2012 is a 2009 American epic disaster film directed by Roland Emmerich, and stars John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson. The film was produced by Centropolis Entertainment and distributed by Columbia Pictures.
Filming, originally planned for Los Angeles, began in Vancouver in August 2008. The plot follows novelist Jackson Curtis as he attempts to bring his family to safety amid a worldwide geological disaster. The film refers to Mayanism and the 2012 phenomenon in its portrayal of cataclysmic events.
After a lengthy advertising campaign which included the creation of a website from its main character’s point of view and a viral marketing website on which filmgoers could register for a lottery number to save them from the ensuing disaster, 2012 was released internationally on November 13, 2009. Critics gave the film mixed reviews, praising its special effects and dark tone relative to Emmerich’s other work and criticizing its screenplay and length. It was a commercial success and one of 2009’s highest-grossing films.
At the beginning of the film, American geologist Adrian Helmsley visits astrophysicist Satnam Surtani in India and learns that neutrinos from a huge solar flare are heating Earth’s core. Helmsley presents his information to White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser, who brings him to the president.
In 2010, during a chaotic mass protest in Vancouver, U.S. President Thomas Wilson and other world leaders begin a secret project to ensure humanity’s survival. China and the G8 nations begin building nine arks, each capable of carrying 100,000 people, in the Himalayas near Cho Ming, Tibet. Nima, a Buddhist monk, is evacuated and his brother Tenzin joins the ark project. Funding is raised by selling tickets at €1 billion per person. By 2011, articles of value are moved to the arks with the help of art expert and First Daughter Laura Wilson.
In 2012, struggling Los Angeles science-fiction writer Jackson Curtis is a chauffeur for Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov. Jackson’s former wife (Kate) and their children (Noah and Lilly) live with Kate’s boyfriend, plastic surgeon and pilot Gordon Silberman. Jackson takes Noah and Lilly camping in Yellowstone National Park. When they find an area fenced off by the Army, Jackson and his children climb over the fence. They are caught and brought to the geologist Adrian, who has read Jackson’s books. After they are released they meet Charlie Frost, who hosts a radio show from the park. After Jackson and his children leave, Adrian learns that the Earth is about to undergo drastic changes in a few hours, earlier than expected, with only four of the arks completed.
That night, after the military evacuates Yellowstone, Jackson watches Charlie’s video of Charles Hapgood‘s theory that polar shifts, Earth Crustal Displacement and the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar predict a 2012 phenomenon. According to Charlie, anyone who attempted to inform the public was killed, including Jackson’s NASAcontact. After Jackson and his children return home, he delivers Yuri’s sons Alec and Oleg to Santa Monica Airport. Realizing that Charlie was right, Jackson rents a plane and rescues his family as the Earth-crust displacement begins, causing a 10.9 magnitude earthquake, and they escape from LA by air as the city is destroyed and sinks into the Pacific Ocean.
They fly to Yellowstone to retrieve a map from Charlie with the arks’ location. As they leave, the Yellowstone Caldera erupts; Charlie stays behind to cover the eruption and is killed. The group lands in Las Vegas to find a larger plane and meet Yuri, his twin sons Alec and Oleg, his girlfriend Tamara and their pilot Sasha. Sasha finds an Antonov An-500 and pilots it with Gordon, and they leave just as the Yellowstone ash cloud consumes Vegas.
Adrian, Carl and Laura fly to the arks on Air Force One. Knowing that his daughter will survive, President Wilson remains in the capital to address the nation for the last time while millions of people die in earthquakes and tsunamis worldwide. With the presidential line of succession gone, Carl assumes the position of acting commander-in-chief.
The group arrives in China. Everyone except Sasha escapes on a Bentley Continental Flying Spur stored in the cargo hold just before the plane runs out of fuel. Sasha is killed when the plane crashes, and the others are spotted by Chinese Air Force helicopters. Yuri and his sons, possessing tickets, are brought to the arks and the Curtis family, Tamara and Gordon are left behind. On Ark 4, the American ark, Adrian is contacted by Satnam, who tells that he is stuck on the Nampan Plateau with his entire family as the airlift meant for them never came, with a massive tsunami coming from the east, killing Satnam himself, his entire family and all the evacuees around them. Enraged, Adrian estimates that the wave will hit the arks in 28 minutes. The remaining group consisting of Jackson, Tamara, Noah, Lilly, Gordon and Kate, gets picked up by Nima and brought to the arks with his grandparents. With Tenzin’s help they stow away on Ark 4. Due to the lack of time, Carl wants to leave immediately, but Adrian manages to use Satnam’s death to convince the world leaders to let the people outside in.
As the wave breaches the Himalayas and approaches the site, an impact driver lodges in the ark-door gears, keeping a boarding gate open and preventing the ship’s engines from starting. In the ensuing chaos where many people attempt to board the ships, Yuri, Tamara and Gordon are killed, Tenzin is injured, Ark 4 begins filling with water and is set adrift after Air Force One crashes into one of its supports, while also causing it to skim the hull of Ark 6 before drifting off. With Jackson and Noah’s help, the crew of the Ark manages to regain control of the Ark narrowly before it fatally smashes into Mount Everest.
Jackson is reunited with his family and reconciles with Kate. Twenty-seven days later, as the waters recede, the arks approach the Cape of Good Hope, where the Drakensberg(now the tallest mountain range on Earth) is emerging. The film ends with Adrian and Laura beginning a relationship, and Jackson and Kate rekindle their own romance, and then, the song “Time for Miracles” performed by Adam Lambert is played during the closing credits.