species to keep that animal alive.
Completely straw man Noah’s ark
I’ve watched this movie several times. I keep coming back to one point. Why did they open the mountain doors, and move the life boats outside, before the wave hit? It’s not even rocket science, it’s basic high school physics. If the mountain doors take the brunt of the wave hit, then the “open door / boat hatch” issue isn’t even an issue. Why expose your life boat to an unknown impact, when you could just open them after the water settles. Why add force variables to your life boat? The mountain itself would have saved so many. The boats could have launched after the water settled. They are clearly air tight boats, with the boat doors (hatches) closed. But they opened the mountain doors and pushed the life boats out before the wave hit. That just adds so many unknown variables to deal with. You have kinetic energy and debris, unknown variables. I can almost get behind this movie, but that just hurts me. I’m not an engineer, but I’m also not an idiot, if I can stop or reduce the impact of a punch, I will. This is no different. You really think a man made hydraulic clamp is stronger than the force of nature when it’s pissed off? It’s just careless. Yes, I understand movie drama, but don’t insult me and expect me to believe that the greatest minds of the world would let this happen.