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What has technology unleashed on us now? At one time, filmmakers were content to tease audiences with catastrophic events like the sinking of an ocean liner or a blazing high-rise. Soapy survivor tales stood alongside the heroic efforts of men and women rising to save lives against the odds.

Now Roland Emmerich, the doomsayer to end all doomsayers, gives us the end of the world, using the Mayan calendar as his compass. But somehow John Cusack outruns, out-drives and out-flies the cracks and crevices seeking to swallow him up, and I couldn’t for the life of me escape the sense that this horrific disaster of a film might actually keep going on forever.

The effects lose all sense of speciality and finesse because Emmerich uses them as blunt instruments to batter our sensibilities. He wants to destroy things in ways that we haven’t seen before, but I think he’s forgotten that during his illustrious career (Independence Day, Godzilla) he’s already depleted his CGI landmark toolbox.

And it’s not that I felt particularly sorry for anyone, either onscreen or in the audience, but I had to wonder about poor Chiwetel Ejiofor as he struggled mightily to keep some degree of perspective in all the phony madness and mayhem on display. I want someone to recognize that this man is a great actor, so that maybe he can climb his way up to purgatory after this hellaciously epic fall into the Hollywood abyss. Grade: F