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Thursday, July 2, 2015

San Andreas

Two hours of senseless destruction, groan-worthy dialogue and enough cliches to fill the Hoover Dam? Yes, please!

This is a bit late so I'm going to make this quick. San Andreas is total, total nonsense from beginning to end, that assumes that scenes of massive destruction, Alexandra Daddario in a low-cut top and the Rock doing his usual thing would be enough to prevent people from noticing just how rubbish it is. Here's the thing though: it kind of is.

No matter what else you might say about it, San Andreas is a film that knows exactly what it is and holds no pretensions to be anything else. It's an old fashioned, thrilling disaster movie with an extremely straightforward story - earthquake beats the crap out of California, family is caught in the middle - and likable lead characters that features just about everything else that you might expect in this sort of thing: kooky scientists that no one listens to being proven horribly right; horrible step dads getting their come comeuppance and, of course, thousands of people dying and billions of dollars in property damages but as long as our half dozen protagonists get out OK, who cares? Throw in plenty of largely very impressive CGI (a sense of fakeness sets in occasionally - but only occasionally), laughably crap one-liners and nice dollops of romance and family bonding and you have a really rather good example of a trashy disaster movie.

Dwayne Johnson once again proves himself to be one of the most charismatic action heroes on the planet and we get nice support from Carla Gugino and an obviously-slumming-it-but-still-fun Paul Giamatti, but in terms of the film's "human element" it's really all about Alexandra Daddario. She may start the film lounging about in a bikini (prurient and gratuitous, sure, but it's not exactly, um, hard to see why director Brad Peyton did it) and when the shit - and the ship - goes down, she does start off as a damsel in distress for her dorky, British soon-to-be-love-interest and his chirpy brother to rescue, but for the vast majority of the film she's shown to be a very smart and very resourceful young woman who easily matches her on-screen father - The Rock, as you may have guessed, as a rescue-chopper pilot - in both screen time and general heroicness.

But, really, that bit of relative feminism and more advanced CGI aside, San Andreas is really quite old fashioned in its approach. It's to its credit then that it uses this familiarity to its advantage and feels comfortably enjoyable, rather than stale and derivative. As I said, it is total nonsense but there really is something to be said for making total nonsense that is this funny, thrilling, likable and flat out fun. "Objectively", I can't really give the film more than those six stars but for sheer enjoyment, feel free to add a bunch more stars - I won't tell.

Oh and, yes, this should definitely be seen in a nice cinema to get the full effect but you really needn't bother with the 3D. It may be exactly the sort of film that's made for 3D but it makes very little use of it.


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