2012 – Two-Disc Special Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 23, 2010 by  

If you are a big fan of Roland Emmerich’s work, you know that his films are heavy on visual effects.  Although a bit long, “2012” is literally a visual feast and one of the best lossless audio soundtracks I have heard on Blu-ray.  Overall, with its numerous content of special features, if you are looking for a not-so-serious but an all-out action oriented disaster film, look no further…. “2012” is awesome!

© 2009 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: 2012 (Two-Disc Special Edition)

DURATION: 158 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French (QC) 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Descrption Track, Dolby Surround

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Disaster and Some Language)

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2010

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Written by Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser

Executive Producer: Ute Emmerich, Mark Gordon, Michael Wimer

Produced by Roland Emmerich, Larry J. Franco, Harold Kloser

Co-Produced by Aaron Boyd, Volker Engel, Marc Weigert

Associate Producer: Kirstin Winkler

Music by Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker

Cinematography by Dean Semler

Edited by David Brenner, Peter S. Elliot

Casting by Susan Taylor Brouse, Scott David, Judy Lee, April Webseter

Production design by Barry Chusid

Art Direction by Ross Dempster, Kendelle Elliott, Dan Hermansen, Don Macaulay

Set Decoration by Elizabeth Wilcox

Costume Design by Shay Cunliffe


John Cusack as Jackson Curtis

Amanda Peet as Kate Curtis

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Adrian Helmsley

Thandie Newton as Laura Wilson

Oliver Platt as Carl Anheuser

Thomas McCarthy as Gordon Silberman

Woody Harrelson as Charlie Frost

Danny Glover as President Whomas Wilson

Liam James as Noah Curtis

Morgan Lily as Lilly Curtis

Zlato Buric as Yuri Karpov

Beatrice Rosen as Tamara

Alexandre Haussmann as Alec

Philippe Haussman as Oleg

Johann Urb as Sasha

John Billingsley as Professor West

chin Han as Tenzin

Osric Chau as Nima

Chang Tseng as Grandfather Sonam

Lisa Lu as Granmother Sonam

Blu Mankuma as Harry Helmsley

George Segal as Tony Delgatto

Stephen McHattie as Captain Michaels

Patrick Bauchau as Roland Picard

Jimi Mistry as Dr. Satnam Tsurutani

From Roland Emmerich, director of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and INDEPENDENCE DAY, comes the ultimate action-adventure film, exploding with groundbreaking special effects. As the world faces a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, cities collapse and continents crumble. 2012 brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors. Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover.

If you are a big fan of Roland Emmerich’s work, you know that his films are more about the action and destruction.  Although a bit long, “2012” is literally a visual feast and one of the best lossless audio soundtracks I have heard on Blu-ray.  Overall, with its abundant content of special features, if you are looking for a not-so-serious but an all-out action oriented film, look no further…. “2012” is awesome!

In 2012, the Mayans have predicted the end of our world according to the Mayan Long Count Calendar.  A time where the world is destroyed but then is recreated to reset the calendar cycle which lasts 5,125 years.

But like Y2K, there are people who fear that something post-apocalyptic will come on December 21, 2012 and if there is one director who is known for doing such films, Roland Emmerich (“Stargate”, “Independence Day” “Godzilla”, “The Patriot”, The Day After Tomorrow”, “10,000 BC”) has had his share of working on a few significant titles.  Along with screenwriter Harald Kloser (“10,000 BC”) who is known for composing music for films, cinematographer Dean Semler (“xXx”, “Bruce Almighty”, “Get Smart”, “Apocalypto”) and composer Thomas Wanker (“10,000 BC”, “Dracula”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series), the filmmaker would embark on his most ambitious film yet.

“2012” is a film that focuses on the destruction of world and to create that means major CG work and a hefty production budget (which the film was budgeted at $200 million).  Despite receiving mixed to negative reviews for the film’s focus on CG and action, the film did remarkably well in the worldwide box office, earning over $769 million.  And now, the film receives its Blu-ray release with a Three-Disc Special Edition (note: the slipcase and cover say Two-Disc Special Edition, but does come with a digital copy which is usually considered as a third disc).

“2012” is about when the planets and the sun align which happens every 600,000+ years.  This is causing a massive solar flare from the sun and the neutrinos are creating intense microwave radiation and heating up Earth’s core rapidly.  American geologist Adrian Helmsley (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, “American Gangster”, “Children of Men”) and Dr. Satnam Tsurutani (played by Jimi Mistry, “Blood Diamond”) immediately know that this is bad for humanity and immediately Helmsley alerts White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser (played by Oliver Platt, “Frost/Nixon”, “The West Wing”) and both immediately warn the President (played by Danny Glover, “Lethal Weapon” films, “Silverado”, “Saw”).

