Here’s what ‘San Andreas’ looks like without special effects

31 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box Office: ‘San Andreas’ Eyes Seismic $48M Debut; ‘Aloha’ Bombing.

The earthquake disaster film, which harkens back to the old Irwin Allen disaster flicks of the ’70s, will easily claim the top spot in North America this weekend and will mark Johnson’s top domestic opening outside of the Fast and Furious franchise.

It would be nice if the publicity surrounding the new blockbuster “San Andreas,” with its science-bending pyrotechnics about the cinematic Big One, encouraged Californians to get ready for the real Big One. That would be as likely as being plucked from the roof of a disintegrating skyscraper by your dashing ex-husband in his emergency helicopter, which he safely maneuvers as all of downtown Los Angeles crashes to the ground. (No spoilers here: That much was in the movie trailer.) True, seismic and emergency officials have had some fun with “San Andreas” the movie. The movie tells the story of Ray Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), an Afghanistan war veteran and a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter pilot.

Cameron Crowe’s romantic drama Aloha, the weekend’s other new offering, isn’t looking so lucky despite its star-studded cast (Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams). Geological Survey seismologist, attended the premiere, took a red carpet picture with star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and live-tweeted corrections to its grander exaggerations.

Rick Wilson, the California Geological Survey’s senior engineering geologist, issued a droll movie review noting that the more dramatic depictions — a giant chasm, those cratering skyscrapers, a breathtakingly large tsunami aiming at the state’s most famous bridge — were not exactly realistic. In the film, Gaines takes the blame for the death of his daughter Mallory, something that eventually drives wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), to ask for a divorce and to go into the arms of property mogul Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd). Ray and Emma also have another daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario), whose main function is apparently to serve as eye candy, by, for example, calling her dad from Daniel’s pool while clad only in a bikini.

In San Andreas, Johnson plays a helicopter pilot called upon to execute multiple nick-of-time rescues in the PG-13 movie that will be playing in 3,777 theaters by Friday, the majority of them 3-D houses. A USGS report issued in 2008 predicted 1,800 deaths and $213 billion in damage would result from a 7.8 quake on the south end of the San Andreas fault — numbers that could be reduced by preparation. While Blake lives the high life courtesy of mom’s richy-rich boyfriend, poor Ray is left mundane chores, such as delivering a bicycle to her new home or saving her from a tsunami-hit skyscraper later on. Millions have been spent by governments and others to persuade Californians to put aside enough water and food for several days, to bolt down homes and strap in water heaters, to purchase earthquake insurance. The disaster film teams Johnson with director Brad Peyton, who also guided the actor through 2012’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and producer Beau Flynn, who produced both Journey 2 and Johnson’s 2014 Hercules.

Seismologists Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) and Kim (Will Yun Lee) at the California Institute of Technology decide to test their new earthquake-detection gizmo in safe and controlled circumstances. The destruction of one of the Modern Wonders of the World serves as an introduction to what a disaster movie with an almost unlimited effects budget can offer. From Sony, the Hawaii-set Aloha stars Cooper as a military contractor who falls for an Air Force pilot played by Stone, only to encounter a past lover in the form of McAdams.

Jerry Brown occasionally has used the specter of earthquakes to tout his water plan, but other than that has focused on fiscal troubles and the drought. The work of cinematographer Steve Yedlin, who is also attached to the next Star Wars installment, is done on a massive scale, offering a detailed and realistic depiction of the dam crumbling and the ensuing floods.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has forwarded an ambitious program to retrofit buildings and upgrade the city’s water system pre-Big One, efforts that would cost billions. Lawrence mumbles some technobabble about upcoming greater earthquakes from Los Angeles to San Francisco and this is when the dysfunctional Gaines family become the center of the universe amid the deaths of millions. After Rick has to cancel a trip to take Blake back to her university in San Francisco due to the earthquake, she has no problems with going with Daniel on his private jet. Produced by Crowe and Scott Rudin, Aloha — which at one point was penciled in for a December 2014 release but was then moved into 2015 — cost at least $37 million after rebates. It has already had to withstand critical comments from former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, which were exposed in emails made public as part of the Sony hack.

Scientists say the “normalcy bias” — in this case, the two decades since the last big quake in Northridge — has lulled Californians into thinking that the absence of quakes is the norm. “People who live in flood areas where they’re flooded every three, four years tend to be prepared for a flood. Without any jolting reminders, only about 10% of Californians who have a home insurance policy also have earthquake insurance, according to Chris Nance of the California Earthquake Authority, the insurance clearinghouse.

In one particularly offensive scene, Blake, Ben and Ollie stroll through San Francisco talking about the tourism objects there right after seeing thousands of buildings collapse before their eyes. State studies have shown that the same proportion of people prepare for quakes in high-risk and low-risk areas, meaning that the preparation is driven by human behavior more than anything. Mileti said studies show people need to be told in simple terms what to do; they need to be encouraged by people they know — the “monkey see, monkey do” rule — and they need to be nagged over and over.

Oddly, perhaps, quakes elsewhere don’t spur preparations here — in part because the images, like those recently from Nepal, are so horrific that they immobilize. “You look at this movie and think, ‘So I have extra water — now that’s going to make a difference?

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