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Hard As The Rock: Hollywood’s Quest for Destruction Rages On In ‘San Andreas’

by on June 4, 2015

You should know whether you will enjoy “San Andreas” from the moment you see even a second of footage.

Do you like watching entire cities being destroyed in dramatic, visually impressive, sometimes cartoonish ways for almost two entire hours? Did you like “2012”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, and “Man of Steel”? Do you like watching The Rock do cool stuff? And do you like boobs? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then this is the movie experience for you. There’s not much else here for you, unless you want to see Paul Giamatti taking part in the weirdest CalTech advertisement you’ll ever see.

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I will say that this movie is more functional and effective than any millionth disaster movie in the last five years deserves to be. It is lean, gets from one action set piece to the next efficiently, and the earthquake truly is the star of the movie. It is everything you want out of a disaster movie. But I couldn’t help thinking as the credits began to roll: Did we really need another one of these?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Because there are going to be a lot more coming down the pipeline.

But is it too much to ask for one of them to be emotionally affecting and have a well-told story? I have yet to see a disaster movie in the last several years that has really connected on a storytelling level. Twelve hours after I saw “San Andreas”, I really could not tell you anything important that happened in it. These movies have basically become giant advertisements for the state of special effects and CGI in Hollywood. Why can’t we have the best of both worlds with great action and story? Until we get that, I have to wonder two things. Is this just the experience people want from the movies? And will they get tired of it?

Personally, I am tired of movies that are entirely about destruction and struggle to provide anything emotionally complex or even memorable. But clearly, not everyone feels this way. So let me remove myself from the equation and look at these two things.

With the rise of 3D and 4DX/fully immersive movie theater experiences, you have to wonder if this is just the beginning of disaster movies on such a grand scale. I have seen at least one critic talk about the experience of “San Andreas” in a 4DX theater being the greatest thing of his young children’s lives. Are we seeing a new way to watch the movies that could make disaster movies more like a trip to Busch Gardens than to the theater? Obviously, this technology hasn’t rolled out everywhere (in fact, it is only in Los Angeles right now), but it’s only a matter of time.

Will this delay the unavoidable kickback of disaster-movie fatigue? You have to think that time is coming sooner rather than later, but making a carnival ride out of the whole experience could surely prolong the inevitable.

With capable movie stars like Dwayne Johnson leading the way, people might come to the theater regardless. Seriously, I couldn’t count the amount of people who have come into my theater and asked for tickets to “The Rock movie.” That says it all.

Maybe one day soon audiences will tire of disaster movies. But that day is not today. And that movie is not “San Andreas”.

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From → Movie Reviews

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