For two years, America has been researching the situation and notify the various leaders from different countries of the massive apocalyptic situation humankind is in.

Meanwhile, Jackson Curtis (played by John Cusack, “War, Inc.”, “Serendipity”, “Say, Anything”), who is an unsuccessful sci-fi writer goes to pick up his children Noan and Lilly from his ex-wife Kate (played by Amanda Peet, “Syriana”, “Saving Silverman”, “The Whole Ten Yards”) who is dating a plastic surgeon Gordon Silberman (played by Thomas McCarthy, “All the Kings Men”, “Syriana”, “The Wire”).  John works in a temp job as a chauffeur for a wealthy Russian man but on this day, he wants to take his children out camping at Yellowstone National Park.

While Jackson and kids go on a family trip, there appears to be surface cracks in different parts of the world.  While Jackson is out camping, he notices that there are warning gates around the park.  When they go into restricted territory, they notice the lakes are lacking water, wildlife are dead and sure enough, he and his kids are taken in by the military.  This is where Jackson meets geologist Adrian Helmsly (who is an avid reader of Jackson’s books).  Jackson suspects something is going on in the area and when he and his kids are let released by the military, a weird man named Charlie Frost (played by Woody Harrelson, “Cheers”, “Zombieland”, “No Country for Old Men”) hosts a radio show and warns Jackson of the apocalypse and how the Mayans predicted the destruction of the world in 2012.

Of course, Jackson doesn’t believe any of it but when his ex-wife and her boyfriend manage to survive a collapse of their local supermarket (due to a big earthquake), Jackson starts to believe that perhaps Charlie is right.  Immediately Jackson and the family go back home and returns the kids to his ex-wife.  While on a job, he notices more cracks happening in the surface and realizes that maybe Charlie Frost was telling the truth.   So, Jackson rents an airplane and calls to warn his wife that he will be picking her and the kids up.  But of course, they think he’s nuts.

That is until Southern California starts to collapse and immediately, Jackson and family plus Gordon (who happens to be a pilot) try to escape Southern California.   Meanwhile, the government of various nations are working on plan to keep humanity alive by getting the best people (and those with money) and to bring them to China as the Chinese are developing the escape ships to place them in and ensuring that humanity would live on.

But with the destruction of the Earth, can humanity survive?


“2012” looks absolute awesome in 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio is 2:40:1).  The film is just absolute colorful and vibrant during the outdoor scenes.  A lot of detail as we see the visual effects in full force during the surface cracks to full earthquakes revealing the destruction and chaos of the whole scenery.  Blacks are nice and deep, picture quality is detailed and sharp.  I did notice one segment in the beginning of the film with a bit of banding but for the most part, the film looks great and this is one of those films where you say that CG was well done.  The scenes with Jackson and family trying to escape a sinking Los Angeles is just absolutely awesome.   This film showcases the best in visual effects and because the film is CG-driven, is either going to impress people or turn people off.  But this is a film about the planet’s devastation and for something at this magnitude, it has to look convincing and I believe Roland Emmerich and team really pulled it off


For audio, “2012” is incredible!  The lossless audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio and also comes with an English – Audio Description Track in Dolby Surround.  But this is one of those films that you can’t just help gush over when it comes to audio.  From the moment you put the disc on to the end, this is audio that audiophiles dream of.   The lossless audio is absolute immersive as the whole soundscape of your room (especially if you have a solid 7.2 setup) features audio during the action driven scenes of the film.  And the good news, there is a ton of action and sounds from all over the place.  Well-planned audio and directing sounds to various channels.  How awesome is that?

From the sound of an elevator, an obstructed gear, to helicopters and airplanes flying, water rushing in, earthquakes, animals, insects and literally with the destruction of the planet, you can hear the lossless audio utilized well throughout center, front, surround and rear surround channels.  Also, great use of LFE and if anything, “2012” gives your audio setup a nice workout.  Personally, I found the audio to be quite phenomenal and hands down the best audio on a Blu-ray release for early 2010.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.


“2012” comes with the following special features on two discs.  Special features are in High Definition with audio in English Stereo and English subtitles.  Included are:


  • Picture-in-Picture: Roland’s Vision – While watching the film, you can see/hear director Roland Emmerich talking about his experience working on the film.  From planning and writing the film, discussion of the plot and the film’s special effects and more.  This is where viewers can see most of the behind-the-scenes footage for “2012”.
  • Commentary with Writer/Director Roland Emmerich and Co-Writer Harald Kloser – Where the Picture-in-Picture had more of an in-depth commentary, the audio commentary tends to focus on the written aspect of the film and character development, various scenes and also set design.
  • Alternate Ending – (3:39) A different ending for the film, which I’m glad they didn’t use.


