TMI! This San Andreas ‘ Star Shares How He Would React To An Earthquake

30 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘San Andreas’ leaves critics shaken, not stirred.

Starring Dwayne Johnson, the earthquake disaster movie is scoring high on the box-office Richter scale, while Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’ battles blistering reviews.

Every summer, we get at least one big knuckle-headed popcorn movie that rises above lame plotting, dopey dialogue, gratuitous carnage and unbelievable action because it makes the effort to be likable. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, New Line and Warner Bros.’ San Andreas is recording strong seismic activity at the Friday box office, where it’s tipped to gross $14 million-$16 million for the day on its way to a weekend debut north of $40 million. This season “San Andreas,” an old-fashioned, if also outlandish disaster movie about earthquakes leveling Los Angeles and San Francisco, is that film, and a large part of the credit must go to Dwayne Johnson, whose likability goes for miles and miles in this big-budget B-movie. Not unlike the Golden State itself, film critics have also been divided by the disaster flick: Some appreciate its unabashed spectacle, but others can’t get past its CGI sheen and wooden dialogue.

In an ambivalent but somewhat favorable review, The Times’ Kenneth Turan writes, “‘San Andreas’ has the technical might to make the post-quake horrors it depicts all too plausible.” On the other hand, the movie is “woefully by-the-numbers from a dramatic point of view. 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). At home, Ray tries to maintain a close relationship with his college-age daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario, “True Detective”), while being divorced by his beautiful wife (Carla Gugino), who is about to move in with super-rich architect Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd). And its dialogue is so of the ‘this is gonna hurt’ variety that I tallied close to half a dozen ‘Oh, my Gods’ before I stopped counting.” And yet, Turan writes, “films this preposterous can be engaging if you know what you’re getting in for, especially if they have the advantage of Dwayne Johnson, once known as the Rock, in the starring role.” The Boston Globe’s Tom Russo similarly says, “For all the unabashed cliches and straight-faced silliness delivered by Johnson, Paul Giamatti, and their generally capable castmates, they’re doing something right.

The spectacle they put together with director Brad Peyton … does get us pulling for these folks to make it out of the rubble OK.” Russo adds, “As ever with this genre, being able to compartmentalize concerns about questionable taste is an audience prerequisite. … But there’s no denying the images are darkly spectacular.” Less impressed is USA Today’s Brian Truitt, who says that “the cringeworthy dialogue and unmoving earnestness are the biggest disasters in this mostly forgettable action flick.” As leading man, “Johnson does what he can with the material, though no one is helped by Carlton Cuse’s ham-fisted script. 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.

Just before this, Blake flies to San Francisco with Daniel, where, in scenes that reek of “meet cute,” she meets aspiring English architect Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his cute-(that word again)-as-a-button little brother Ollie (scene-stealer Art Parkinson). Even Gareth Edwards’ ‘Godzilla’ knew to zoom in on a desperate dog once in a while. … But ‘San Andreas’ wants the applause without the tears, offering no emotional impact, just cool shots of streets splintering apart.” And the New York Times’ A.O. 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.

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. But if ever a screenplay was created by a software program, this literary piece of low-hanging fruit from Carlton Cuse (“Bates Motel”), Jeremy Passmore (“Red Dawn”) and newcomer Andre Fabrizio is it, right down to the groan-inducing “Let’s go get our daughter.” But if you want to see Hoover Dam hit by a 9.6-magnitude earthquake accompanied by canned disaster-movie music from Andrew Lockington (“City of Ember”) and a bogus shout-out for FEMA, this is the place.

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.” The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips, for example, calls “San Andreas” a “fairly entertaining weapon of mass destruction reminding us that life’s blessings come to those who receive preferential billing.” Cuse and Peyton “respect the essential hypocrisy required by any half-decent disaster movie. 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. Borrowing tropes from such cautionary tales as Jan de Bont’s poetic “Twister” (1997) and Roland Emmerich’s under-rated “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), in which a climate scientist (Dennis Quaid) in D.C. tries to reunite with a son stranded in New York City, “San Andreas” holds no surprises. Thousands may die anonymous painful deaths, but as long as we give a damn-ette about the fates of the central characters, then we can forget about the community at large.” All in all, Phillips admits, “I enjoyed large chunks of ‘San Andreas,’ largely because the actors give it a full load of sincerity, and there’s some bizarrely effective comic relief thanks to Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson as Brits who picked the wrong week to visit the Bay Area.” Chief among them is its aforementioned cast, including Johnson — who appears to have a funny little boy hiding inside that enormous warrior exterior — Gugino, Johnstone-Burt, Parkinson and Daddario, who maintains a cheerful, can-do demeanor, however much the camera brazenly ogles her.

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