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YMMV / 2012

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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Yuri's sons are both rich, spoiled brats like their father, but it's hard not to feel sorry for them when they both have to watch him falling to his death after throwing his two sons to safety.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Jackson: A Karma Houdini whose attempt to sneak his family aboard the ark is directly responsible for two deaths (which soon after turn out to be pointless) and nearly killed everybody else aboard as well.
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    • Anheuser: A Reasonable Authority Figure who bravely confronts and takes responsibility for the unenviable soul-wrenching decisions on how to best preserve the human race.
      • Not surprising, since good leadership usually goes to reasonable and pragmatic.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Despite the fact that he saved all their lives multiple times, and has arguably been a better father to them for longer than Jackson has, Gordon's family don't so much as blink after he dies in an incredibly gruesome and pointless fashion. It kind of makes them look like assholes.
  • Anvilicious: "The whole continent of Africa has risen."
  • Awesome Music: "Master of Shadows" by Two Steps from Hell in the second trailer for the film. Take a listen.
  • Bellisario's Maxim: Keep this and the MST3K Mantra close at hand and you just might enjoy this movie.
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  • Cargo Ship: A humorous take, sounding a lot like a one night stand.
    Sasha: (to Antonov) Come on, baby. Lift your big ass for Sasha!
  • Designated Villain: Carl Anheuser. He makes some good points about how to keep as many people alive as possible, namely by not endangering the remaining human race by letting the rest of the refugees on board, racing against time and, if they survive that, the strain on their remaining resources. He doesn't even tell his own mother to board, though he has good reason: she's "89 years old, in a wheelchair, and has slight dementia. And I'm confident that she would want to go ready to meet her maker on her own terms."
    • Of course, it doesn't help his case at all that his decision on who to keep alive relies solely on the rich and powerful.
  • Eight Deadly Words: Though most of the other cast (Adrian and his father, Carl Anheuser, the Russians and even Gordon) avert this, John Cusack and his family are just bland at best and unlikeable jerks at worst. And unfortunately, all of them survive.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Russians. Among them, Sasha is probably the biggest for completely avoid any idiot tendencies and being a badass. Tamara for Ms. Fanservice and also being a good person.
    • Charlie Frost is the role that Woody Harrelson was born to play, and his scenes are a complete joy to watch as a result.
    • Carl Anheuser has some fans thanks to being one of the most sensible people in the whole movie despite the fact that the movie works desperately to convince you he's the bad guy.
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    • Captain Michaels, the Reasonable Authority Figure that humanity would desperately need. When the apocalypse comes, it'd be hard not to feel safer with this guy leading the way.
    • Gordon comes off as being an infinitely better father than Jackson ever was, saves the family on multiple occasions thanks to his borderline miraculous piloting skills, and you can't help but feel sorry for the poor bastard when he is cruelly killed in a painful and undignified death literally meters from safety after a journey that took him halfway around the world.
  • Glurge: Noah's anguished tearful moment with Jackson before he goes to repair the gears. It would be a nice heartwarming moment...if not for the fact that the kid is holding his Dad up at a very time-sensitive moment and is risking millions of lives. Rather than sympathizing with the kid, many viewers wanted to punch him for causing Tamara to drown as well as for indirectly getting Gordon killed.
    • No one will dispute the kid's general annoyance and uselessness. And yet, he is the one who saw that one of the equipments jamming the gears is the cable.
    • Not to mention the very end of the movie, as summarized by Cracked: The true victory was not surviving the world as we know it completely destroying itself, but of overcoming nocturnal enuresis.
  • Ham and Cheese: Woody Harrelson gloriously overacts in each of his scenes, completely stealing the show.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: When Washington, D.C. is hit by a quake, we witness the collapse of the Washington Monument during the chaos. Cut to 2011, when the Monument was severely damaged in the Virginia quake and shut down for repairs until three years later.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The line about the Italian Prime Minister praying in his quarters during the Vatican's destruction was met with resounding laughter by Italian audiences. Given that Italy's actual PM at the time was Silvio Berlusconi, almost everyone there joked that he instead surrounded himself with whores, to pass his last moments on Earth as he always lived.
    • This is a movie about a massive apocalyptic disaster in 2012. Cue when the year hit 2013, Marshall Pentecost said that humanity will cancel the apocalypse.
  • Memetic Mutation: "The neutrinos have mutated!"
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Yuri leaving Tamara, Gordon, and the Curtis family for dead. Although Yuri's saving his children before falling at least 50 feet to his demise does show that he did have redeeming qualities, but not enough.
      • Furthermore, whoever gave out passes to the arks should be blamed, thus not making it entirely Yuri's fault.
    • Yuri bringing his girlfriend along in the first place, knowing he's going to leave her behind just when she thinks she's safe.
    • Anheuser has the Arks launched early, leaving behind the refugees and passengers of Ark 3, even though there was plenty of room and enough time to board them. Lampshaded by an outraged Adrian when shown his quarters.
    "What the hell is this?! You could fit ten people in here!"
    • The film even picks up on this. Once Anheuser makes this decision, his influence over the crew dramatically declines, to the point where they begin to question his leadership.
  • MST3K Mantra: Just enjoy it as a story about the human spirit in the face of adversity, plus copious amounts of Stuff Blowing Up, and this might turn out to be a decent film in an undemanding sort of way.
