Scott Says There Are No Faults in the Seat Shaking SAN ANDREAS

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FILM REVIEW: SAN ANDREAS

BY SCOTT PETERSON

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It’s that time again. Summer just wouldn’t feel like Summer if we didn’t have a “disaster” flick hitting theaters in which Mother Nature unleashes her fury on us all. It doesn’t matter if it’s an asteroid about to wipe out Earth, a tsunami, an earthquake, throw in a tornado or two, we all want to be witnesses to the carnage and destruction. We all want to rubberneck the train wreck devastation. Director Roland Emmerich started it all back in 1996 with the hugely successful and immensely entertaining Independence Day. Since then,he has released The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Godzilla and a host of other directors have released films trying to replicate Emmerich’s success. Aside from Independence Day, all of these other so called Summer blockbusters focusing on doomsday devastation were mediocre carbon copies of each other. How many times have we seen global and national landmarks being wiped out? How many times have we seen everyone turn their back on that insane scientist/professor who always runs into the room shuffling papers that predict the Earth’s demise? We’ve seen that computer generated tidal wave take out city after city over and over again. Poseidon? Check. Deep Impact? Check. The Day After Tomorrow? Check. 2012? You get the picture.  So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly banging my fists on the table with excitement when it came time to take my seat for San Andreas. This my friends is why we go to the movies.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, San Andreas does have that crazy professor (Paul Giamatti), the earthquakes, the destruction of national landmarks, and that computer generated tidal wave we all love so much,and no, the screenplay wasn’t exactly written by Aaron Sorkin. The difference between all those aforementioned films and San Andreas is the massive scale and sheer spectacle. San Andreas director Brad Peyton has made a movie that will make Roland Emmerich blush. This is the disaster movie to end all disaster movies. There is no lull, no long explanatory pausations for dialogue. This movie hits you with a relentless 120 minutes, a pure wrecking ball of annihilation. So far this summer, I’d put San Andreas right up there with The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Furious 7 when it comes to getting bang for your buck (Sorry, nothing this year will be better than Mad Max: Fury Road).

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The plot for San Andreas is pretty humdrum, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as Ray Gaines, a helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles Fire and Rescue Department. Gaines has over 600 rescues and in the opening scene we get to see one of them (who should be the new poster child for texting and driving) plunges off a mountain while texting her boyfriend. In real life, that girl would be dead instantly in a far less accident, but it’s the Summer movie season of 2015, so apparently catapulting 500 feet down a canyon and having your car suspended to the side of a mountain is certainly plausible. That opening scene sets the tone as we see the never say die resolve Gaines brings to his profession. Meanwhile, Gaines’s separated and  soon to be ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) and his college bound daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) are living with an ultra-rich real estate tycoon Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd). Daniel heads off to San Francisco to the supervise construction of one of his skyscrapers and brings along Blake who as fate would have it, is going to be going to school in San Francisco. Sure enough, the San Andreas Fault erupts and the state of California crumbles with San Fran getting hit with the worst of it. Who better to rescue your kid than a well decorated helicopter pilot? Gaines must get across the destroyed state of California before the big one ultimately hits his daughter in San Francisco.

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That’s really all there is to it. San Andreas is the perfect Saturday matinee film designed to get you out of that summer heat and get your blood flowing. It also looks spectacular in 3D. I have been to San Francisco a few times and although it’s one of my favorite places to visit, I don’t know if I can ever fully enjoy a vacation there again. After seeing the eradication of the Golden Gate Bridge, I think I’ll stay over here on the East Coast.

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Final Word: StarStarStarHalf Star