Friday, January 8, 2016

San Andreas A Real Disaster

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is literally on shaky ground in this forgettable disaster tryst


ARTH VADER (AV): In loving memory of all the great disaster flicks like Twister, Towering Inferno, Tidal Wave, Dante’s Peak, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and Armageddon, San Andreas is the doomsday-eque tale of “the big one.” The supposed impending mega-quake along the San Andreas Fault line that will decidedly re-shape the west coast as parts of California are believed to likely fall into the Pacific. These films are fun, fruity fiction that play on our fears while trying to move us to tears. Thoughts, oh Pontificatorious one? 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): There is a formula for films like this and the producers of this film stuck to it. Now, doing so doesn’t make this a great film, but it certainly made it a predictable one. If continuity were following a specific way formula for a hero/disaster film, then this film stuck to that…to the letter.


AV: Paul “The Rhino” Giamatti plays a decidedly intelligent role of a geologist who has the unfortunate burden of knowing what’s about to happen and in turn loose his partner (along with about 30 million Californians) for his troubles. The lovely and talented Carla Gugino all but wastes her time in this film. Even Ioan “No-longer Mr Fantastic” Gruffudd plays an unlikely super-industrialist for no reason whatsoever. Director Brad Peyton’s epic cinematography is misplaced in such an Epic flop and well, I won’t even mention the ‘acting.’

TP: Make no mistake this is a film about “The Rock” (Dwayne Johnson) and he does exactly what I expected of him…bigger than life with plenty of flexing. That said, the supporting cast does well, given the material. Carla Gugino (last seen by me in “Wayward Pines”) is the estranged ex-wife. Ioan Gruffudd (last seen by me in “Forever”) is the new boyfriend with loads of cash, but very little courage. Paul Giamatti, my favorite of the supporting cast, is the scientist that has important information, that nobody else knows. Although there was a lot of unused talent here, the direction of the film was more predictable than knowing submerging yourself in water will make you wet.


AV: Nothing says big-budget summer blockbuster than a massive visual effects budget on film devoid of story, value or merit. The ridiculous Tsunami, vast scope of giant cities buckling under massive aftershocks. On-screen, the visuals keep the audience from dozing or walking out wouldn’t you say old friend? 

TP: With a film this predictable, effects is really all there is to it. While the effects were great, there really was nothing new presented here to make up for the lack of everything else. Wanton destruction has been done before, the trick is to do it better than anyone else ever has…and this film missed that mark. 


AV: Its hard to consider a film like this anything other than eye-candy. Characters appear and disappear without any reason or explanation. We’re given little-to-no opportunity for character motivations (other than survival) and improbable scenarios arise that we simply take at face value (like how its ok to steal or randomly ‘borrow’ any boat plane or truck you need to get around during a giant Earthquake). 

Look in all fairness, movies like this don’t deserve our individual or collective brain power, but that doesn’t mean bad movies get a pass for spending $150 million dollars. C’mon Hollywood, you’re better than that. 

TP: If you are a huge fan of The Rock like I am, then you will give this film a pass regardless of all it’s shortcomings…the greatest of which is the fact you can tell exactly what is going to happen before it happens…in every…single…scene. I said earlier there is a formula for films like this. Great hero/disaster films tend to deviate from this formula in some way to give some surprise to the audience. The makers of this film didn’t even bother with that. As a result, I sat there like a precog for the entire film with the only high point being my fandom for The Rock, and all the cheesiness with which they presented his character.


AV: The big travesty is that more big budget, brainless boob movies like this are sure to follow. No one asks for them, no one wants them, but we keep going so they keep getting made. (sigh)

TP: Nope…don’t even bother because I will predict that one too. It will go like this: The Rock goes to another area, an earthquake (or other natural disaster) happens, he saves his family (or whatever supporting characters are presented) with all the non-surprises and cliche of this film, the end.


ARTH VADER rates San Andreas: The saving grace of this film is in its cornball cheesiness and the sheer ridiculousness of the screenplay and the film’s overall premise. But if you are so inclined, buy some popcorn at your local dollar store, nuke up a bowl or two, rent or stream San Andreas and get ready to get ready for well, not very much. That’s why I’m digging deep into my well of generosity and offer two (2)  Busted Blocks out of ten on the Busted Block scale. One for the visuals and the other as bribe to promise these producers never to make this kind of schlock ever again. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates San Andreas:  The only thing that even remotely gives this film a decent rating (such as it is) is the fact I’m one of the biggest Dwayne Johnson fans on the planet and a sucker for gratuitous destruction. Other than that, the predictability of this film makes it just a giant two hour cliche barely able to destroy five (5) busted blocks.

San Andreas: 3.5 / 10 Busted Blocks

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