  • Nightmare Fuel: See here.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The movie's got really strong supporting actors. Perhaps the most memorable is Woody Harrelson, who gleefully chews the entire Yellowstone park as a crackpot conspiracy theorist.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Those who don't like any of the characters will find themselves rooting for the massive destruction to just kill them all. To a lesser extent, Carl Anheuser is seen as more likable, or at the very least more sensible, than the film's actual heroes by a fair amount, so some people find themselves rooting for him instead.
  • The Scrappy: Noah. The kid is a dick to his father for the first act and does nothing but scream and complain for the entire disaster. He's also The Load and a borderline Damsel Scrappy. Ironically, his sister avoids this by being funny and cute at times.
  • Too Cool to Live: You just had to kill off every character that people would've preferred to see live, didn't you, movie? Bye bye, Thomas, Gordon, Harry, Tony, and every single Russian character except for Yuri's brat sons.
  • Special Effects Failure: Very little (Roland Emmerich and all), but the real water in the climax is pretty striking next to the CGI water we've seen throughout the film.
  • Strawman Has a Point: The closest thing that the film has to a villain is Oliver Platt's heartless presidential adviser, who's an obvious Take That! to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney — note that his name is Anheuser, presumably after Anheuser-Busch breweries. However, after the fifth or sixth argument where his level-headed pragmatism is contrasted with the Honor Before Reason Save Everyone bleeding-heart attitude of the rest of the cast, you kind of have to wonder if maybe the writers did not secretly agree with him. Some examples:
    • He is heavily criticized for keeping the impending disaster a secret from the general public, although announcing the end of the world would've caused massive panic and hysteria and helped no one.
    • Helmsley complains that "only rich people" are being let onto the Arks, to which Anheuser responds that the money they spent buying tickets is what funded the Arks in the first place. That and snarking "Oh, you mean life isn't fair?!"
      • No one seems to point out that those "rich people" won't be rich after the catastrophe. Even if they could take all their money with them, it'll be worthless in a world without an economy to back it up. They'll have to work just like everyone else.
      • Also, it's not like any debt accumulated from building them would actually matter when the world ends. The countries could have spent themselves into bankruptcy ten times over.
    • Basically after only minutes of Helmsley explaining the situation he is in action and spearheads the top secret, international mega project to save the entire human species, many of its cultural treasures, and many of the other species as well. This plan largely succeeds in spite of things happening months earlier than Helmsley forecast and the meddling of many of the "heroes".
    • Then there's Anheuser's claim they shouldn't open the ark doors to let more people on the ark. For starters, they had 15 minutes before the water hit the boat (and it took a long time for the door to open), and if the door malfunctioned and wouldn't close (a legitimate concern, considering how quickly such complex boats were made), every person on the boat would be in danger, dooming the human race (which is exactly what almost happened). On top of that, people are going to be on that ark for years, if not decades, therefore they have a limited number of supplies. If they started running out of food, they would have to either start rationing food to ridiculously low extremes, and people would go crazy and kill people so they would have more food for themselves or some people would just starve to death. Yes, Adrian claimed you could fit 10 people in 1 room, however being confined with 10 people for years would not only be uncomfortable, but create major antagonism between the passengers, something you don't want when they are the last surviving humans.
  • Tear Jerker: The movie is loaded with these:
    • Adrian's final conversation with his father.
    • Tony attempting to call his son.
    • Harry seeing his partner, Tony’s death before him, and the entire cruise ship gets engulfed by the tsunami.
    HARRRRYYY!!!!
    • The deaths of Sasha and especially Gordon and Tamara. Jackson's futile attempts to help Gordon only to watch in horror as he dies doesn't help.
      • Speaking of Gordon the entire family forgets him almost immediately after his death which is sad considering that he saved their lives twice and was practically the entire reason they got to China in the first place. Poor guy...
    • Yuri's death. It wouldn't be up here if the man didn't lose his life trying to save his children.
    • Depending on how you view it. Sometimes the film itself can be a rough watch. As it can be scene after scene of innocent people getting killed by no fault of there own.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: It's looking like Tamara and Gordon are going to hook up after Jackson returns to his family, and that at the end of the film Gordon and Jackson will have gained some respect for each other. Gordon and Tamara both die, in extremely stupid and pointless ways no less, and are instantly forgotten about. Many viewers were pissed off.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Gordon/Jackson's family come off as this when Gordon dies. After being an arguably better father and husband to Jackson who bonds with Tamara and tries to bond with Jackson himself, and after saving pretty much everyone's lives twice to get to China, not only does he die a horrible death when he was so close to safety but his death is pretty much ignored by the remaining surviving family members. Granted, they were in a life and death situation (even though they caused it no less) and Jackson did try to save him but it makes them come off like assholes. Naturally, many viewers were pissed.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Well duh, it's a Roland Emmerich film. We dare you to watch the thrilling climax in which a colossal ark careens through the flooded Himlayas and not enjoy it.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: Cheesy disaster movie based on a Mayan Doomsday scenario, or a movie aimed at purposely showing the absurdities of such a scenario, meant to be a Take That! aimed at doomsayers who believed it?
  • What an Idiot!: Gordon, despite the fact that he's the only one with any sort of experience flying a plane, insists that he shouldn't be the one flying multiple times.

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