Roland Emmerich is apparently suffering from seasonal schizophrenia. On one hand, 2012 is the kind of over-the-top, big-action popcorn flick that is tailor-made for summer. But then there’s so much (attempted) drama, family bonding, and weeping that you’re bound to roll your eyes at least a dozen times.

The thing is, there really isn’t anything more over-the-top than the complete and utter destruction of, say, the world.

On second thought, perhaps ‘complete and utter destruction’ is a bit of an understatement.

What happens to dear, beloved Mother Earth in 2012 makes what happened to dear, beloved Mother Earth in The Day After Tomorrow seem like a dusting of snow floating on a gentle breeze. When Deep Impact hit theaters in 1998, it came with the tagline, “Oceans rise. Cities fall. Hope survives.” In 2012, Oceans erupt. Continents fall. John Cusack survives. (And no, that’s not a spoiler. He’s the star, for heaven’s sake.) Edge-of-your-seat excitement and mind-boggling special effects also survive… in a BIG way.

But then Emmerich had to get all gooey on us.

The film’s downfall (if you can get past the deaths of hundreds of millions of people) is that it focuses too much on the story. There’s a fractured family, a blossoming romance, an estranged father, an affair, and the inevitable bad-guy-with-questionable-morals. There’s also a particularly idiotic scene with a cutesy-tootsy puppy that leaves the audience wondering if Emmerich wants us to care more about a single dog than the entire human race.

Look– if you’re seeing 2012, chances are pretty good that you’re seeing it to watch Emmerich destroy the world. In this, he succeeds on a level never-before-seen in movies. The special effects are literally jaw-dropping (and, alone, worth the price of admission). You will be hard-pressed to figure out what is CG and what is real. (SPOILER: It’s all fake.)

I just don’t need my popcorn movie messed up by a lot of touchy-feely garbage.

Sure, it’s Emmerich’s trademark. In Independence Day, though, it worked because there were actual breaks between the scenes of epic disaster. (Blow up the world, hug, cry, blow up the spaceship. Fine.) 2012, after the first 1/2-hour, is non-stop global destruction. It doesn’t need a little Terms of Endearment tossed in for good measure.

Just destroy the world, and let me enjoy it.

1.5/5 stars