Review: In ‘San Andreas,’ Dwayne Johnson Rushes to Rescue His Collapsing …

28 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Review: In ‘San Andreas,’ Dwayne Johnson Rushes to Rescue His Collapsing World.

Dwayne Johnson may hold a world record for taking selfies, but he insists he’s not taking a page from Kim Kardashian and publishing a book of his many pics. “No, no, no,” The Rock told me last night at the premiere of his new action disaster film San Andreas (in theaters on May 29). “Here’s the thing, you don’t need a book when you’re in The Guinness Book of World Records.When Hollywood’s beefiest emblem of masculine cool carries his latest action vehicle San Andreas into theaters Friday, it won’t be his co-stars (Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, and millions of pixels of wanton CGI destruction) audiences come to worship with their box office dollars.There are many possible ways to describe San Andreas but it basically goes like this – even if California is falling into the ocean, it doesn’t matter if The Rock is your daddy.

That’s the thing—I have a the record.” The wrestler-turned-actor is talking about earning the Guinness World Records title of the most self-portrait photographs taken in three minutes. It’ll be the 6-foot-5 wall of multicultural muscle with 17 WWE championships under his belt so popular across all four quadrants, he ruled WrestleMania 31 just by showing up and lip synced unabashedly to Taylor Swift on television in the span of a week.

He’s the “franchise Viagra” who out-Vin Dieseled Vin Diesel by exponentially multiplying the amount of testosterone charging though the veins of the Fast & the Furious blockbusters. Mr Rock is a firefighter with a fancy helicopter, the country stars to shake itself into the sea and he judiciously abandons his post to fly to another city to rescue one girl. With the CGI-fuelled destruction as you’d expect from a summer tent-pole movie, the biggest surprise of San Andreas is that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has to dig a little deeper emotionally amidst the rubble.

The superstar who posts inspirational messages to his 23.6 million combined Twitter and Instagram followers about the benefits of hard work, positivity, and #family. Disaster movies have always struck me as extremely sinister in the way they make us care about a small set of people and then spectacularly kill thousands or millions of others around them. And as I printed them out and laid them on the floor to make a final edit, I reflected on my very public journey as a daughter, sister, friend, wife and mother, this book is a candid tribute to all of my fans, who were with me the entire time.” He plays Ray Gaines, an LA Fire Department helicopter pilot who saves his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) during a “seismic swarm” involving the San Andreas Fault and then travels up the coast to try to find daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario), a survivor of the first shockwave in San Francisco.

That said, if you knew your family was in danger and you had the means (and the miscles) to save them you probably would and Brad Peyton’s film does a better job than most of making the main characters fairly likeable. But the half-dozen or so people we care about struggle for survival with what the conventions of genre if not the laws of nature assure us are reasonably good odds. Short of bikes and trains, the duo use every other mode of transport in their race against time, and along the way sort through the wreckage of their marriage.

Blake, meanwhile, has teamed up with English brothers Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and Ollie (young Irish actor Art Parkinson – Rickon in Game of Thrones) to get to higher ground, convinced that Ray and Emma will reach her before it’s too late. In The Mummy Returns, he played the thankless, shirtless role of the Scorpion King, an ancient warrior who sold his soul to the god Anubis only to return centuries later as a monster-man with spider legs and a bad CG facelift. “The Scorpion King and The Rock are both conquerers,” The Rock said at the time, referring to himself in the third person while promoting the film. “The role was tailor-made for me.” Luckily, the movie made money. (It also earned The Rock his first mainstream kudos—the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Sleazebag, proof of how far he’s come.) Its spin-off, The Scorpion King, was the payoff for The Rock; his first starring vehicle scored $160 million worldwide and gave him a foundation for a legit career in film. In fact, as Johnson forged his path into the action game testing the waters in projects across multiple genres, few of them were winners. (Looking at you, Doom.) He took chances and diversified with a surprising comedic turn as a gay bodyguard/aspiring actor in Be Cool, a cameo in Reno 911! Director Brad Peyton worked with Johnson on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and here shows his blockbuster credentials and set-piece savvy with a film whose pacing is as relentless as nature’s wrath. Undoubtedly the biggest draw of the film is what happens when those tectonic plates collide and the sophistication of CG in 2015 ensures that it all comes apart on a truly grand scale.

