…just another face in the crowd.

Toasting the Coast

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Sep 27

I just started watching the movie San Andreas.

First off, I have no delusions that this movie will be any good.
I mean, it’s an action/disaster movie starring The Rock.
I’m simply looking for a little mindless entertainment.

BUT I’m 3 minutes in (after like a minute and a half opening credits) and my very first thought is, "Surely it would have been cheaper to push an actual vehicle down a cliff than to have CGI’d it."
I mean, I get that they needed it to come to rest in a specific way, but blowing your budget on the actual fall rather than the stop just seems wasteful.

Then again, it doesn’t look like whoever animated it had ever actually seen a movie where cars go over a cliff so I doubt they paid too much money for it and, therefore, it may have actually been cheaper to do it this way.
The only way it could have possibly looked any worse is if they had done it in miniature.

Now at the 48 minute mark and some of the effects are greatly improved.
Others, not so much.

It’s almost like they spent their CGI budget wisely but then got into editing and realized they were missing a few shots but didn’t have the money to do them properly so they had to go to Bob’s Discount FX Emporium and get what they needed to finish the movie.

As with all disaster movies, your characters have to be in a constant fight for survival while their world crumbles around them.
I understand that and expect it from these kinds of movies but I’m hoping they don’t carry it to the extreme level like the movie 2012 did such that the whole thing just becomes one 90 minute near miss.

SO FAR it has managed to keep the ‘narrow escape cliche’ to an acceptable level.
Unfortunately I’m not quite halfway into the movie (the earthquakes have just started in earnest), so there’s plenty of time for them to let me down.

(**mild spoilers ahead**)

One thing that does trouble me is that the movie starts with the dude and his team as a tight-knit 4-man helicopter rescue operation.
Then disaster strikes in another city (they are unaware of how much worse it’s gonna be) and they’re being sent off to help soon.
So when they’re actually dispatched for their rescue job in the other city, why aren’t the other 3 guys in the helicopter with him?

I realize that story-wise their absence is pretty much necessary in order for him to blow off the millions in trouble to go save his family but still, where did the other 3 guys go?
I can’t imagine them driving to the site 5+ hours away while he brings the helicopter, and he’s already airborne when the sh*t hits the fan.

Maybe I missed a line of dialogue and I need to go back to find out that he was gonna go get the helicopter washed or something before coming back to pick up the rest of his team. [updated below]

Despite my couch’s best efforts to lull me into unconsciousness, I finally finished the movie and I’m ok with it.
Like I said at the start, I’m not expecting a cinematic masterpiece… I’m expecting a disaster movie that entertains me but hopefully won’t make me facepalm too much.

Yeah, the science is dubious and the story pacing is uneven but all told, it was a decent popcorn movie without annoying children or pets tossed into the mix to make certain situations even more difficult, nor was it just one long string of narrow escapes.

(***spoilers ahead***)

So with that in mind, I have these additional points of contention:

1) Helicopter interiors are noisy under the best of conditions and the headphones only help so much. How are you able to have a quiet moment now that the rear door has fallen off?

2) Your other daughter is dead so you’re more protective of the one you have left. I get that.
But why are we bringing the movie to a halt to flashback to her death?
Oh, now I see the payoff… you wanted us to watch the remaining daughter die the same way.
That was a really long way to go for that one.

3) Did you really expect to roam the rubble of San Francisco until you ran across your daughter?
Sure, you’re a rescue jockey and you made a plan during your brief communication with her, but what now?
Granted, I completely saw the laser pointer bit coming from the moment they first showed it, but to have even been in the position to make use of it was like holding a lottery and then only letting the person who won the lottery search for the needle in the haystack.
WAY too much perfect timing and super-vision involved.

4) Ok, so the boyfriend turned out to be the bad guy because I guess we needed one in the story?
Sure, we wanted a nice, tidy ending where the parents get back together but was it necessary to vilify the guy like they did?
He came very close to death and was in shock when he decided not to go back.
This is fine… mom will dump his ass (and she did via voicemail) but that really could have been the last time we saw him.
He could have just been one of the faceless millions in the city who may or may not have survived.
We see him a couple more times in crowds of survivors moving through the streets and it would have been fine if we lost track of him there.
But for some reason we needed a scene where he took someone else’s cover and that person died as a result of it.
Then we get to his final scene where he dies from something that our heroes were able to narrowly avoid.
Mom had already dumped him and he was no longer a factor in the story so I guess I just don’t see why it was necessary to demonize him and then kill him.

Oh, and to follow up, I did go back and see if I had missed a throwaway line about why his team wasn’t with him, and it’s there.
He was taking his helicopter in for maintenance before they got underway since it had been damaged in the opening scene.

But while that sounds reasonable, after that opening scene, he had landed at the airport where they keep the helicopter, the maintenance guy was also at the airport where they keep the helicopter and commented on the damage, and there had been no indication that the helicopter had been moved from the airport where they keep the helicopter during the intervening time.

So why does the helicopter need to be taken to a different location to have its winch fixed when, by all accounts, it should have already been parked in the location where both the parts and the dude to install those parts were?


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