2012 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While usually satisfying, the transfer lacked the quality to make it great.
My main complaint related to shadow detail. Low-light shots usually came across as a bit too dense and murky. I speculated that this might stem from production choices, but the film offered enough clear dark shots to make the opaque ones more frustrating.
Otherwise, the transfer worked quite well. Sharpness seemed very good. A few slightly soft wide shots occurred, but the vast majority of the movie looked concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I failed to notice any edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to occur.
2012 went with a stylized palette that favored subdued hues. A slightly amber tone dominated, with the occasional blue tint thrown in for good measure. The hues stayed natural enough to be satisfying. Blacks appeared dark and tight. Overall, this was a strong presentation, but the general darkness knocked down my grade to a “B”.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Roland Emmerich flick that failed to offer stellar audio, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of 2012 kept that streak intact. Indeed, it might be the best of the bunch, as it provided a consistently broad and dynamic presentation.
It would be impossible to choose a standout moment. So many of the sequences packed such a strong sonic punch that none of them became better than the others. With crashing waves, earthquakes, crashes, zooming planes and cars, explosions and pretty much every other flashy piece of audio on display, this was a killer soundscape.
Audio quality lived up to the soundfield as well. Effects came to the forefront and presented excellent fidelity. All moments – both loud and soft – appeared concise and accurate, and low-end was simply stellar. Bass response always appeared deep and tight.
Speech was natural and distinctive, without edginess or other issues. Music occasionally threatened to become buried under the effects, but the score still managed to display good presence. The music featured nice range and clarity throughout the movie. This was a consistently terrific presentation that definitely earned my highest rating.
2012 delivers a hearty assortment of bonus features. On Disc One, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writer/composer Harald Kloser. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of sets and locations, cast and performances, stunts and effects, music and editing, story and character notes, and a few other tidbits.
To say the least, prior Emmerich commentaries have been hit or miss – and they’re sometimes pretty awful due to Emmerich’s inarticulate grasp of English. While this chat doesn’t excel, it works better than expected, largely due to Kloser. He manages to keep things on-task and speaks enough to ensure that Emmerich’s verbal tics don’t become too much of a distraction.
I also like the commentary’s focus on story/character issues. I feared this would be a dry recitation of effects/technical areas, but we don’t hear a ton about those. Instead, we get a decent look at various creative decisions. At times this turns into basic narration of the film, but the commentary still manages to be reasonably informative. Maybe I liked it just because of my low expectations, but it nonetheless worked acceptably well.
Called Roland’s Vision, a picture-in-picture feature boasts a variety of elements. It presents shots from the set and behind the scenes materials as well as interview clips. In these, we hear from Emmerich, Kloser, co-producer/VFX supervisor Marc Weigert, producers Larry Franco and Marc Gordon, production designer Barry Chusid, special effects supervisor Mike Vezina, co-producer/VFX supervisor Volker Engel, and actors Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ojiofor, John Cusack, and Tom McCarthy. They cover genre specifics and story areas, cast, characters and performances, research and various effects, pre-viz, sets and production design, and a few other technical issues.
Many picture-in-picture features offer good details and include so much material that they nearly become feature-length documentaries. “Vision” falls far short of that level. Lots of movie space passes by without any information, and the notes provided often feel basic and without much to make them notable. Despite occasional useful moments, “Vision” lacks the consistency to make it a good use of time.
An Alternate Ending lasts three minutes, 39 seconds. It reveals that some presumed-dead characters survived, and it also adds a little denouement for the main folks on the ark. Its omission was a good choice.
A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Armored and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. These also appear under Previews along with promos for Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Angels & Demons and Planet 51.
Over on Disc Two, we begin with an Interactive Mayan Calendar. This breaks into three areas. “Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar” presents a three-minute, 53-second featurette to tells us a little about the lives and work of the ancient Mayans; it features remarks from Apocalypse: 2012 author Lawrence E. Joseph. “Mayan Personality Profiles” prompts you to enter your birthdate; from there it tells you simple “insights” about you. Finally, “Mayan Horoscope” throws out more info based on your birthdate; these are similar to fortune cookie texts. “Mysteries” is a decent program, but the other elements are pretty worthless.
