Saturday, 20 June 2015

Popcorn Night: San Andreas



It is universally known that all earthquakes are terrible, no matter how prepared one is. The horrid thought of man-made civilization perishing away from brutal and uncontrollable forces can send a chill down anyone’s spine as they foreshadow the amount of destruction to be had. And that’s what this latest flick tries to illustrate in all of its Hollywood glory.

What happened:

After a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Hoover Dam in Colorado, earthquake researcher and California Institute of Technology Professor Lawrence Hayes was left traumatized. Just before his eyes, cars were instantly pushed around like Hot Wheels, and the concrete divider which separated the dam’s bodies of water began to crumble as if it were made of drywall. Shocked by the outcome, Hayes promptly flew back to California and furthered his research of seismic activity along the Southern United States, only to be met with horror while being interviewed about the Colorado incident. Just moments after beginning, one student from the lab bolted towards him and interrupted the question period, saying in a hasty manner that a series of massive earthquakes would hit any city or landmark lying on the San Andreas Fault. Hayes rejected the idea at first, but was later told that all monitoring equipment in that region was properly calibrated and therefore free from error. Not believing what he was told, he grabbed the tablet with the collected data from the hands of his student, looking over the bizarre readings and even blinking twice to make sure that he wasn't hallucinating. Residents living near that area were later hit with an earthquake which was catastrophically gigantic, and stood amidst crumbling buildings and screams while forcefully crossing their fingers and hoping for survival. Meanwhile, main character and Los Angeles Fire Department rescue pilot Ray (played by Dwayne Johnson) loses sight of his ex-wife Emma and daughter Blake (both of which are located in San Francisco) and must scour the disheveled city in order to rescue them from peril. However, this proves to be a struggle as the entire city is ensued in chaos, unsure of what to do and where to go next. Matters are only made worse as a series of earthquakes follow, leading to a tsunami and the splitting of California into two parts.

The good and the bad:
While it may not have been the first film centered around forces of nature stirring metropolitan regions in the United States, San Andreas had an amazing story in which a torn family relationship is ironically mended together following one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit America in approximately two hundred years. Johnson was also a perfect fit to play the role as main character given his timid personality and muscular build, therefore making him the perfect silver screen father and firefighter. Even the setting of the movie was excellent as it thickened the story line, showing that no city (popular or not) is ever safe from destruction, and that in the end, nothing materialized can ever have a value which is even remotely comparable to human life.

However, despite the movie’s good story line, there were some scenes in which the computer animations gave an unrealistic feel to the film. For example, when Ray crash-landed his helicopter into the front of a store window after it succumbed to engine failure, the chopper was barely damaged despite the forceful impact which it fell victim to. Another incident similar to this one could be seen near the end of the movie when Ray rides a Ski Doo and has a close encounter with the rotating fins of a large shipping vessel. But instead of severely damaging anything, the shipping vessel simply rips the roof off of the Ski Doo, leaving Ray and Emma completely unscathed despite them being inches away from danger. Although it is understandable that scenes such as this need to be included in the film to make it ripe with suspense and action, the filmmakers still could have improved on the level of drama which was used.

 Summing it up:

San Andreas is a film that won’t disappoint anyone looking for a Hollywood-esque storyline, though it was overly dramatic in some cases. Regardless, it was extremely enjoyable to watch (despite the technical difficulties which interrupted the movie playback at my local cinema,) and won’t disappoint any Dwayne Johnson fan or Hollywood blockbuster aficionado.

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