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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 31, 2015

Review: San Andreas - Awesome Special Effects That Look So Realistic

DISASTER FLICKS are nothing new. We’ve had them through the years in “Earthquake” and “Towering Inferno” (both shown in 1974) , “Twister” and “Independence Day” (both 1996), “Deep Impact” (1998), “Day After Tomorrow” (2004) and “2012” (2009). We now have “San Andreas”. We have relatives and friends living in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and they, along with other West Coast inhabitants have taken an indifferent attitude about a predicted monster quake coming soon due to the title-roler San Andreas fault line that runs through the entire state of California.

We doubt if the movie “San Andreas” starring The Rock would scare them and make them move to another state after watching it. And to think this comes right after the very recent killer quakes in Nepal in real life. Though the geological foundations of the film may be true, it is quite exaggerated here as the quake that obliterates Los Angeles and San Francisco is said to be of 9.6 magnitude in the Richter Scale, the strongest tectonic shift in history.

The film is told from the point of view of Ray (The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson), a L.A. Fire and Rescue helicopter pilot who turns hero in the film’s opening sequence which shows him saving a girl whose car falls off a ravine. The quake becomes a personal crisis for him when, after the quake, he first has to rescue his estranged wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), who has found a new and very rich boyfriend (Ioan Gruffud) and, later, their sexy daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario).

He and his wife’s marriage disintegrated after another daughter died before in a tragic accident. The introduction in the narrative of this ingredient about a family that gets separated and is eventually reunited after a series of mind-boggling and spectacular disasters makes the viewer care for the characters. In all fairness to The Rock, he is one action star who can handle both alpha-male action sequences as well as touching emotional situations quite well.

The earthquake actually starts in Nevada, destroying the famous Hoover Dam with 7.1 magnitude, then the temblors spread toward Los Angeles and San Francisco, as accurately predicted by a CalTech seismology expert (Paul Giamatti). Emma is having lunch with the ex-wife (Kylie Minogue) of her boyfriend at a high rise when the quake strikes. Ray rescues her at the rooftop with his chopper while all the skyscrapers all around them are toppling down.

Blake, in turn, is trapped in an underground garage after her mom’s boyfriend deserted her. It’s good a good looking British engineer (Hugo Johnstone Burt) and his young brother (Art Parkinson), who she befriended earlier, decide to search for her and get her out. They succeed in going into the streets and Blake comes up with a plan to meet with her parents who she is sure will rescue her. The film’s climax is set in a crumbling building after a tsunami where Blake is trapped and gets drowned while Ray is trying his best to pluck her out of the water.
Director Brad Peyton and his crew of special effects people come up with superior shots of some very complex but well conceived sequences to make this a memorable popcorn flick. It’s all very persuasive, particularly the destruction of some well known landmarks like the Hollywood sign and the Golden Gate Bridge that looks so realistic you’d think you’re watching actual news footage. In the end, the film concludes on a positive note with the American flag flying high amidst all the destruction and someone proclaiming: “We will rebuild!” Scenes of large scale devastation depicted in the movie can be quite stressful, especially now that we ourselves have just been reminded of our own Marikina fault possibly obliterating Metro-Manila with a 7.5 temblor, so you just have to keep on reminding yourself that this is just a movie and pray hard that this will never ever happen in real life.