San Andreas

I'm still wondering if it's possible to wedge a 6'4" person into a normal helicopter, but they make it look possible, at least, since movies are good at that. Dwayne Johnson, aka Hercules, gets to be the hero again, this time an airborne one, though this is a bit like a Bond movie in that the main characters get to try out all sorts of different forms of transportation, some of them stolen, though to be fair, they are right in the middle of a disaster by the time the legal aspects start getting a bit hazy.

Anyway, Dwayne is Ray, who's just been served with divorce papers by wife Emma (Carla Gugino, Sucker Punch), while making plans to help get daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario of the Percy Jackson movie series) to college. In a subplot straight from Taken, Emma has moved on with boyfriend Riddick. No, not that Riddick. This is Daniel Riddick, billionaire real-estate guy, played by Ioan Gruffudd of Sanctum.

Meanwhile, Paul Giamatti (, but we'll try to forget that) is Lawrence, a professor teaching seismology at Caltech. With the help of Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee, Red Dawn), he thinks he's found a way to predict earthquakes. That's the good news. The bad news is that his new detection system is already overloading because it's predicting an imminent super-quake along the entire San Andreas fault.

That's a larger fault than you might realize; it's 1300 km (808 miles) long, reaching south of LA and well north of San Francisco. Also, while people living in California are certainly a lot more used to earthquakes than I am (I've never felt one, and I'm pretty okay with missing out on that experience) and build everything to be earthquake resistant, there's no such thing as earthquake proof. Anything will fall over if you shake it hard enough, plus there's the added problem of tsunamis to help things fall over even faster. This particular fault isn't likely to produce tsunamis because it's almost entirely a landlocked fault, but, well, Hollywood.

Oh, plot. After Blake gets trapped in a car in a crumbling parking garage (an incredibly bad place to be in a quake) and left to fend for herself, brothers Ben and Ollie (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson of Dracula Untold, respectively) come to the rescue and the three join forces to survive the chaos while Ray and Emma search for Blake. That's pretty much all, but it works out fairly well somehow. It falls victim to some of the usual disaster movie cliches, of course, but it's also got some good moments and the two female leads, while both starting out as damsels in distress to a certain extent, quickly turn things around and each get to save the day a time or two themselves.

So I'll go three and a half out of five. I suspect the science was bad in places, but one online geophysics class does not an expert make -- and I'm also pretty sure helicopters just can't do some of the things they do here -- but as with Pacific Rim, you don't really care about that while you're watching. So go enjoy this movie, because I'm not sure there's going to be anything new worth watching this coming weekend.

The title character, the fault itself.


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