Review: San Andreas

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San Andreas is out in theatres this week. I believe this is a thoughtful biography of St. Andrew starring the Rock as St. Andrew and Paul Giamatti as Oengus, king of the Picts… Oh, wait, they went a different direction. More after the break.

San Andreas is pretty much a remake of Twister except instead of tornadoes, there are earthquakes and the Rock is playing Helen Hunt’s role.

Oh, you could unsee it, but why would you want to?
Oh, you could unsee it, but why would you want to?

Now, the Rock is goddamn adorable. The acting overall is quite good but the Rock is really the only reason I’d give this movie three stars out of five instead of two. He’s already signed on to play the DCU’s Black Adam but his onscreen persona is a perfect Superman: powerful, yet charming and only threatening to those who would threaten the innocent. He plays a rescue copter pilot named the Rock. OK, he’s actually named Ray, but he’s playing the Rock, tough, golly-shucks charming, competent, and haunted by a subplot that ruined his marriage and only a major disaster can heal.

Wait, was that Kylie Minogue?

Another case of perfect casting is Ioan “Mr Fantastic” Gruffudd as the combination of the Cary Elwes and Jami Gertz characters from Twister. So, he is both the third wheel who the Rock’s former wife will marry any day now and also the huge jerk who is the opposite of everything the Rock stands for. What made Ioan quite good as Mr Fantastic was his ability to be handsome and charming when his character first appears but the longer you spend with him the more of a colossal jerk you realize he really is. You can totally understand why women would go for him, but, at the same time, you won’t be upset when something really bad happens to him. Minor spoiler: something really bad happens to him and it’s hilariously stupid.

Yup, totally stealing the Rock's wife and getting away it. I'm pretty sure this is going to work!
Yup, totally stealing the Rock’s wife. Nothing can go wrong!

Alexandra Daddario plays the Rock’s daughter, Blake.

No, not that one.
At the center in the brown plastic shirt.

Blake is a fun character. She’s been trained by the Rock to handle disaster situations so, of course, she is the Luke to his Yoda. Actually, part of the problem with this movie is that she’s so competent that you never really feel like she is in much danger. You can’t help thinking that she could have saved herself and the two English lads that she adopts along the way and that might have been a much better movie.

One of the big problems with the movie overall is that the focus is too narrow. There are only a handful of characters and a whole subset of them are completely safe off in a subplot where they split off the scientific angle from Twister and gave it to Paul Giamatti.

Who is somehow also Helen Hunt.
Who is somehow also Helen Hunt.

Giamatti does a perfectly fine job of it, but the entire subplot just eats up screen time that would have been better served by having more, ahem, expendable cast members out there in the cities to be abused by CGI. Instead, we follow the Rock, the wife he has to reunite with, the daughter he has to save, the English guy who is the only one who might actually die, and the English guy’s little brother and no big summer blockbuster is going to kill off an adorable kid. Oh, and Mr Fantastic. So, really, at no point do you feel like these characters are in real danger except for the one that you’re kind of hoping will die. So, you’ve got no sense of dread nor really any kind of emotional connection at all. There aren’t many jokes. The tearjerker scenes really don’t work. It’s just kind of there.

Also weighing down this movie is all the CGI. It’s just too big and too cartoonish. There’s no way to suspend disbelief enough to accept what your eyes are seeing. Whenever something crazy happens, it feels like Wile E. Coyote should be on the receiving end of it. It’s a stark contrast to Fury Road where absolutely bonkers things are happening but they feel real because they are real. There really was a guy in a union suit playing a flaming guitar on a giant truck made of speakers.

So, overall, it’s an inoffensive summer blockbuster that will provide some amusement for you and yours but is just completely forgettable.

Hey, that WAS Kylie Minogue! What a weird, short cameo. Stan Lee gets more to do in most Marvel movies. Is there another 15 minutes of her story in the Australian version?

I’d like to close with a public service announcement. Despite what you’ve seen in movies, natural disasters are not the way to mend a broken relationship. For one thing, they’re very rare and even if you’re “lucky” enough to get caught in one, you will probably be one of the many, many people being squashed in the background rather than the ones realizing important truths that finally allow them to heal and move on. If you feel a rush of adrenaline would help, try bungie jumping or something, but really just talking is probably the best bet.