Five Deleted Scenes fill a total of four minutes, 55 seconds. These include “Limo Drive with Twins” (0:33), “President Wilson Talks with Sally” (1:13), “Something Must Have Gone Wrong” (1:17), “Jackson Underwater” (0:57) and “Anheuser Apologizes” (0:55). Given the movie’s bloated running time, I’m surprised anything fell to the cutting room floor. All are utterly inconsequential, though at least “Wrong” allows Dr. Helmsley to show a little spark. (By the way, “Apologizes” depends on Disc One’s alternate ending to make sense.)
Five featurettes ensue. During the 26-minute, three-second Designing the End of the World, we find remarks from Emmerich, Cusack, Ejiofor, Newton, McCarthy, Gordon, Chusid, Vezina, Weigert, Engel and actor Woody Harrelson. Designing digs into a mix of visual areas, with an emphasis on effects and how the actors worked on virtual sets. This makes the program fairly dry, as it tends to stick with technical areas. Nonetheless, it investigates these issues pretty well and it gives us good notes.
We get more about the director in Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic. The nine-minute, 30-second piece features Cusack, Glover, Ejiofor, Harrelson, Newton, McCarthy, Platt, Emmerich, Kloser, Gordon, Chusid, Weigert, and actors Bill Mankuma and Amanda Peet. As implied by its title, “Master” offers an ode to the film’s auteur. It tells us how wonderful and talented Emmerich is and praises him up the wazoo. Yawn!
We learn about the factual side of the fantasy in Science Behind the Destruction. This one occupies 13 minutes, 18 seconds with statements from Emmerich, Kloser, Gordon, Joseph, How to Survive 2012 author Patrick Geryl, USC Professor of Earth Sciences John Platt, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl author Daniel Pinchbeck, and Planetary Society co-founder Dr. Louis Friedman. The show investigates the scientific concepts featured in the film. This doesn’t make the story a whole lot more plausible, but I appreciate the insights into technical areas behind the tale. It also offers speculation about what’ll happen in 2012. That stuff’s less compelling, mostly because a couple of the participants come across like crackpots.
The End of the World: The Actor’s Perspective goes for seven minutes, 34 seconds and includes info from Emmerich, Cusack, Peet, Weigert, Kloser, Glover, Newton, Ojiofor, Harrelson, McCarthy, and Platt. The program includes a few minor notes about the cast, but mostly it just recites the credits and provides praise for all involved.
Lastly, Countdown to the Future goes for 22 minutes, two seconds. It includes material from Joseph, Geryl, Pinchbeck, Mayan shaman Don Carlos Barrios, and San Jose University Professor of Physics Dr. Friedmann Freund. Ala “Science Behind the Destruction”, this piece looks at the potential disaster that could come in 2012. Though longer, it repeats a fair amount of info heard elsewhere, and we the same crackpots as well. They take this whole Mayan “countdown” seriously; I don’t. I guess we’ll know who’s right in a few more years, but I’m guessing when December 22, 2012 rolls around, Geryl and other doom-n-gloomers will look pretty silly. (If I’m wrong, I’ll probably be dead and this website will be toast, so what do I care?)
Next comes a Music Video for Adam Lambert’s “Time for Miracles”. The glam Idol performs an insipid ballad that would seem better suited to one of his more country-oriented peers. The video itself is more action-oriented than most, as it plops Lambert among various disasters, some of which feature movie footage. Despite the mayhem, it’s a pretty dull video, and Lambert’s attempts to look sad just come across as weepy.
We learn more about this clip via the two-minute, 43-second Making the Music Video. In it, we hear from Lambert, Emmerich, and music video director Wayne Isham. We get some basic remarks along with shots from the video set. It’s little more than promotion for the song and the film.
Under Previews, Disc Two includes ads for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, and Breaking Bad. No trailer for 2012 shows up anywhere in this set.
Disc Three provides a Digital Copy of the film. As usual, this allows you to slap the flick onto a computer or portable device. Disc Two also features a digital copy meant just for PSPs.
As a fan of big, flashy action flicks, I looked forward to 2012. Unfortunately, it ended up as a disappointment. I can’t say I disliked the film, but it offered too much mayhem without much emotional impact or power. The Blu-ray presented generally good picture along with phenomenal audio and a collection of supplements with ups and downs. I wanted to like 2012 but found the result to be pretty forgettable.