The world is going to end. It may not be tomorrow, or at a precise date in December 2012. It could be decades or even millennia away. But one thing is for certain - just as clearly as the planet was created and evolved into the varied place we humans call home, there will be a moment in the future (the supernova of our sun, a dissipation of the ozone layer) when life on the globe will be impossible to maintain. For some, of course, that time is nigh. According to the talking heads who take part in Reality Films flimsy Apocalypse 2012: The World After Time Ends, we are on the precipice of total destruction. In fact, many believe it's too late. We are doomed to die by our own hand. The means seem like a laundry list of activist caveats: mistreatment of the environment, overpopulation, an overreliance on fossil fuels, the depletion of major natural resources (water, air, food), and our lack of a clear cosmic and spiritual bond with nature itself...wait, what? Indeed, like a loopy New Age lecture, our experts all have one thing in common - they believe in all straight faced honesty that our lack of divine resolve, or inability to accept both science and religion as the reasons for our fatal fate is the main reason we are all going to die. Forget gas - we need more GOD (or something similarly sacred) to save us.
It would be nice to say that Apocalypse 2012 is more than just two hours of marginal thinkers and native authorities waxing way too poetic about our ticking timebomb planet. It would also be nice to note that it contains something other than stock footage carefully edited together to support and/or illustrate these points. In addition, it would be nice to mention that every Chapter in this ongoing cautionary saga has something new to add to the discussion. Instead, we wind up with a talky, trying experience, bloated with newsreel material, clips from film and TV, and lacking even the basics of the genre. As a lesson for those into such esoteric and fringe beliefs, it preaches to the converted. For all others, it's 120 minutes of unnecessary repetition.
Here is how one sums up Apocalypse 2012 in a single sentence - man is so busy buying stuff, raping the planet for their high tech comfort and transportation needs, that he fails to see the endgame writing on the wall. Without a deeper connection to nature, without recognizing both the scientific and the spirituality involved, we are destined to destroy everything, and ourselves in the process. Okay, that's two sentences, but that's not bad, considering how long winded and full of itself this "documentary" is. Like the smart aleck that loves to hear the sound of his (or her) own voice, this dour and depressing overview just goes on and on and on...and on. We get the thesis early and often, the varying voices repeating the same thing while adding nothing new to our understanding. As aging images of oil refineries, hurricanes, floods, famine, and violence fill the screen, we get the basic premise - we can't keep pushing nature the way we are. Eventually, the fuel will dry up, the water will become undrinkable, and the foundations of modern society will crumble under the weight of widespread hunger, full scale economic collapse, and a resulting planet-wide meltdown. While it won't be like a Roland Emmerich film, it will surely be devastating.
But then Apocalypse 2012 goes goofy. It argues for something that makes little sense, or in another way, is just the standard "be more concerned and considerate" dressed in a stained peasant blouse and a bushy beard. We have had calls to environmental action long before Al Gore made a post-VP career out of it, and there is no one (except a few extremists in politics) who don't believe in our need to watch out for our Earth. We know species are suffering. We know millions are going extinct each year. We get the need to "go green," "watch our carbon footprint," and "harmonize our needs with our wants." We get that OPEC and the rest of the oil producing nation's hold the key to our future. We recognize the need for alternatives in both energy production and resource use. But this isn't good enough for the voices here. They've already figured out that we're destined to die off, and are just playing the role of "told you so." Their solutions can be summed up in another singular sentiment - pay more attention and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Their solution - get in touch with your inner deity.
Yep - this is one of those excuses to mix technology and spiritual teaching as a way to weasel out of full responsibility. Instead of recognizing that you cannot live without your SUV and don't care if it costs $80 dollars every three days to run it, you're going to fuel that sucker and send it straight to your environmentally suspect McMansion in the suburbs. Of course, our subjects here would simply shake their heads and scream "Thanks for killing us all, jerk!" If you really understood how much you were harming the ephemeral core of the planet, if you recognized that soil and rivers and crust and mantle have feelings too, you'd perhaps (and it's a epic 'perhaps') be a bit more considerate in your choices. Of course, that's like arguing that everyone would become a vegetarian if they just understood that their steaks cry. The approach here is just not preposterous, it's not very persuasive. No one offers a guarantee that good karma will keep us from Doomsday, nor do they address the superstitious struggles in Third World countries and dictatorial theocracies. Instead, we just need to get our sacred spit together less the Mayans be made out to be Nostradamus. Apocalypse 2012 may have its heart in the right place, but its theories are as suspect as the way they are presented.
Offered in what appears to be a 16:9 anamorphic image, the visual aspect of Apocalypse 2012 suffers from a spate of issues. Some of the contemporary interviews have lighting and framing problems. One speaker can be easy to see and artistically presented. Another can be marginalized to a bottom corner and slipped into shadows. The stock footage is expertly edited, and even the use of some '60s/'70s post production tweaks (overlays, split screen) work well. While clearly not made for mainstream consumption, the digital presentation here is good.
It's a basic Dolby Digital Stereo mix. Sometimes, the voice recording muffles an interview subject. At other instances, the dialogue is loud and clear. We get a lot of spacey, ambient music to manipulate the listener, and there's occasional bursts of archival sound that shocks us with its polish and clarity. Still, for something made on the cheap, the tech specs are quite decent.
The only extra offered is a two minute trailer highlighting other Reality Films product. It's not worth watching.
Global Warming...International Economic Crisis and Collapse...Over Population...the War Over Water...these hot button issues have fueled dozens of documentaries, many of them real masterpieces of message. Apocalypse 2012 wishes it could be part of this considered company, but it's a barebones bore at most. Instead of investing the subject with some sense of urgency, we get thinkers who have long given up on our rotting third rock from the Sun. Earning a routine Rent It, one should approach with caution. If you're into such arcane aboriginal spirituality, if you agree that things would be better if nature just swallowed us whole and started over, you'll love this overlong dissertation. Everyone else will just want to flip over to BBC America to see what the hosts have to say about the latest gas guzzling luxury.