With this weekend's release of 2012, we remembered 1984's 2010: The Year They Make Contact and wondered, "How did we get from Roy Scheider and aliens to the end of the world?" Then we realized: The answer is Nic Cage.
If 2012 is as successful as those Hollywood Insiders expect it to be - and with a $23.7 million Friday opening, that looks to be a sure thing right now - then the obvious follow-up isn't the 2013 television series that director Roland Emmerich has been talking about, but a prequel: 2011... explaining not only what happened in the year before the end of the world, but just how how the Monolith-led transformation of Jupiter in 2010 led into the whole thing. That's right: We're talking crossover territory, and who better to take us there than Nicolas Cage?
This is what we're suggesting: While Danny Glover's President and Oliver Platt's chief of staff are hurredly making plans to survive the oncoming apocalypse that they've secretly discovered (as per 2012), a maverick government scientists played by Cage is studying the data captured the spaceship Alexei Leonov (in 2010) and comes up with a plan to contact the aliens behind the Monoliths to try and convince them to cool the Earth from the core temperature-induced collapse we've been promised. Part of this involves going public with that whole "end of the world" thing, which means that before too long, Cage and his family (including surly son Shia LeBeouf) are on the run, being chased by US government agents ordered to keep him quiet at all costs.
While on the run, Cage meets up with 2010's Roy Scheider - or a CGI-animated version thereof, using motion capture technology of John Turturro, just because - who was there when Jupiter got turned into a second sun by the Monoliths at the end of the very-confusing-when-I-was-a-kid second Clarke movie, who is suitably shocked that the government is keeping this whole end of the world thing under wraps, and helps him contact the aliens through some ridiculous-yet-exciting sequence that doesn't really matter in the long run, before dying to add pathos to (a) Cage's mission, and (b) seeing Roy Scheider live again, even if it's only as a CGI character probably animated by Robert Zemeckis, let's face it. Then! Dave Bowman - again, computer generated to look like Keir Dullea, but this time, it's a motion captured performance by Ewan McGregor - appears to Cage and gives him temporary superpowers to fight off the government agents, leading to a series of Matrix-esque action sequences that don't seem dated at all, before listening to Cage try to emote while pleading for the survival of the planet.
Moved by Cage's nervous, jerky-headed plea, Bowman explains that the mysterious aliens can, in fact, save the Earth, but in order to do so, they'll have to abandon Jupiter and come and hide inside the Earth in order to do so. Acting as the ambassador for all of humanity, Cage says that that sounds like a great idea and thanks a lot, and so we're treated to an overblown moment where thousands of Monoliths emerge from the star that was Jupiter, fly towards Earth - Cut to scenes of men in front of radar screens freaking out about all the UFOs flying towards the planet, but just before they call the President, the space radar goes quiet because all the Monoliths have gone into stealth mode - and then float gently to the ground, and then through the ground, before we get a cameo of 2012's Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) looking at a computer saying "The core temperature has dropped! Now there's a chance we just might survive this damn thing!" to someone on the phone, with the additional "And that's how the end of the world didn't actually end the world, and how there aren't two suns in 2012!" being optional depending on how much the audience needs spoonfeeding.
As Dave Bowman disappears, US agents catch up with Cage and his family, killing Cage and causing Shia to not only realize that he loves his dad after all, but also swear to carry on his father's work of talking to aliens and saving the world through diplomacy, car chases and being a maverick. The movie ends with a title card of "ONE YEAR LATER" and shows Shia - with a beard, to show that it is "later" - wandering around the ruins of whatever major city is deemed appropriate, tears in his eyes and looking at the sky, telling his father that he loves him.
I'm telling you, Hollywood: This is the movie that everyone wants to see. Sure, some may dismiss it as shameless fanboy continuity pandering between two movies that are actually unconnected in all but their titles, but to them, I say: Nic Cage, Shia LeBeouf and the CGI reanimation of Roy Scheider. I'll take my 10% in gold bars whenever you're ready, thanks very much.