Review: ‘San Andreas’ an uninteresting, cinematic disaster

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Review: ‘San Andreas’ an uninteresting, cinematic disaster.

Where’s Irwin Allen when you need him? He was the Master of Disaster, a director and producer who gave us misery masterpieces like “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno,” films that gave cinematic calamity a good name.

Whether it’s in 3D or 2D, no matter where the film is set or what disaster the heroes have to encounter, the defining moments of an OMG! film are more identical than monozygotic twins. 1. In “San Andreas” Dwayne Johnson, the actor formerly known as The Rock, goes head-to-head with his biggest foe ever — the tectonic fault line that runs through most of California. He plays Ray, a Los Angeles Fire Department rescue-helicopter pilot who tries to save his wife (Carla Gugino) and daughter (Alexandra Daddario) in the wake of a devastating earthquake in San Francisco. How big is the quake? “Even though it is happening in California,” says a seismologist (Paul Giamatti), “you will feel it on the East Coast.” Come to see The Rock!

Really, that’s about all there is to say about “San Andreas,” the brain-rattling disaster of a disaster film directed by Brad Peyton and starring Dwayne Johnson. (Don’t worry, systematic pummeling is all your brain will be used for during the film anyway.) To appreciate the effect of watching this movie, here is a suggestion: Go to your music collection and find the loudest, angriest heavy metal music you’ve got (something where they use jackhammers for percussion), put on headphones and crank it up UNTIL EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE THIS. Stay for the collapsing digital buildings! “San Andreas” is an orgy of CGI with pixel dust billowing out of hundreds of buildings made of bits and bytes.

Johnson is tailor made for big action movies, but here he is done in by a script that uses lines like, “I know this sounds crazy but…” as a crutch to push the action forward. Our knight – with shining tattoo on a boulder-sized bicep – flies around in a cute, red, whirling chopper, makes daredevil swoops that save victims just a fraction of a second away from death, and comes out a surefire winner. There’s yet ANOTHER building falling apart! — and lackluster 3D make “San Andreas” one of the most visually uninteresting action flicks to come along in some time. The only thing less interesting than the look is the dialogue, which consists mostly of the actors mouthing, “Are you hurt?” or “Oh, this is not good,” or my favourite, “It’s an earthquake!” The only cast member given more to do is Giamatti, who, as Mr. The movie is too earnest by half, from the schmaltzy score that swells underneath the scenes of chaos to the heartfelt reconciliation scenes between Johnson and Gugino — Ahhh… don’t you have something better to do, like rescue your kid, than discuss what went wrong in your marriage right now?

Ray and his team are going to fly up to the dam to help with rescue efforts, so Blake flies to school with Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd), the ultra-rich oily developer her mother Emma (Carla Gugino) has been seeing, on his private jet. Massive quakes strike all along the San Andreas fault, from Los Angeles, where Emma is, all the way to San Francisco, where Blake has arrived. (Don’t worry if you don’t know much about the fault; this is the kind of movie where brilliant professors like Lawrence explain grade-school basics to their brilliant students at Cal Tech.) So that’s it, really.

There are also, presumably, many millions of deaths, but we only see one in any kind of detail, and it’s a plot point. “San Andreas” is a throwback of sorts to ’70s disaster films like “Airport” (though, in retrospect, that film looks more and more like “The Love Boat” set on an airplane). With a chopper and his estranged wife, Emma (Carla Cugino) holding his hand, the man has all that he needs to stick his metaphorical tongue out at the worst earthquake in human history. In this case, it’s a hapless British lad who gets a massive shard of glass in his upper thigh, but still manages to swim, climb stairs and generally scamper around as a tsunami strikes San Francisco.

But not before one heroic act – in San Andreas, it’s picking up a sobbing young girl, running with her in his arms and throwing her into someone else’s arms as though she’s a rugby ball. Blake gasps, “I love you, Daddy.” Could the granddaddy of disaster movies Bruce Willis (from Die Hard) have reacted with a better expression than Rock? So San Andreas offers a two-for-one deal: there are two kinds of natural calamities in the film and both Los Angeles and San Francisco go crash boom bang.

San Andreas’s high thrills come from low angle shots of skyscrapers crumbling, massive ships crashing across angry water waves; a tiny chopper flying through a gap created by buildings smashing into vertical halves.

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