I had anticipated watching this movie since I saw it’s poster at a movie hall in Goa in July. The poster showed a huge landmass- part of a continent (The state of California to be exact) complete with glass buildings, freeways and five star hotels falling off into the raging Pacific Ocean. A leviathan wave rising menacingly from the ocean threatens to swallow the breaking piece of America like a piece of cake. The caption read: We were warned.
The movie finally released in India in November and when most of my friends and people I know refused to accompany me to the theatre calling it ‘just another doomsday movie’, I decided to witness apocalypse all alone!
The movie started with a dismal audience count of just about twenty. I must admit the unrelated episodes at the start of the movie lost me. First, the young scientist Adrian Helmsley’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) journey to India to meet his friend Satnam (Jimi Mistry) who explains how a solar flare is bombarding the earth with neutrinos which in turn has raised the temperature of the earth quite a few notches. This would lead to destabilization of the earth’s crust causing continental drifts and major shifts in plate tectonics. Well all of these is easy to figure out once the movie is over and you have enough time to ponder over it and joining the dots and with a little help from Google. But the lack of these details can leave the layman clueless about WHY is the world heading for a doomsday in the first place.
Never mind the details. What was interesting to see was how an average author Jackson Curtis who’s Farewell Atlantis sold “less than 500 copies” gets entangled in a mysterious Government intrigue (read- conspiracy). The majorly expressionless John Cusack who played Curtis looked stale and unconvincing in the role of a novelist by day and Limo driver by night. His estranged wife Kate (Amanda Peet) was used as a prop throughout the movie- smiling and sobbing alternately as and when the script demanded. I wasn’t interested in Jackson Curtis’s story at all. Here, an interesting and hilarious character pops up: Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson)- conspiracy theorist, living as a hermit in Yellowstone National Park. I loved his antics, the way he had it all figured out- that the Government was building Space ships to carry the people of the country away somewhere to safety. His ‘blog’ where he explains it all is a must watch. It all seems so simple when the earth can be imagined to be a giant orange and the sun attacking the earth with bows and arrows. He did the cartoons all by himself- he proclaims later.
The president of the United States of America- Thomas Wilson- played by a very tired looking Danny Glover tried to play ‘hero’ as usual. But the way he sacrificed his berth on the ‘ship’ to stay back and tell the truth to the people of his country was commendable. He agreed that “the people have a right to know the truth” when the young scientist Adrian confessed to him his feelings about that issue.
The president’s daughter Laura Wilson (Thandie Newton) had a miniscule role to play. I still feel she should have played Jackson Curtis’s wife instead of Amanda Peet. At least that would’ve guaranteed her a better and bigger role. But one more character that stands out is that of Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt)- the President’s Chief of Staff. Torn between emotion and duty, he dutifully chooses duty.
But the most deserving character of the whole movie is the CGI. They are bigger than Independence Day and better than The Day After Tomorrow. Watching the earth develop monstrous cracks and engulfing cars and buildings is exciting as well as frightening. The waves were the best as they came rushing over the Himalayas drowning them in one fell sweep. The best moment in the movie was when the Tibetan monk sees the gigantic wave from his monastery on top of the craggy mountain. No power on earth can stop er…the earth from devastating civilization in a matter of moments. The fact that the human race has so little time to escape is really harrowing. And the way their road to safety is littered with mountainous challenges is awe-inspiring. When the ‘ship’, well, actually it’s an ‘ark’ (and quite appropriately that too!), is heading for a collision with none other that Mount Everest, one feels humbled!
The Biblical references are too obvious- the attempt of choosing the best genepool from every species to let life continue, the building of the ‘arks’ etc. There are cheesy clichés like: “The world…as we know it…would soon come to an end…” But overall, it is like a wild ride through apocalypse and humankinds’ endless struggle to survive. Survival, though, is a matter of one billion Euros (the price one has to pay to secure a berth in the arks). So if you got money, you CAN survive doomsday! And then build new countries and new governments on the new roof of the world situated near the Cape of Good Hope. So is that all you need to get past the ultimate END? Money and Hope? The house is open!