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"When there are people like that—who created a calendar system of mind-boggling complexity and accuracy—tell us that some great change is going to take place in our time and that it is a change from which humanity will emerge totally different, we need to take them seriously. We can't just dismiss that as the ravings of some primitive culture."
DVD ReviewBy now most of us have heard that the ancient Maya calendar ends on December 21, 2012, and that many have speculated that day will mean the end of life as we know it. Or some such variation on that theme.
Bookstore shelves are crammed with titles appealing to our need to read about doomsday in our lifetime, and Disinformation has joined the fray by issuing this intelligently complicated documentary featuring some of the more prominent researchers/authors on the subject, like John Major Jenkins, Walter Cruttenden, and Graham Hancock. The fact that Jenkins has a blurb on the back cover proclaiming 2012: Science or Superstition as "definitely the best film so far" should be taken with a grain of salt, especially given that his books are repeatedly mentioned during the 80-minute runtime.
As a commercial for Jenkins—who is by far the most dominant voice on display—I'll bet it is the best. For him, anyways.
For the rest of us regular joes curious about 12/21/12, Nimrod Erez's doc has gathered up a gaggle of very smart guys and allowed them to hit the ground fast talking about "galactic alignments," "catastrophic disillusion," and "cyclical cataclysms," as well as the Procession Of The Equinoxes (which could easily could be its own documentary) mixed in with a bit of spirituality about a coming New Age. There's an assumption the viewer is onboard with some of material already, and perhaps it's not a fault of the interviewees, who are clearly in their own zone of knowledge and comfort. This is a heady brew of information, some of which would come a bit too fast without the moderately dumbed-down explanation from Erez. The material here is deep, and there's very little in the way of Introduction To Ancient Maya, so be prepared.
The gist is that as we approach the end of the fifth cycle of the Maya long count calendar on 12/21/12, common belief amongst many of the interviewees is that it will signal a great change on Earth, the downside being it may come after a globally violent upheaval of some kind. Kind of like shaking the Etch-A-Sketch clean after 5000 or so years of civilization has spent time drawing a very detailed picture. And as we wait for the big reset button to be hit, Erez attempts to link a bit of hard science (as with the meaning of Earth's wobble or the threat of coronal mass ejections) with the more spiritual elements that many believe will occur as the Winter Solstice of 2012 approaches. If we assume for a moment that this is true, it would seem that our technology-heavy world is in for a very rude awakening, and that those are already living off the land and more in touch with so-called Mother Nature will fair best of all. Or as my daughter Sam described it, The Day After Tomorrow 2: Hobo Domination.
This is one of those docs that unintentionally talks above the average viewer, and a primer might be necessary before jumping into 2012: Science or Superstition. That's too bad. Far from a some glossy CG-heavy Discovery Channel documentary, Erez's doc plays like an educational tool, perhaps for those already in step with some of content. There is a message here, however, that is easy to walk away with. It's that some researchers think that impending December of 2012 will unveil a new harmony amongst those left on Earth, and that we-who-are-still-here will develop a more cooperative nature across the planet.
The anticipation of this rumored New Age of humanity sure sounds nice, though after the reminders here of how troubled the world is today my wife Jeanine proclaimed "I'm kind of crabby after watching this!" She's more than ready for 12/21/12. I have to say I agree.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Disinformation has issued 2012: Science or Superstition in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It's a mediocre effort at best. Colors and fleshtones during the interviews appear natural, but some of the other footage carries significantly soft edges. No major debris problems are evident.
Plain and simple.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 stereo. Voice quality from the interview subjects is clear, with no measurable hiss or crackle. This is a rather innocuous but functional track, one that delivers the message with no excessive glitz.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Extras Review: Not much in the way of extras, and what's here is quite brief, but rates high in worthwhile content. Essentially a pair of deleted scenes repackaged as standalone segments, the first is Palenque Tour (03m:52s), featuring Benito Venegas Duran giving a tour of the Maya archeological site near Chiapas, Mexico. He does a nice job of dummying down the layout and purpose of Palenque, and this proved to be extremely fascinating. Ditto for 2012 and Terrence McKenna (06m:46s), in which a number of experts shown in the main doc discuss the mushroom-induced adventures of writer, philosopher, psychonaut, and ethnobotanist McKenna, and his influence on the whole 2012 movement.
The disc is cut into 12 chapters, with no subtitle options.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsThe wealth of apparent intelligence here is impressive, though it may have had more impact if some of the material came with a deeper explanation for us ordinary folk. There's a lot to take in here, and it may require periodic uses of the pause and rewind buttons in order to let some of it sink in properly. The interview subjects all seem passionate and well-versed about the subject, but 80 minutes is far too little time to address all the areas that are brought up.
Smart stuff, but maybe too smart.
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