Tag Archives: the rock

‘San Andreas’ a Rock-Solid Disaster Flick

San_Andreas_posterWell, my California summer vacation plans may have just have taken a hit.

“San Andreas” follows Dwayne Johnson as a rescue-helicopter pilot who must travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco with his ex-wife (Carla Gugino) to save their daughter (Alexandra Daddario) after the San Andreas Fault causes largest earthquake of all-time. Brad Peyton directs.

Contrary to what you may think, it isn’t easy to make a dumb, fun disaster film; Roland Emmerich has been trying and failing for years. But “San Andreas” manages, for the most part, to be an engaging and visually awe-inspiring tale of mayhem and natural destruction, thanks to a charismatic lead and some steady direction.

On paper, “San Andreas” looks like just another Emmerich film, ala “2012” or “The Day After Tomorrow”. You have a huge, unstoppable natural disaster that is going to wipe out important cities, and a father figure must race through the chaos to save his child. However there is one thing this film has that no Emmerich film ever has: a larger-than-life lead actor holding everything together.

Dwayne Johnson is the perfect actor for this role, and the film needed someone charismatic and physically dominating like Johnson at its center, as half the film is him driving, whether it is in a helicopter, truck, or plane (he eventually rides a boat, too, to complete the “Will The Rock Drive Every Type of Vehicle?” game). Of the flaws this film has, certainly none of them are Johnson’s…fault. [drops mic]

[picks up mic in order to continue the review]

From a visual perspective, Peyton and his crew deserve major props. We’ve seen earthquakes tear down towers and tsunamis wash out major cities before, however there was just something about the way “San Andreas” is shot that really makes you feel the magnitude (ha. Puns) of the situation. There was one shot in particular (it’s in the trailer but no less awesome) of Los Angeles literally rolling like a flag on a windy day. It’s a massive shot, but intimate all at once, as if you look at specific parts you see buildings exploding or palm trees falling.

Now as much as I have talked this film up, let’s get one thing straight: this is still a dumb disaster film. The dialogue is cheesy, the plot and characters are cookie-cutter, and some narrative points are lacking. Example of all three:

Dialogue: when Paul Giamatti’s scientist character realizes the quake is about to strike, his colleague asks who they should call. Out loud I said “please don’t say ‘everyone’”. But of course he said it, and all that was missing was him turning to the camera and removing glasses before delivering the line.

Cookie-cutter: there is the resourceful daughter, the reluctantly divorced dad, the jerk new boyfriend; you name it, and the character is in here. And they all live about how long you think they will in a movie like this.

Narrative: both LA and San Francisco are rocked by massive earthquakes simultaneously. Instead of implementing real-world post-earthquake problems like fires, looting, or lack of supplies, the film decides it will double down and announce to the audience (thus erasing even the element of surprise) that an even bigger quake is coming, just so it can showcase more destruction (and it starts to feel like an afterthought by the film’s climax).

For what it is, I really enjoyed “San Andreas”, even as a single tear rolled down my face watching my precious Los Angeles being torn apart—er, I mean, as I got pumped with testosterone watching things blow up. Look, here’s the bottom line: if you are able to overlook the scientific impossibilities of the film (which start early on as the Hoover Dam is destroyed by a 7.1 earthquake despite being built to stand up to an 8.0—just saying), then this film is for you.

It isn’t art and it won’t rock your world (THAT WAS A DWAYNE JOHNSON *AND* EARTHQUAKE PUN!), but if you can overlook its clichés and by-the-numbers storytelling and look at it for what it is, “San Andreas” is solid. Rock solid.

Critics Rating: 6/10



‘Hercules’ Much More Brawn than Brain

Hercules_(2014_film)            Because there truly are no original ideas left in Hollywood, we now have the second film in 2014 about the legendary mythical character of Hercules. The first movie, which few people remember and even fewer liked, was released in January. This second attempt features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the titular role, so it should be awesome right? (That was rhetorical)

Directed by Brett Ratner, “Hercules” follows The Rock as a sword-for-hire, having completed his legendary twelve labours. When a king’s daughter approaches Hercules to save her father’s kingdom, his skills will be put to the test. Ian McShane and John Hurt costar.

Walking into a film directed by Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson in a loincloth and sandals, one shouldn’t have very high expectations. However I still expected more than what this film ends up delivering.

The world of Greek myths and gods is an incredibly immersing one, and has created some amazing stories and movies. And this telling of Hercules takes an interesting twist on the legend, implying that perhaps Hercules really is a mortal man, and his legendary triumphs are just that: legend. But instead of taking these questions somewhere, the film breezes over all of the stories and confirms them as fact or fiction in the first 10 minutes of the film, leaving the rest of the time for you to simply wonder what could come next. No, literally wonder what could be possibly be next; most everything shown in the trailers are part of the opening montage.

Johnson does a solid job as Hercules however he is given surprisingly little to do. He is pretty one-note, just having to play the solider with bulging muscles who yells things during battle. Many of the other performances range from hammy to awkward, especially those of the princess and her son. Both shriek and scream most of their dialogue (in distracting British accents, I might add), and you actually debate rooting for the villains when the two are put in danger. Plus, a lot of the characters have that forced, unfunny Brett Ratner humor, which rivals Michael Bay for the worst in films.

There are two main battle sequences in the film, and both are shot well by Ratner, especially by PG-13 standards, so I must give him props there. There isn’t an overabundance of shaky-cam or slowmo, and there are a few fun camera shots that put you in the action. However in both instances the scenes overstay their welcome, and become redundant and derivative instead of exciting and invigorating.

The special effects are nothing special, the dialogue is at times abysmal and the story flips between rushed and underdeveloped. I went in wanting an over-the-top sword-and-sandal blockbuster and “Hercules” doesn’t delivery even that. The Rock tries his best but it was just too big a Herculean task (pats self on back) to save this drawn out, and awkwardly paced, adventure that we’ve seen many, many times before.

Critics Rating: 4/10