If you missed the news a while back, 12-12-12 refers to the benefit concert held in New York’s Madison Square Garden for victims of Hurricane Sandy on 12 December 2012.
The DVD of the event combines behind the scenes footage with snippets of the concert. Famous artists who performed include Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, The Who, Roger Waters, Eddie Vedder, Chris Martin and Michael Stipe. Other famous celebrities like Adam Sandler and Chris Rock also make appearances.
If you did not watch the concert, this DVD will frustrate you. Only a few of the performances are shown and most are cut short. The documentary footage is sparse as well. There is no in depth coverage, only brief glimpses of the tragedy and peoples’ response to it. Despite a lack of music footage, noteworthy performances are Bruce Springsteen’s ‘My City in Ruins’, Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind’ and an irreverent, comical rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ by Adam Sandler.
Some of the backstage banter between celebrities is mildly entertaining but this fly on the wall approach becomes stale and unjustified without adequate musical footage. The concert is dominated by aging rock icons like the Stones, Eric Clapton and McCartney, who defy belief, delivering amazing performances despite their age. Rap is squeezed in and represented by Kanye West. His performance is cut short in the film and it felt out of place next to Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. These rockers’ music has a natural cathartic quality and while Kanye’s songs as performance were good the material lacked that anthemic release that the older artists’ music provided.
The pressure of organizing such an event is best highlighted when the website for donations malfunctions. After severe threats toward the website handlers from Madison Square chairperson James L. Dolan, it takes a chance spotting of Google executive Eric Schmidt to save the day.
12-12-12 is fine for once off viewing. It’s fairly entertaining overall. Yet it straddles the line between concert movie and documentary and ends up as neither. Unless you’re a completest and an avid fan of one of the artists involved you should perhaps consider to rent it instead.