Frisco Del Rosario (frdelrosario) wrote,
Frisco Del Rosario
frdelrosario

"San Andreas" bad as "Green Lantern" for no imagination, while making extraordinary seem predictable

"San Andreas", the new disaster movie starring Dwayne Johnson, is as bad as "Green Lantern", and for much the same reason.

"Green Lantern" had the capability to be among the best comic book movies, but it turned out as one of the worst. Its potential was in Green Lantern's power ring, arguably the most powerful gizmo in the galaxy — in the comic books, the power ring was limited by cheap four-color printing, but in the movies?! A Green Lantern movie is bound only by the writer's and director's imaginations, and they blew it. I can't remember a single wow moment in "Green Lantern".

"San Andreas" imagines the biggest natural catastrophe in history, a chain of earthquakes that begins in Nevada and follows the fault line toward San Francisco. CalTech geologist Paul Giamatti said the 1960 Valdivia quake had the destructive power of 10 nukes, so to unleash something that big on my old office building?! A movie with unbelievable capacity for ruinous special effects should be astounding, but "San Andreas" couldn't rise above stupid and predictable.

There's 30 minutes of backstory that could've been left out of "San Andreas". I'll spoil it here, but maybe you'll agree that if this crap weren't there to spoil, it would've been a better movie for 30 more minutes of earthquake chaos. Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino are a signature away from divorced. She and their daughter are moving in with real estate mogul Ioan Gruffudd, who's building the tallest office complex in San Francisco. They lost a daughter in a boating accident, which still haunts rescue chief Johnson.

All of that is unnecessary. They could've written the Johnson-Gugino-Alexandra Daddario family as whole and happy and together. Wouldn't change a thing about the drama that unfolds when a tsunami roars down California Street.

They stretched the movie across two states to give a reason for a film crew to be at CalTech with professor Giamatti, but they could've whacked the exposition, too — the audience doesn't have to be acquainted with the science of earthquake prediction for a movie about an earthquake to be effective. It's almost like they borrowed that from "Titanic", too. While San Francisco blows up, some of the extras die in bits stolen straight from "Titanic". The explanation of how the boat split and sank was fascinating in "Titanic", but "San Andreas" needed nothing of the kind. Earthquakes happen, on with the show.

The studio screwed "San Andreas" by green-lighting that shitty story by Andre Fabrizio, whose previous writing credit was the 4.1-rated "Vice", and hiring director Brad Peyton, who's done nothing I've ever seen — not even "Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" — even the Bond-ripoff title says crap, but this is the guy they wanted to tell the story of the AT&T Park crumbling into McCovey Cove. Think of the sight gags this doofus missed: While the baseball stadium is falling into the cove, some of those kayaking nitwits would be grasping for souvenirs washing past. Wouldn't you *want* to see something happen to some texting dumbass?

They painted themselves into a storytelling corner by setting the Valdivia quake as a benchmark, so to demonstrate the magnitude of the event, they showed destruction from Hoover Dam to Nob Hill. But if they'd compressed the events in the five-mile radius that covers Alcatraz Island and the Transamerica Pyramid, nothing would've been lost in the big picture, while details like, say, a flying cable car or the implosion of the Transbay Tube could've been included. (Hitchcock buffs would've died at noticing the Montgomery Street apartment complex from "Dark Passage" or the cable car turnaround from "The Birds"; such details would've taken zero additional screen time.)

There was no sense of claustrophobia in "San Andreas", not even during the parking garage scenes. I bet if you've been on a BART ride through the Transbay Tube, you were more frightened by the previous paragraph than by anything you'd see in "San Andreas".
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