And in this time, The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment became The Most Electrifying Man In All of Entertainment by shrewdly trading in his crowd-pleasing brand of brow-raising brio for a relatable strain of All-American humility. Within the first few scenes, though, you may find yourself forgetting about his size and thinking more about the everyman trying to reunite his family. Their daughter, meanwhile, has befriended a pair of British brothers (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson) who fulfill both the cute-romantic-interest and the impish-sidekick quotas. And in between the neck-craning moments, there are some touching scenes with Gugino as their characters reflect on how and why they lost their way as a couple.

The dialogue (the script is by Carlton Cuse) consists mainly of variations on “Hurry up!,” “Get out of the way!,” “Oh my god!” and, “Let’s go get our daughter.” That’s as it should be, of course. Eloquence is the first casualty of disaster, though the seismologist (encouraged by a journalist played by Archie Panjabi) does manage to issue a clear and cogent warning. With Paul Giamatti playing a seismologist and Archie Panjabi the journalist interviewing him when disaster strikes, Peyton had a chance to generate a lot of claustrophobic tension by spending more time with them. Instead, they end up spouting too much exposition, with the result that the narrative feels like two-and-a-half stories, as opposed to the three it should have been. The ground-level action is a series of problem-solving challenges, which are stressful, in a fun kind of way, to observe. (The director is Brad Peyton, who also directed Mr.

And that’s just fine, no one is expecting a layered and thoughtful experience and the performers help to elevate the awkwardness to acceptable levels. And so while some would-be blockbusters stake their special-effects budgets on laying waste to just one North American city, “San Andreas” goes for two. (Three if you count Bakersfield, but I’m not sure the movie really does.) The most disturbing thing about this may be how dull and routine it seems. Computer-generated imagery can produce remarkably detailed vistas of disaster — bridges and buildings collapsing; giant ships flung onto urban streets; beloved landmarks pulverized — but the technology also has a way of stripping such spectacles of impact and interest.

And we have seen so many of them recently that it’s hard not to shrug, stifle a yawn and reach for the popcorn when the Golden Gate Bridge once again buckles and sways and drops vehicles into the bay. And after reprising his Hobbs role in Furious 6—this time as part of the Toretto family, sealing his place as a franchise staple—he transcended a generic script and hot competition from Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy to eke out a modest second place showing at the weekend box office for Brett Ratner’s Hercules, a sword and sandals hero’s slice ‘em up that, in the very least, could claim that it boasted a starring turn by Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson. Like Fast & Furious co-star Vin Diesel, Johnson’s displayed a social media savvy that’s only enhanced his brand as America’s brawniest sweetheart. My colleague Michael Cieply recently noted that “San Andreas,” the latest in a long line of California-wrecking movies, arrives when the state is gripped by drought and environmental anxiety. He switched agencies because his CAA reps were too “cynical” about how he should conform to leading man conventions, he told The New York Times, and didn’t support his desire to return to the wrestling ring. “There wasn’t a blueprint of the half-black, half-Samoan former football player-wrestler, who then made his way to Hollywood,” Johnson told Variety. “I was willing to take the risk and then I became myself—it sounds funny to say that.” He also started his own production company.

It might also express a bit of intrastate rivalry, in particular the tension between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, here represented by the larger cities most identified with them in the popular imagination. And the SoCal bias is pretty clear: Los Angeles is battered, but San Francisco is much harder hit, and it’s the home base for the closest thing the movie has to a villain, a soulless incarnation of selfishness and greed. Fire Department helicopter-piloting hero who drops everything to save his daughter and estranged wife when the Big One rips its way up from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He doesn’t throw a single punch, even if he’s driven by the same primal paternal instinct that sent Liam Neeson after his daughter’s kidnappers in Taken, putting that particular set of skills to good use.

And despite scathing early reviews, with no other big-name megastars to shoulder the messy San Andreas alongside him, it’s Johnson’s off-screen star power that will make many root for him this weekend.

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