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Doomsday 2012 DVD

A&E Video // PG // November 10, 2009
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted December 16, 2009 | E-mail the Author
Doomsday 2012: The End of Days:
Sometimes called pre-millennial tension, when people freak out around the fin-de-siecle, they fear massive destruction or something. I thought we already went through this, but since Y2K turned out to be a big bust chaos-wise, I guess we need some more inescapable terror. Thankfully, that incredibly accurate Mayan calendar has us covered, as the document mysteriously ends December 12th 2012. Since Roland Emmerich is capitalizing on the idea with 2012, The History Channel has decided to trot out a pair of 45-minute specials from 2006 and 2007. Whether this is of any interest to you the viewer depends on your level of fanaticism or skepticism regarding paranormal prognostication and extinction level events. Those of us somewhere in the middle will wisely choose to simply get on with our lives, leaving this DVD on the shelf.

By now, every History Channel program looks exactly like the last, with semi-portentous interviews bookending archival footage, budget CGI graphics and silly reenactments. In the case of Doomsday 2012 we find a number of experts opining on the accuracy of various historical seers and oracles who have predicted world destruction on or around 2012. For balance, one bemused skeptic clocks a few minutes of refutation. From the Roman Sybil through the oracle of Delphi and on to an Internet aggregator known as Web-Bot, all signs seemingly point towards unfathomable catastrophe. Or maybe it's all just smoke and mirrors.

Trouble is, most every time an expert or historian cites a prophetic accuracy, an actual quote or translation of prophesy is passed over in favor of a blanket statement - "she predicted the rise of Alexander the Great by name" - for instance, with no other information or documentation given. Yet when these statements become specific, their mercurial magic becomes evident. Such predictions including names and general time-frames - the first American colony in Virginia for instance - spring from catch-all mentions of "virgins in a new land," or some such. Yes, many of these accurate prophecies are fairly open to interpretation, vaguely worded, and often based on universal hopes and fears.

But what about Web-Bot, the program that sends spiders crawling through the pipes to glean predictive information? Could the program that predicted 9/11 terrorism ("a house attacked," according to slim diacritical evidence presented) actually confirm that the world will end in 2012? Well, according to this 2007 report, Web-Bot sees limited nuclear war in 2008 or 2009. And yet, if you data mine all news sources from those 2 years, you'll probably find something you could shoehorn into the realm of plausibility. In other words, looked at from the right angle, Web-Bot still wins!

If you eat up prophecies for breakfast, or believe in time as something other than a linear construct - in itself, not a bad idea, you'll buy into this program, but probably won't enjoy its ultra-light coverage. If you employ skepticism, picking apart these vague predictions and their carefully selected corroborating results, you'll enjoy mild laughs, but little else. If you land in the middle, you'll find little that will hold your attention, certainly no more than if you watched this, in a potato chip stupor, when it originally aired.

The DVD

Video:
Both documentaries are presented in non-anamorphic 1.66:1 ratio, preserving their original broadcast format. At times the image is quite sharp and detailed, at other times aliasing and posterizing (or cheap CGI graphics) shatter the illusion. Colors are robust and naturalistic, but on the whole these look likely about as good as the day they were first broadcast.

Sound:
Dolby Digital Stereo is solid if unimpressive. Dialog is always clear and easily discernible, while ominous music benefits from a nice dynamic range, and doesn't conflict with the dialog. Little more than simple stereo separation livens the mix.

Extras:
Our sole extra is another entire 45-minute documentary program, Mayan Doomsday Prophecy, from 2006. Quite similar in content and presentation to Doomsday 2012, Mayan Doomsday obviously focuses on the fact that the Mayan calendar mysteriously ends on December 12th 2012. Detail is added in the form of more examples of accurate predictions (or were they accurate?) from the Mayan calendar, and greater insight into the function of their marvelous day-planner. Of course much speculation and extrapolation comes to the fore, which is presented as plausible evidence that the Mayans have our number. Enjoy these upcoming final three years, folks!

Final Thoughts:
This pair of doomsday documentaries delivers a 94-minute dose of death, destruction and deterioration, as outlined by the Mayans and other oracles. It's spectrum-based entertainment; those on extreme poles of prophetic belief might get a kick out of things, but folks residing in the middle won't see much in this facts-light presentation. Will the poles shift when our moon, sun and the earth line up with the black hole in the center of the galaxy? Or will we just go on living our egocentric little lives? As far as this DVD goes, if you Skip It, you'll have more time to contemplate a better tomorrow.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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