Walking into the cinema...
The Rock in a disaster film about falling and shifting rocks. Ironic? Get ready to turn off the brain, watch cities be destroyed, have fun and even have a good laugh.
Cinematic rating: 2.5 stars
Reel Dialogue Rating: 2 stars
Do we need another disaster film? When it comes to escapism, there is nothing like a good disaster film and it seems to be something that audiences want to see. Logic and physics need not apply. Script writers take a back seat to the CGI experts. In the case of San Andreas, it provides us something two new things: not earthquakes, not tsunamis, nor the typical well-timed American flag unfurling. The first new item, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) saving the world or at least portions of California. For those unaware, there is a huge fault caused by tectonic plates along the West Coast of the United States. These plates have been the cause of actual earthquakes throughout history and provided story line for film and television. This fault line takes centre stage and is allowed to wreak havoc through many of California's cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and even, Bakersfield. Even though San Andreas is a multi-regional disaster, the real story is of a man striving to save his family. Ray's (Johnson) family has been torn apart by tragedy and divorce, but beyond the personal dramas he has to save them from these impending earthquakes. It may not be an original storyline, but the script most likely is not what audiences will be going to experience. The reasons many may choose to go to the cinema is to watch the ground-breaking special effects that come from this genre and maybe even have a bit of a laugh.
Did San Andreas provide this desired special effects smorgasbord? To a degree, but it was not in the way that was expected. The weaknesses in the story present themselves in the form of unexplained buildings in two world class cities that contained minimal occupants, vehicles with unlimited fuel consumption and the ‘needle in a hay stack’ search and rescue process. While the strengths of San Andreas can be found in the breathtaking sound engineering. This may seem to be a minor notation, but the sound engineering made this an all encompassing and primal experience. Interestingly, it was the sound design that helps by adding an emotional component to the story. It allows the audience to feel the impact of the earthquakes and action on a new level. On reflection of the two new components, The Rock and sound design, there was nothing fresh about the script, the acting, or the visual experience. Yet, even with it's shortcomings, director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) paces the film at a level that helps to overcome the unbelievable nature of the fictional tale. Also, the inclusion of the family drama cast against the backdrop of a disaster helped provide the film with the needed soul and a reason to care for the characters. Overall, the expectations were for this to be silly and unbelievable, but ultimately it turned out to be fun escapism.
Within the escapism, the questions get back to the primal considerations of the human experience: survival, salvation, the end of the world and the bond of family. In a year of disaster and dystopian films, it is easy to consider the end of the world, but San Andreas goes a step further and provides a glimpse into our need for others and especially family. In an unbelievable manner, this story shows the lengths people will go to provide care and safety for their family. This small familial nugget provides the gem amongst the falling rocks of California.
Leaving the cinema...
Disaster films rank at the bottom of the list of my preferred genres. Why? Each film has to find different and bigger ways to destroy the world and in the end provides the same result. When it comes to San Andreas, it does not break new ground, but even though it was ridiculous, it was fun and provided an enjoyable cinematic escape.
Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?
1. What does the future hold? (The book of Revelation, James 4:13-16)
2. Can we solve our own problems? (Proverbs 3:5, Philippians 4:6)
3. Why do we need a saviour? (Romans 3:10-18, Romans 6:23)
Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #sanandreas