San Andreas: Dwayne Johnson Rushes to the Rescue

San Andreas: Dwayne Johnson Rushes to the Rescue

The big earthquake of San Andrea or the ‘seismic swarm event’ has both pros and cons. On one hand, the earth quakes along the California fault line, tearing it asunder whereas it also has a positive impact in the sense that it bonds a family together. As it is in the case of these movies, destructive is both selective and universal to some extent. Catastrophes lead to the near obliteration of two major American cities, which lead to deaths on a huge scale. However, nearly half-a-dozen people that we love are struggling to survive amidst the disaster, with reasonably good odds as per the convention of genre and not the law of nature.

These folks are Emma (Carla Gugino) and Ray (Dwayne Johnson), a couple that’s just one signature far from divorce. Emma is about to move in with her super-rich boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffud), who is a real estate developer whereas Ray works for the Los Angeles Fire Department where he flies a rescue helicopter. The contrast between Emma’s current and former male companion can easily be summarized in a typical questionnaire; would you date a guy who can use his bare hands for ripping off the door of a Subaru Forrester or someone who owns a limo and a private jet?

When one of the San Andreas quakes hits and destroys downtown Los Angeles, leaving it a mess of concrete, glass and rebar, and the Hollywood sign is knocked down, Ray and Emma decide to reunite for a common cause; look for their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who on her way back to college, went to San Francisco with Daniel. A couple of years back, the couple had lost another daughter Mallory in a rafting accident, which led to their split. Now, it just makes them more determined to find Blake lest she suffers from the same fate.

Played by Paul Giamatti, a Caltech seismologist is the resident expert in the movie and he succinctly explains why the Big One is going to occur at the Bay Area. The parents are now panicking and have to race against the clock to find their daughter. Meanwhile, Blake has befriend two British brothers (Art Parkinson and Hugo Johnstone-Burt) who fulfill the quotas of romantic-cute interest and sidekick. Regardless, there isn’t much time for wisecracking and canoodling as Carlton Cuse’s script mostly contains dialogue that has many variations of ‘Oh my God’, ‘Get out of the way’, ‘Hurry up’ or ‘Let’s find our daughter’.

The first casualty of the pending disaster is eloquence. Archie Panjabi’s journalist and the seismologist do manage to issue a cogent and clear warning. As far as the movie is concerned, it does deliver its primary message; pay heed to the scientists, firefighters and not to mention their daughters. The ground-level action presents a series of challenges, which are both fun and stressful to watch. Brad Peyton sits in the director’s chair who was also the director of Mr. Johnson’s Journey 2: Mysterious Island. However, huge amounts of money are spent in a movie of this type and it involves images of extensive and disastrous devastation.

Most movies of this type focus their special effect budgets on laying waste to just one city in North America, but San Andreas breaks out of that fold with two or even three, if we count Bakersfield. But, the most disturbing thing about the movie is how routine and dull it all appears. You can produce remarkably detailed visions of disaster with computer-generated imagery, including pulverization of beloved landmarks, collapsing of buildings and bridges, huge ships floating in urban streets and lots more. However, the tech also has the ability of stripping away the spectacles of such interest and impact. Nevertheless, Mr. Johnson, as always, is likable and his modest demeanor and bright smile go against his massive physique. The movie’s problem is that it trivializes the disasters that are occurring left and right in California and simply focus on Ray’s family because we don’t have much in life without love and family.

Also, no one is dying because there we all notice an absence of corpses, not to mention the fact that people have received an ample warning to go elsewhere, which doesn’t mean their graves. Only Hollywood can make catastrophes without unpleasant elements.

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