(PG-13 for some profanity, plenty of intense disaster sequences): Director/writer (with Harald Klosser) could have learned a lesson from "Cloudy" - disaster sequences might be fascinating, but too many are many too many; the law of diminishing returns takes over before the movie is a third over. To borrow from one critic, "2012 is a very long, very loud, and very stupid disaster flick that apparently accomplishes what it set out to do, which was to be long, loud, and stupid."
The plot is an amalgamation of plots from previous disaster flicks: the end of the world is immanent, but only a few know about it, so only a handful of the world's wealthiest plus a few political bigwigs are headed for a place in China where some modern arks await them & a few lucky animals). An American family get involved, and after more cliff hangars than all in the "Perils of Pauline" series, they wind up among the "haves" barely in the nick of time. Ooh, am I giving something away? Even a dimwit recognizes the cliff hangar pattern & anticipates that ending.
At least 35-minutes could be cut - including a dozen close-calls, an overextended beginning and an elongated conclusion - without consequences. As it is, 2 1/2 hours of spectacular (and they ARE spectacular until the repetition diminishes their effect) worldwide earthquakes, explosions, fires, floods & crashing buildings are all we've got; the plotline, the dialog, the anticipated conclusion are mundane, even at times, unintentionally silly.
Imagine, for example, a couple being separated by a widening crack in the cement, with one saying in all seriousness before it occurs, "There's something strange pulling us apart." Or a widening crack separating God's finger from Moses' in Rome's Sistine Chapel. Or an authority trying to calm an increasingly alarmed populace waiting to board one of the arks, in the often heard cheerful voice of an airline hostess, "We expect to be boarding shortly."
After his "The Day after Tomorrow," "Independence Day" & "Godzilla" flicks, Emmerich is obviously concentrating, thanks to all those special effects, more on the computer generated effects and less on the glue holding them together. He plays with time beyond believability, permits a rather good cast including John Cusack, Chjwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie, Danny Glover & Woody Harrelson to play the "people in disastrous straits" game, allows composers Harold Kloser & Thomas Wander to fill in the gaps with blasting surround sound and the CGI people to spend months & muchos dolares totally beyond what's necessary to make a good doom flick. (Grade: C-)