DVD Release Date:  March 2, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  November 13, 2009
Rating:  PG-13 (for intense disaster sequences and some language)
Genre:  Action/Adventure, Drama, Disaster
Run Time:  158 min.
Director:  Roland Emmerich
Actors:  John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Thomas McCarthy, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Liam James, Morgan Lily

Given his apparent love for saying sayonara to one of America's most defining landmarks, one has to assume that whenever writer/director Roland Emmerich can't possibly come up with another visual for one of his over-the-top disaster movies, he defaults back to what he knows best. After all, when in doubt, you can always blow up the White House again, right?

Yes, in case you were wondering, we do get to see the Oval Office fantastically destroyed yet again in 2012 (insert your favorite political joke here), albeit not as memorably as it was in say, Independence Day. But don't worry, if garish destruction is your thing, there are still plenty of don't-leave-your-seat-now thrills—like the sequence where earthquakes violently force California into the ocean for good, when Vegas comes toppling down like a house built with Lincoln Logs or the lush beauty of Hawaii basically erupts like a volcano, rendering it virtually unrecognizable.

And just in case that only picking on the U.S. didn't seem entirely fair, Emmerich is also an equal opportunity destroyer. Also notably lampooned in 2012 is the Vatican, a good chunk of India, Tibet and a giant cruise ship.

Oh yeah, and somewhere in between there's a threadbare story of a family we're supposed to care about as nearly everyone else on the planet, well, dies. Surprisingly enough, I've seen far worse (and less interesting) characters show up for Emmerich's disaster flicks (see GodzillaThe Day After Tomorrow and even the aforementioned Independence Day).

Instead of going with the requisite hunky guy of the moment (you know, serve up a little eye candy with all the terror) or the guy so resourceful and strong that you know he could save the planet somehow (someone like Bruce Willis or a bulked-up Will Smith immediately springs to mind), Emmerich opted for a bit of a casting curveball with everyman John Cusack, who'd at the very least offer a witty quip before everything went down.

With Cusack in the driver's seat, the lame bit of set-up is at least a little more tolerable. Like so many flicks in this particular genre, Cusack is the deadbeat dad, a failed novelist/limo driver who hasn't seen his kids, let alone spent time with them, in quite a while. In fact, his son Noah (Liam James) saves the title of "dad" for his mom's (Amanda Peet) live-in boyfriend Gordon (Thomas McCarthy) and refers to him as simply "Jackson" instead.

But all that's about to change with a fun camping trip to Yellowstone. Or so Jackson hopes. After coming face to face with his ex-wife and her plastic surgeon amour, a situation that makes everyone watching a bit uncomfortable, you know that as he eventually drives Noah and his daughter Lily (Morgan Lily) toward Wyoming (in his limo, no less) that something big is about to happen. And if you've seen the trailers, you already have a pretty good idea of what's ahead.

Just like The Day After Tomorrow, the first half of the story is filled with nature's first warning signs that all is not well on planet Earth. Thanks to a bit of science, not to mention something to do with the Mayan calendar, a government advisor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) gives the White House a head's up about the coming apocalypse. Unfortunately, the projected timetable for the end of days in 2012 arrives far sooner than anyone expects, which poses all sorts of moral dilemmas as government officials debate who lives and who dies.