19 July 2015

What A Disaster!

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People often describe big Hollywood blockbusters as being like a roller-coaster ride and this is certainly true of San Andreas. Although as anybody whose actually been to a theme-park will know, what this really means is a lot of waiting around followed by about five seconds of fun and then a headache. I honestly don't think I could summarise The Rock's new disaster movie in a more efficient way than that to be honest... Oh wait, yes I could- 'It's a load of shit'. To sum up the plot, I'd say that The Rock plays a helicopter rescue pilot during the worlds worst ever earthquake. Although he does also seem to know how to pilot planes, boats, and hot-wire cars too as though he's jacked into the fucking Matrix. As a result, he actually spends most of the movie sat on his arse and so it's not difficult to see he might fancy a break and take this role on. It's essentially his holiday before he has to go back to work and do some real action. I don't know what's more unbelievable... that you'd hire The Rock and then not utilise the Thor-like power of his body or the fact that a helicopter can get off the fucking ground with him inside it! 

Anyway, this being a disaster movie, The Rock obviously spends most of his time tracking down his various loved ones in order to re-solidify his position as the head of his currently fractured family. You know, just like in every disaster movie ever!! I guess it's always like that in these films as thousands of deaths go ignored in order to focus on one small group of un-developed dullards. In fact, I think these are the two biggest problems with San Andreas in that it's clich├ęd to the tits and the characters are thinner than Danny Dyers chances of passing an IQ Test. If you've seen any disaster movie then you've seen this one too as it brings so little to the table that you could recreate the entire experience by simply watching the trailer and then staring at a wall for two hours. Everything that's mentioned in the first fifteen minutes will predictably be brought into play in the last fifteen minutes, and your survival will depend entirely on your own morality. Do you think it was coincidence that we got a lingering shot of a kid picking up a laser pen at the start or do you think that'll come into play? Do you think selfishness will be rewarded with survival? Ioan Gruffudd is essentially set up as The Rock's love rival, and I wonder which one will get the happy ending! And don't forget that despite the widespread devastation, so long as The Rock regains his family then that will be a happy ending. 

I won't ruin the actual ending for you obviously as I'll allow you to work that out about four seconds into the start of the movie, but the very last shot is of an American flag blowing patriotically in the wind which, as a Brit, made me want to fucking vomit onto my own crotch. Not because I have anything against America, but to just show something like that in such an obliviously un-cynical way goes against every fibre in my body. I know the yanks are indoctrinated at school by pledging allegiance to theirs, but over here, flying a flag means that you're either an idiot or a racist. Either way I'm crossing over the street to avoid you. In this film we see boats literally sailing vertically up huge waves like space rockets blasting off into orbit, but the way the flag at the end is presented, its as though I'm meant to have a single tear rolling down my face. I didn't.. I just rolled my eyes and groaned like a man who's taking a slightly stressful dump. This lack of cynicism however is another problem for the film as it plays off its ridiculous scenarios without any sense of fun. It has the kind of stunts going on that suggest Evil Knievel has been reincarnated as a fucking helicopter and yet everybody plays it completely straight.  

With its constant shots of giant waves and collapsing buildings, we're getting nothing here that hasn't been seen in any one of Roland Emmerich's films so you'd think they'd at least attempt to do something even remotely entertaining with it. You can't just rely on awe when your entire movie is derivative of Emmerich's stuff, whose entire style is derivative of Spielberg's as it is. I mean, if all we're getting is buildings falling over then I could re-watch the 2014 re-do of Godzilla. You're literally getting the exact same spectacle but at least they had the good grace to also throw in a chubby Japanese fire-dragon for shits and giggles. Of course this movie has its own giant monster in the form of The Rock but he's honestly more wasted here than Mel Gibson at an open bar before a Bar Mitzvah. Now, I am a fully paid up fan of The Rock, and I think his knowing sense of the ridiculous is what makes The Fast And Furious franchise the lobotomised slice of genius that it is, however if there's two things that The Rock can do it's be charming and charismatic, but also quite believably punch a person through the fucking moon. Here, he sadly does neither.  

The problem is that The Rock can't not do action films because he's clearly built like a brick shit-house and so won't exactly be popping up in any Jayne Eyre period dramas any time soon. The only way he could play a believable everyman is if it was after he'd been hit by gamma rays and gotten pissed off. However the reason that the human behemoth is so successful is because he essentially satirises his own beef-cake image. That's why he's so good in Fast And Furious as he plays a character that knows what he is and so knowingly goes completely over the top with it. I'm fine with the stupid helicopter stunts in this but I don't believe them one little bit. The only way you can get away with such bullshit is to either do them for real, which the obvious CG suggests they didn't, or at least cut back to The Rock delivering an intentionally shit one liner, which they don't. As it is though, you could recast his role with somebody a third of his size and not only would it require zero character changes but it'd probably make more sense. Particularly when all he does is move from one vehicle seat to the next like he's auditioning as host for the next series of Top Gear. Do I feel any sense of suspense when a building looks like it's about to crush him halfway through the movie? No! Firstly, he's not going to die when there's still another hour to go, and even if he couldn't dodge out of the way, he could probably just hold the thing up like King fucking Louis. 

So yeah, this obviously brings us back to the card-board characters in a predictable film. Nobody has any depth beyond their own basic description, so you've got the Rescue man, the Mum, the twatty boyfriend, daddy's daughter, the Hugh Grant-esque English People, and Paul Giamatti. I kind of feel sorry for Carla Gugino as she seems to be putting the effort in as though she doesn't know the film is crap... but sod it, I guess she got paid. Giamatti on the other hand seems more than aware that he's only there to spoon feed us exposition and so I hope he settles into his nice new house or whatever he wanted the money for. He plays an earthquake expert and so the way it works is that he tells us what's going to happen next, dives under a table, and then it happens. Thank God for him predicting events about nine seconds before they happen or I'd be lost in the labyrinthian plot of San Andreas. About ten minutes before the end, I was thinking that the only things that we've not seen yet is an old couple die and a dog that manages to out run a disaster. Then a tsunami came and washed away two pensioners as though God was trying to recreate his great flood but on an off day. Still, there was no shots of heroic dogs though, so that's something at least. The movie's one claim to originality is that it's a disaster movie that features no dogs whatsoever. Now there's a boast for the posters! 

Anyway, so that's about it really. I mean, the film isn't completely without merit - if you like seeing buildings fall over with all the believability of a PlayStation 4 cutscene then you'll enjoy it. I managed to get through the two hours by trying to guess which characters the next scene would cut to, so there's always fun to be had. In case you wondered, I had a nintey-seven percent success rate with that, so that was enjoyable. Maybe you could make your own games up to help endure it and let me know what they were in case I ever sit through it again. Failing that you can always just enjoy The Rocks face and reminisce about all the better movies you've seen him in. In fact, I think perhaps the tensest scene in the whole film was when he jumped out of a plane with a parachute and I worried it might not open. Not that I was concerned about him of course, but simply that there was one other rock of his size that fell from the sky and that annihilated the fucking dinosaurs. So yeah, I didn't hate this film, it's just that there's no way it can be argued that it wasn't total shit. Anyway, thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time. 


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