‘San Andreas’ movie has unrealistic science, quake expert says

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘San Andreas’ movie has unrealistic science, quake expert says.

“I gave them free advice, some of which they took – play up ‘drop, cover, and hold on’ – but much of which they didn’t – magnitude 9’s are too big for the San Andreas, and it can’t produce a big tsunami,” said Thomas Jordan, USC professor and director of the Southern California Earthquake Center. Dwayne Johnson says he has no problem channelling the sense of family and drama in his upcoming blockbuster movie “San Andreas” because he has lived through similar life-or-death moments. (Source: Movie Still) Dwayne Johnson says he has no problem channelling the sense of family and drama in his upcoming blockbuster movie “San Andreas” because he has lived through similar life-or-death moments.When “Earthquake” was released in 1974, it not only had Sensurround but also a cast led by Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Genevieve Bujold, Richard Roundtree and Walter Matthau. Jordan’s comments come after the film’s director, Brad Peyton, said in published reports that the film was based on science provided by Jordan, whom he called a consultant to the film, and that he “researched a lot” with Jordan.

The disaster film promises nothing more than the complete CGI destruction of California as foregrounded by Dwayne Johnson’s jackfruit-sized biceps, and it delivers exactly that. The WWE wrestler-turned-actor, 43, said the movie has brought back the bad memories relating to his encounter with the natural disaster, reported Contactmusic. “I’ve been through natural disasters. After providing some blissfully stupid B-movie thrills for its first hour, the film suffers from spectacle overkill (you know what’s cooler than an apocalyptic earthquake? I was down in Miami and I lived down there for Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which was a category five (hurricane),” he said. “It was a tough, tough time.

Two apocalyptic earthquakes … and a tsunami) and a fatal lack of invention in its second, more concerned with toppling buildings one by one than ever drumming up a lick of suspense about the fates of those inside them. “San Andreas” is the kind of film that can imply the violent deaths of millions of innocent people without batting an eye, just so long as the five or six Californians who matter make it out with only cuts and bruises. So I think the idea of coming together like we were showcasing in our story resonates with people and I think if there is any connection for me, it would be that.” The recent earthquake in Nepal might make that proposition a bit dicier, offering a reminder that catastrophic natural disasters aren’t exactly, well, fun. (The film was forced to retool some of its marketing materials as a result.) But as thoroughly cheesy and mindless as it is, “San Andreas” certainly isn’t glib about its central calamity, and no one is lining up expecting documentary realism anyway.

In fact, this disaster flick avoids being a complete disaster and a cliche thanks to Johnson’s star turn and mind-boggling, highly detailed special effects. The star once known as The Rock has the magnetism and muscle, literally and figuratively, of two or three actors, and the visual effects are so remarkable and realistic that it seems as though you’re watching horrifying news footage at times. Buildings topple as if made of Lego blocks, skyscrapers rip from the middle, a ship crashes into the Golden Gate bridge and a Tsunami wave washes away almost all of San Francisco — all brought to you by CGI maestros in vivid detail. After Cal Tech seismologist Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) predicts a massive quake at Hoover Dam, he realizes the model they’ve created works and the Hoover Dam quake was just the beginning. The disaster movie opens with a search-and-rescue helicopter crew from the LA Fire Department trying to pluck a young woman from her car, which somersaulted over a cliff and is teetering on the rocky hillside.

His soon-to-be-ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), has shacked up with uber-rich building developer Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd), who is busy constructing the tallest, sturdiest skyscraper in San Francisco (this bit of information may be useful later). Ray and Emma have a college-age daughter named Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who thumbs a ride up to the Bay Area on Daniel’s private jet, where she meets cute with fumbling, flustering British 20-something Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his obnoxious, wisecracking younger brother, Ollie (Art Parkinson). Which brings us to what makes this summer extravaganza so ridden with fault lines, but first taking a stab at the story — Ray (Johnson) is a search and rescue pilot with Los Angeles Fire Department whom we see saving a damsel in distress in the opening scene of the film.