  • Interactive Mayan Calendar – An interactive Mayan Calendar for one to get horoscopes, personality profile and more.
  • Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar – (3:52) A short featurette about the Mayan Calendar and its mystery.
  • Deleted Scenes – (4:54) A total of five deleted scenes: Limo Drive with twins, President Wilson Talks with Sally, Something must have gone wrong, Jackson Underwater and Anheuser Apologizes.
  • Designing the End of the World – (26:03) The visual effects behind “2012”.  Featuring director Roland Emmerich and the talent talking about filming in mostly blue screen.
  • Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic – (9:31) Talent and crew talk about working with Roland Emmerich.  Emmerich talks about making another disaster film and how he wanted to do a modern “Noah’s Ark”.
  • Science Behind the Destruction – (13:19) How the filmmaker worked with a geology professor at USC and other people familiar with the 2012 prophecy for the film.
  • The End of the World: The Actor’s Perspective – (7:34) The talent talk about making of the film and working with Roland Emmerich and their perspective of the destruction of the film.
  • “Time For Miracles” Music Video by Adam Lambert – (4:19) “Time For Miracles” music video.
  • Making the Music Video “Time For Miracles” with Adam Lambert – (2:43) Interview with “American Idol” finalist/runnerup Adam Lambert of the making of his first music video.  Also, feat. Roland Emmerich and music video director Wayne Isham.
  • Countdown to the Future – (22:03) A featurette about the Mayan prophecy and if the year 2012 is a dawn for a new era or the end of the world?


“2012” also comes with a digital copy for PC & Mac Versions and PSP Version.

I enjoy disaster films and I enjoy Roland Emmerich’s disaster films.  “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Independence Day” were films that captured your imagination, loaded with action and visual effects that there is always something happening onscreen.  When it comes to these disaster films, especially Emmerich disaster films, you come to see disaster and not a deep story and I think this is where critics had a problem with “2012”.

Is it a deep, plot-driven film?  No.  Is it a romantic film?  No.

If anything, since Emmerich’s “Stargate”, you come to his films seeing how far he can take visual effects.   But for those who are expecting cinematic storytelling, this is not a film for you.  Where we seen James Cameron create a masterpiece with “Avatar” by combining storytelling and visual effects, Emmerich’s disaster films is where disaster takes the front row.  How far can he make things look convincing and the peril of humanity. When it comes to disaster films, I suppose that one who has watched many of them including the 1958 film “A Night to Remember”, the 1970 film “Airport”, the 1972 film “The Poseidon Adventure”,  the 1974 film “Towering Inferno” or even the 1997 film “Titanic” are disaster films at their best compared to a film such as “When Time Ran Out…” (1980).

Emmerich said he wanted to redo a modern “Noah’s Ark” and in that sense, he did a great job.  To show how these cities and countries are destroyed has to look convincing and his visual effects crew pulls it off.  Yes, if you look at the film and expect anything serious, you are going to be disappointed.  The storyline is very farfetched as Jackson and his family are just a step, a few seconds away from their demise.  But if anyone has seen Emmerich’s last films, isn’t this usually the case? And at around 158 minutes, the film may seem too long for some viewers and some may feel that Emmerich was overdoing it by forcing too many action/disaster scenes on the viewer.  And I suppose, if I watched this film in the theater…maybe I would have felt that way.

But I have enjoyed Roland Emmerich’s films, no matter how CG-driven they are.  I am not expecting anything monumental in cinematic storytelling, I watch his films simply as a popcorn flick in which visual effects takes a prime seat and see how far he is able to take things and in “2012”, how much destruction he can pull off.  His disaster films are not for the serious minded and “2012” is not a film to expect anything deep in terms of character-driven storylines.  It’s a film about humanity trying to survive apocalypse.  How does the government respond?  And sure, some may feel “oh, we’ve seen that with ‘Deep Impact’ or ‘Independence Day'”?  But, Emmerich and Harald Kloser do a good job of taking things in a different direction.

On Blu-ray, audiophiles will simply love how the lossless soundtrack sounds on their system.  Your room just envelops with audio and directions of the sounds carefully planned and to full effect.  This is what I love about seeing this film on BD.  The picture quality is also very well done and it really brought out the details of the destruction of the world.  And of course, a lot of content, especially for those who have interest in “2012” especially if they believe in the Mayan prophecy.

Overall, “2012” is an action/disaster film that features non-stop action and disaster.  For those who know what to expect from Roland Emmerich, will feel that “2012” not only was this film his best disaster film (technically speaking), it is his best film on Blu-ray in terms of content, picture and audio quality.  This is a solid release and audiophiles, Emmerich fans and those who enjoyed “2012” will definitely enjoy.  “2012” on Blu-ray is definitely recommended!

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