In 2007 it was announced that Transformers director Michael Bay’s next movie would be 2012: The War For Souls, based on the Whitley Strieber novel of the same name . . .

Since then the project seems to have died a quiet death. Bay directed the highly anticipated Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen sequel and is looking at bringing I Am Number Four, an unpublished young adult sci-fi book by James Frey, to the big screen before tackling Transformers 3.

In any case this week sees the release of Independence Day director Roland Emmerich's own 2012 movie starring John Cusack so it is doubtful that Hollywood will ever mount another big budget 2012 project. . .

2012 is of course the year in which the ancient Mayan calendar expires. What does this mean? No one knows for sure to be honest. New Age types believe that 2012 will be a cataclysmic year of great importance. Some of them believe the planet will be destroyed following a natural disaster or perhaps a nuclear war. Others believe that there will be a “shift in consciousness” for humanity. What does that mean? Nobody knows either. For all we know it might mean that America will finally convert to the metric system - who knows! Maybe the Mayans didn’t “see” the future after all, but just weren’t into planning that far ahead . . .

Unlike Y2K, it is all infuriatingly vague as far as Doomsday predictions go. However whatever happens – mankind dying in a ball of fire or reaching a new state of consciousness – Hollywood will be there to cash in on it.

So is the Michael Bay project really dead? Time will tell. Normally one would say that there isn't space for two major 2012 Hollywood movies. But 1998 for instance saw the release of two Earth Being Destroyed by an Asteroid movies, namely Armageddon (ironically also a Michael Bay project) and Deep Impact. The only problem is that to cash in on the vague media hysteria surrounding December 21, 2012 (the exact day the Mayan calendar ends – keep your diary open!) any movie must have 2012 in that movie’s title; otherwise there will be little point to the exercise.

So what will happen in 2012 according to Strieber’s book? Well, it seems that Earth will be invaded by reptilian aliens from another dimension intent on stealing our . . . souls! No, really.

2012: The War for Souls reads like a fictionalized account of author David Icke’s delusional rants. One is never quite sure whether author Strieber himself takes all this stuff seriously either to be honest. After all, Strieber is the science fiction author who claimed in his best-selling 1987 novel Communion to have been kidnapped and anally probed by aliens (what is it with the anal probing always?). Since then Strieber has made his own little cottage industry out of his alleged alien abduction experiences, writing several sequels as well as some “fiction” works involving UFOs and government cover-ups. (Rumor had it that Troy director Wolfgang Peterson was interested in filming Strieber’s novel The Grays – about so-called grey aliens - at one point.)

"2012: The War for Souls reads like a fictionalized account of David Icke’s rants . . ."

Never above mocking other people for their deep-felt beliefs we here at The Sci-Fi Movie Page were quite intent on disliking 2012: The War for Souls, but we actually found ourselves enjoying Strieber’s novel. Or at least chunks of it, which we found “immensely entertaining” as a blurb on the paperback promises. It is easy to see why a film-maker such as Michael Bay would be interested in filming it. The novel kicks off with some big – and we mean big! – explosions in which the pyramids at Giza are destroyed.

This sort of wholesale destruction of global landmarks has “Hollywood” and “Blockbuster” written over in it in huge bold typeface . . .

And all this within the first few pages!

From thereon the action doesn’t let on as an alternate version of Earth is being overrun by alien invaders that steal humans’ souls, leaving behind mindless husks who are culled as manual labor slaves. Why do I believe Strieber takes this sort of thing seriously? Because all of this is “witnessed” by a science fiction writer named Wylie Dale who writes about it in his latest book. By the way, Dale has been – you guessed it! - kidnapped by aliens in the past. Dale is so obviously based on Strieber himself that it is all rather painful to read. One can only hope that all this icky post-modernism gets written out of any movie version altogether.

The novel is at its best when focusing on the alien invasion itself instead of Dale’s efforts to prevent them from invading his own planet. Sure, these invasion scenes seem to be copied directly from Steven Spielberg’s remake of War of the Worlds, but with the American government actually aiding the alien invaders this time round. We’re just suckers for this sort of End of the World thing!

If it all sounds too serious, Strieber at least has some fun occasionally.

At one point he reveals that Earth’s Power Elite has been infiltrated by shape-shifting vicious reptilian aliens and that Robert Mugabe and Ann Coulter are in fact two such aliens (they are actually a married couple in their home dimension). Ha-ha.

Often one wishes that the book has more such humorous moments, but Strieber instead lays on one audacious event and senseless plot twist after the other until one feels as if one is reading an L. Ron Hubbard novel. A prequel to Battlefield Earth perhaps. Warning: plot spoilers. For instance, Dale and his wife turn out to be aliens themselves! Members of an alien rebellion opposed to invading Earth, that is. They however use a special DNA cream lotion to change into humans forever. No, seriously. End spoilers!

One can see why Hollywood is attracted to Strieber's novel. Like most modern Hollywood science fiction efforts there is little, if any, science in it. Just a lot of sketchily drawn characters and loads of non-stop violent action. But it all keeps on getting more and more ridiculous with each turning page until one feels that maybe it is all a sequel to Men in Black . . . but without the jokes, a bit like, um, Men in Black 2.

Should audiences be disappointed that 2012: The War for Souls will probably never get made into a movie? Not unless you actually liked Battlefield Earth . . .



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).