Sunday, May 31, 2015

Movie Review #265: "San Andreas" (2015)

Movie"San Andreas"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: Brad Peyton
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes
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After an ice shelf large earthquake the size of Rhode Island falls into the Antarctic ocean hits near the Hoover Dam and destroys it, paleoclimatologist Los Angeles Fire Department search and rescue helicopter pilot Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) has a hypothesis that the over saturation of fresh water in the ocean will cause a shift in the north Atlantic current causing erratic weather and possibly a new ice age been called to action. This change happens faster than anyone expected and beings bringing massive storms in the northern hemisphere. When the entire San Andreas fault goes off, an even larger series of earthquake shake the entire state of California. Ray hears his soon to be ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) in danger in LA, so he immediately changes direction to save her. Meanwhile, Jack's Ray's son daughter Sam Blake (Jake Gyllenhaal) (Alexandra Daddario), is competing at an academic competition in New York City who recently left for college, when he is caught in a super storm that brings flooding and eventually a blizzard that will freeze anyone outside in a matter of seconds. is trapped in a parking garage in San Francisco by her mom's current boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd).  Jack Ray and Emma head his team to New York to San Francisco to save his son and those with him and will stop at nothing to save his daughter and those with her and reunite his family.

We swear we just saw this movie, but it was called "The Day After Tomorrow." You can see the similarities in the above synopsis.

When this movie started, we got a little worried. We mentioned in a previous review that most of the CGI from "The Day After Tomorrow" was good then and still holds up now. The opening scene in "San Andreas," though, involves a car getting run off a mountain road and tumbling down the side of a cliff. The CGI in this scene is horrible as the car falls in a very unnatural manner, so we were automatically led to wonder, is all the CGI in this film going to be this bad? Luckily, it wasn't, and those horrible graphics were isolated to that one particular scene. Paul Giamatti plays Lawrence, a seismologist working out of Cal Tech. He and his partner Dr. Kim Park, played by Will Yun Lee, discover a method for predicting earthquakes. Though the warning time is inconsistent throughout the film, anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, it serves as a chance for Lawrence to foreshadow the oncoming destruction and give an ominous monologue before all hell breaks loose and the grounds of California start shaking. Of course, these earthquake scenes are cool visually: freeways, bridges and buildings collapse every which way, things catch on fire in the madness, cars and people get crushed by falling debris, it's everything you would expect from a disaster movie about earthquakes, though we maintain it's almost the exact same destruction you'd find in every other disaster movie ever made. This might be where the movie succeeds, but its success is short lived.

As we all know, simple destruction is not enough for such a disaster movie. There needs to be a hero and an intimate character driven story about love and family to go along with it, which we feel is sort of pointless if they are going to half-ass it. Enter Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who plays Ray Gaines, a former military pilot working for the Los Angeles Fire Department. He is, of course, the best in the business and with his bulging, glistening muscles, is able to do things normal fireman can't, like tear the door of a car clean off to perform a rescue. Johnson is one of the most charismatic people in Hollywood right now, and he can basically do no wrong in our book. He has really won me over with his flashy smile and his willingness to sell his product, regardless of how mediocre that product is. Carla Gugino plays Emma, who despite going through a divorce with Ray, is his love interest. But wait! There's more! What about Emma's current multi-millionaire boyfriend Daniel, played by Ioan Gruffudd, who she is about to move in with and has one of the weirdest names ever?! Don't worry, he is made to be a cliché, self-centered asshole, and his sister, played by superstar singer Kylie Minogue in a random cameo of sorts, is kind of a bitch, so there's no need to worry about them since they probably won't be around for long. Then, there's Ray and Emma's daughter Blake, played Alexandra Daddario, whose main purpose other than showing off her assets is to be the ultimate end goal of Ray and Emma, so the whole family can be reunited and have a happily ever after once again. Blake tries to survive in San Francisco with her brand new, known him for 5 minutes, would-be love interest Ben, played by Hugo Johnstone-Burt, and his little brother Ollie, played by Art Parkinson, who is very funny in a cute little kid kind of way. All this is going on while Ray and Emma navigate the ruins and dumps of California by helicopter, truck, plane AND boat, all of which they miraculously knew how to hot-wire, to get to her. Just like the aforementioned "The Day After Tomorrow," the story has excitement in the beginning and the end, and then a loooong period of lulling right in the middle. Whenever the ground is shaking and buildings are falling, it's fun to watch, but with a humanistic story built around such mass destruction, then inevitably comes the walking around and meandering, as well as pointless, poorly written character development and corniness. This slows things down considerably and made us wonder, once again, why these movies feel the need to be 2 hours long.

Though it is a fun popcorn movie and The Rock is compelling and charming enough to be a leading man, "San Andreas" doesn't further the destruction genre far enough or add anything new to it to be anything other than a west coast remake of any of the other various disaster movies already out there. Though earthquakes are more tangible than the overnight speeding up of global warming or the annihilation of the planet in 2012, as Southern Californians, this did little to get us interested in preparing for "the big one." Plus, it's much more fun to see our precious national monuments like the statue of liberty get covered in ice and floods than see an underwhelming tsunami hit the Golden Gate Bridge.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 48%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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