We watched 2012 for the second time recently in order to fill our need for mindless apocalyptic destruction. If you’re not familiar with the movie, I will give you a mid-sized synopsis. Warning: spoilers, but this movie is predictable and it’s been three years since it came out in theaters.
Magical sun-rays are destabilizing the Earth’s crust. Only massively expensive major-science institutions can detect this. The conclusion that the world is doomed is unquestionably accepted by first world national leaders. A Program to Save the Worthy and Rich (PtStWaR) is implemented. Meanwhile a bumbling yet plucky protagonist embarks on a series of hair-raising escapes designed to show us scenes from various apocalyptic moments around the American West such as L.A. falling into the ocean, the Yellowstone supervolcano exploding, Las Vegas falling into the earth, and Hawaii inundated with lava (By the way, this may be Hollywood’s greatest snuff film with thousands of onscreen deaths). The protagonist arrives at the secret lair of the PtStWaR. More escapes ensue1 to illustrate the imponderable and inexplicable design decisions made when building the PtStWaR which turns out to be a set of large Arks. Finally, the world is completely destroyed through catastrophic (one might even say “biblical”) flooding except for the lucky few hundred thousand on the Arks and now it’s time to remake the human race.
I spent a great deal of the movie laughing and groaning at the horrible science, terrible storytelling, questionable actions, and impossible escapes. The movie ends with the onboard scientists learning (with magical space-satellite-technology-that-works-in-minutes-not-years) that the African continent had been spared the catastrophic flooding (because the landmass had been raised several thousand feet, yet the Himalayas had been flooded. Insert head-scratch here) so the Arks set sail for the Cape of Good Hope to start civilization over. The End.
This is the point where I think the story gets interesting.
According to characters just before the credits, Africa survived as a landmass and wasn’t flooded. We were shown lots of devastating earthquakes and other massive craziness during the movie, so we may assume that even if the African landmass is there, the existing infrastructure has been wiped out, at least in a country-wide network sense. There may be some local pockets of normalcy around smaller power plants, farms, or other facilities, but for our heroes’ continued story, we can posit widespread destruction.2
So, here we have a flotilla of highly technologically-advanced ships, purportedly with all the bits and pieces need to get a technological society up and running again. They are sailing for the Cape of Good Hope which is the location of the former South African city of Cape Town, which we’re assuming has been destroyed. The metro area of Cape Town had, at last census, 3.7 million inhabitants, most of whom I will assume were not given the opportunity to join the chosen people on the Arks. A lot of these people (it takes an awful lot of effort to kill 3.7 million people) will still be around when the Arks make landfall. These people may take exception to a bunch of Johnny-come-Latelys helping themselves to their land.
Proceed with story. This is the interesting part.
There is so much potential for interesting conflict here. We have the locals, we have the diverse set of people on the Arks (from all nations and backgrounds), we have a “need to farm or we’ll all die” imperative. There’s also going to be some eventual haves, have-nots conflict aboard the Arks dealing with the people who “own” the technology and the people who are merely passengers.
Please! Someone write this script. I’d go see it as the sequel, “2014: Two Years after 2012”.
- The entirety of the movie is about the protagonist and his family’s narrow escapes to become part of the chosen few, yet there is so much on screen destruction and death that by the time they’ve managed to close the pod bay doors in order to start the engines (because you can’t start engines without closing your doors for some reason) I couldn’t care less whether they made it or not. One, or three, or twenty more deaths amongst the carnage would have gone unremarked and I wasn’t invested in their survival. [↩]
- One interesting point in the movie is that the Earth’s crust “shifted” so that Wisconsin was now at the axis of rotation, i.e. the north pole, except that the magnetic field had also flipped so it was the south pole. This crustal realignment puts the Cape of Good Hope at approximately the latitude of Tierra del Fuego. This is not the most hospitable place to launch a new civilization. [↩]