Being a rich teenager is rough. At least that's what movies have taught us over the years. Spoiled rich kids never have enough anything, even when they have everything. Their parents universally neglect them, they're all into drugs, and most of them have violent tendencies. This is certainly what it's like growing up rich on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, at least according to this book turned movie (Care to hazard a guess where Nick McDonell the then 17 year-old author of the novel grew up?) . And you thought being rich would be fun.
'Twelve' is packed to the rafters with one lonely teenager after another. Their soulless quest in life is to become popular and do drugs. That's pretty much what 'Twelve' consists of. We're supposed to feel sorry for this band of wealthy socialites with their daddy issues, but instead you may find yourself yelling at the TV, "You've got overstuffed trust funds! It's not that bad!" Still, these kids sulk around New York like the housekeeper sprinkled downers on their grapefruit halves that morning!
To try and break down the convoluted cast of characters would be futile. White Mike is really the only character worth following, even though his inner demons, brought about by his inability to his mom's death, become fairly overdramatic. White Mike is the resident drug dealer, handing out baggies of "happiness" to the wealthy kids of his neighborhood when they can afford it. White Mike's not rich himself, but he's in with the rich crowd as long as he keeps them strung out on their favorite drugs.
The characters range from the requisite high school hottie who is constantly manipulative, a young teenager just trying to fit in so he throws parties (Rory Culkin), a vicious drug dealer who supplies White Mike with his drugs (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson), and a steroid-filled rage-a-holic who has a thing for Samurai swords. Throw in a few more slutty cheerleader types to round out the skeezy sex appeal and you've got 'Twelve.'
This movie, in one word, is excruciating. This is the second time I've seen it, the first time was at Sundance. I hated it then and I hate it even more now. It's a meaningless waste of time with characters who are complete wastes of perfectly good space. Joel Schumacher's direction manages to make everything just a bit more tiring and overtly melodramatic. He makes most of these kids into twisted martyrs when in fact they're all stupid and vapid enough to get themselves into these situations.
Truthfully, the only real reason to watch the movie is for Kiefer Sutherland's slick, gruff narration. He's the guiding light in a movie full of dim stories, moronic kids, and the parents that despise them.
If I were compiling a top ten list of the worst films of 2010, 'Twelve' would just about be #1.
'Twelve' was shot in HD and has been given and AVC encode on this Blu-ray. Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 'Twelve' looks rather good, but makes some missteps along the way.
Fine detail looks great most of the time, but there are a few soft shots that seem almost out of place, especially near the end. Certain shots are bathed in florescent yellow or icy blue, you know, to add to the oh-so dramatic feel of the movie. Other than the color-tinged shots (which have obviously been done on purpose) skintones are manifested with great accuracy. Beads of sweat and reddened cheeks can be seen on people who are high on drugs or beginning to lose it. New York and its wide variety of buildings look great here. Brick work never has a hint of aliasing. Contrast is well done, especially during the dream scenes where a darkened White Mike stands, juxtaposed, against a solid white background.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is everything you'd want from a movie like this. It handles all the dialogue well, and gives a wonderful stage for Kiefer Sutherland's crackly voice. Ambient noise adds to the effect, with the raging parties and the noise of the partiers pulsing from the rear channels. LFE is engaged whenever a new hip-hop song bleeds into the soundtrack. Gun shots are produced with fantastic accuracy as a pop, pop, pop sends bullets whizzing through crowds of screaming kids. There's nothing here that will blow you away, but you couldn't ask for a better audio experience for this movie.
Experiencing 'Twelve' for the second time made me realize how much I hated it when I saw it the first time. I remember sitting there in the audience at Sundance, as Joel Schumacher and his entourage, complete with 50 Cent, walked through the doors and sat down. After the movie was over I wondered to myself, are they really proud of that? How could they be? Can't they see how horrendous it is? At least you don't have to experience the pain, because you're going to take my advice and stay as far away from this movie as possible. One to avoid.