He’s just arrived back in Pasadena to put his theories into practice when the entire San Andreas fault lights up with warning signs, indicating the Big One is imminent. His wife Emma (Carla Guigino) is divorcing him and moving in with her rich boyfriend whom we are sure we will find as the villain of the piece pretty soon. As the assembled characters dodge debris and do lots of screaming — the quake demolishes L.A. and San Francisco simultaneously — Peyton shows us both the computer-scaled chaos (well rendered, if indistinguishable from the similar destruction present in every disaster- and comicbook film of the past half-decade) as well as some glimpses at more immediate epicenters. After the first quake scene when we are treated to a wide shot of the ground under Los Angeles doing the worm, followed by Ray’s helicopter maneuvering around falling buildings like they’re debris on the street, the action in the film gets repetitive.

Overall, Jordan said he enjoyed the movie. “It’s a good action flick and spectacular special effects … but not realistic from a seismological point of view. It felt like watching the same sports highlights on different channels – there’s some variation between each station but it’s basically the same thing. Instead, the film simply doubles down on its initial gambit, as Giamatti’s scientist discovers that the biggest, most devastating quake in American history is merely a precursor for a bigger, more most-devastating quake that could turn California into Arizona Bay at any moment. It’s off to the rescue races as Ray turns into a veritable Superman, minus the cape and with the ability to fly although in a chopper or plane or boat skimming over churning, debris-infested waters.

Thanks to this lack of tension — when two major world cities lie in ruins, it’s hard to get too worked up over the danger of the rubble re-collapsing — the film drifts off in its last hour. In the middle of all this, Giamatti’s Lawrence keeps on popping up, warning a reporter (Archie Punjabi) that there is one even bigger quake on its way. Meanwhile, Blake and Ben develop a nervous sort of romance as they trudge through the streets, with Blake losing a new article of clothing at every aftershock. Giamatti’s character to provide a scientific explanation for what’s happening (it’s big and it’s bad, with egghead talk kept to a minimum) the movie is almost all action all the time with the dam disaster just the ominous opening act for what’s to come in the Golden State.

Bay Area natives will surely chuckle at some of the geographic oddities here, as the trio consult a map to find their way from Chinatown to Coit Tower, a landmark that ought to be easily visible simply by looking up. Daddario maintains a bright screen presence, and she manages to keep her half of the narrative afloat well enough, yet Johnson is the main attraction. Outside of Ray ripping off a car door in the film’s opening scene and rescuing his wife (both happen in the first 3o minutes), he’s pretty useless.

A couple of scenes — notably with actors in the foreground, catastrophic destruction in the background — seem like a marriage of real and reel, but the panoramic shots look authentic and a water-logged rescue may have you holding your breath. “San Andreas,” directed by Brad Peyton (“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”) and available in 2-D or 3-D, is like the disaster movies of old, which followed a set formula. Best utilized when he’s allowed to arch his famous right eyebrow at the tumult unfolding around him, Johnson affects a more solemn, Stallonian presence here, and he’s as solid an action hero as ever. Instead of lifting rocks, carrying four people at once to safety, or stopping a car from going off a cliff by holding onto its bumper, Ray spends most of his screen time mumbling about his daughter and arguing with his estranged wife.

Still, one can almost sense the actor breathing a sigh of relief when, after parachuting into the infield of AT&T Park with Emma, he gets to quip, “It’s been a while since I got you to second base.” The line is dumb, forehead-slapping, and totally out of sync with the rest of “San Andreas.” It’s also the best thing in it. Despite a good cast, the one-dimensional script, the guffaw-worthy dialogues and cheesy plot devices ensure that you end up laughing at the wrong places. In fact, there are times when you actually miss Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day) and his wizardry of making mayhem so plausible and convincing.

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