Watched the cataclysmic 2012 at last, in a theater yesterday. This is not a critical review, but a first-feel (non) review of what the movie was. I believe that to write a proper review of some movies, you may have to see the movie twice. First time, make no judgement, sink-in and let your senses take over. Smile, chuckle, laugh, shed a tear, cry, be shocked, stunned, surprised, shriek, watch with your mouth agape or grab your seat, sometimes sleep :) or whatever it is, let it go. Never even think of reviewing it as it plays. You could look out for critique aspects the next time you see it. :)
Ignore the Physics mumbo-jumbo of a massive neutrino storm from the sun's solar flares boiling the earth's crust and causing reactions all over and changing the spin, the magnetic poles and the world's map once it all subsides. The story line is simple, the world ends in 2012 and a race is on to save a sample of the humans, their art, along with flora/fauna which is a parallel to the Biblical Noah's Ark, in a current day scenario. There are quite a few holes in the movie, which I won't pick on.
The special effects are awesome and jaw dropping, almost plunging you into those ravines that get created by the 10+ on Richter scale earthquakes, the volcanic rocks and flames coming at you, the dust plumes from the extempore volcanoes, the crashing/sinking skylines and ships, the towering tsunamis and the gigantic arks (ships) that get constructed somewhere in the Himalayan ravines to survive out the doomsday. Character definition is just about okay in this movie, and there are the good vs. not so good clashes, family values, greed, ethics etc, but the soaring canvas of destruction overshadows everything. CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) is here to stay and I cannot recollect any scene in this movie in which the CGI was cheesy or tacked.
I was riveted to the seat when the hero drives his limo to the airport with his family to fly out amidst all the crumbling chaos, when the mini plane takes off with the earth caving in right behind, the plane getting away amidst a shower of volcanic mayhem at Yellowstone or when the Antonov cargo plane pulls itself off the remnants of a runway at Vegas to go to China and the surprise when they run out of fuel and prepare for a water landing. The other 'awe' moments are when the plane crash-lands on a glacier (the only 'humor' portion of the movie, 15 seconds maybe, comes where when the Bentley in which all the folks are seated inside the plane, refuses to start as the plane hurtles down the glacier with its cargo gates open for the car to spin out), when the arks are first shown in perspective for size (reminded of the old sci-fi movies where there are Star Wars type starship docks on a colossal mother-ship) and when a giant tsunami gushes into the Himalayan valley pounding the monastery on top of a hill (nay, mountain) into non-existence.
In essence, this is a movie made for the big screen and I don't think looking at it in the small screen can do justice (unless you have a big LCD with 5.1 surround and a Blu-ray disc). Also don't wear your critic's hat, but enjoy it for the sheer wizardry of how movie-making has changed with CGI and its thrills.