Christian Movie Review
Ever heard of those Chuck Norris jokes? We might as well start the Dwayne Johnson jokes now too. Why? Because in this film that dude has biceps larger than most human skulls, and when he frowns at earthquakes, they stop.
Dwayne Johnson (formerly Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) is the action star in “San Andreas,” and he shows earthquakes and tsunamis who’s boss. Seriously, Johnson is unstoppable in this film. (He actually did a very good job in his role. I was very impressed). In fact, let’s replace Chuck Norris with Dwayne Johnson right now (though I’ll have to use the wrong DOB for Johnson to make it work; so yes, I know Johnson wasn’t born in this year — just humor me):
“Dwayne Johnson was born May 6, 1945. The Nazis surrendered May 7, 1945. Coincidence? I think not.”
LOL! (Right? Right?…)
Alright, that didn’t work, sorry. Enough fooling around. On to the review.
The trailer for “San Andreas” doesn’t do it justice. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but — minus the language (what can I say, I’m with Captain America on the whole swearing issue) — I really liked this movie. The film is a much better experience than I expected for a straightforward disaster movie.
And that was part of its charm, frankly. Very simple. No elaborate “Inception” twists or 20 Infinity Stones to keep track of. No aliens responsible for the disaster. No crazy monsters or superheroes. Just a good old-fashioned planet-splitting earthquake and the traditional Hollywood practice of adding a little fiction and implausibility into the science.
More on why this earthquake disaster movie won me over in a moment, but first…
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance for this PG-13 rated film…
Sexual Content/Nudity/Themes of Sexuality and Romance: A man and a woman kiss. Nothing else to report.
Violence/Gore: It’s PG-13, so there’s nothing graphically gory on an R-rated level, but — and that’s a sizable BUT — people are seen dying on-camera — crushed usually, drowned (complete with on-camera convulsions as they suck water into their lungs), or falling to their deaths with blood-curdling screams. Definitely not for kids. Please keep children under 13 at home.
Language: One f-word. Scores of s-words and many uses of “God” with the d-word.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: Women drink wine over lunch.
Frightening/Emotionally Intense Content: There’s nothing really frightening or intense in this movie about the most terrifying natural disaster in modern history except for the part of the film between the beginning and the end.
(Review continues below)
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
In this day and age of CGI wonderment, it’s not often that my jaw involuntarily drops — as in my mouth actually falls open.
That happened in this film. It was during the tsunami scene. I still kind of gasp inwardly when I replay it in my head.
The visuals. Oh man. Wow.
It might be, partly, that all of the shots were filmed in my home state, in places I know well. It’s one thing to watch a disaster movie take place in a location you don’t know, far away in another state or country. It’s another thing to watch an epic, full-budget disaster movie take place in your backyard; and I mean “backyard” literally: in one scene Dwayne Johnson quite literally flies his helicopter over fields near the town where I grew up in the Central Valley, California.
And I got to hand it to Dwayne Johnson. He did some nice acting in this film. I don’t usually expect too much from action stars, but Johnson had one particular scene, in which he finally discusses a sensitive, painful topic with a loved one, that was convincing and moving.
And the other cast members added unusual warmth and depth that you usually don’t see in tent-pole disaster movies: Paul Giamatti, Alexandra Daddario, Carla Gugino, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, and Archie Panjabi all carried the movie with endearing believability, even during some of the campy moments of dialogue or surreal implausibility.
(However, two of those actors were British. That’s not a bad thing, believe me, I love England dearly. But the Brits are popping up everywhere in movies these days. I feel bad for American actors. It really is the truth: British actors are invading Hollywood and making it even tougher for hard-working American actors to get offers.)
Worldviews, Subtext, Symbolism, Themes of Redemption, Social Commentary, Etc.
Really not much to report here. The main scientist Paul Giamatti’s character looks into the camera and says “God be with you.” In another scene, a group of people have formed a circle, and they’re holding hands and praying. Dwayne Johnson’s character says to someone else to pray for his daughter. It’s sort of one of those films where if you got to know some of the characters in real life you wouldn’t be surprised to find out they were Christians (well, despite all the language, which Captain America would not approve of). I certainly didn’t detect any hostility toward religion or Christians. The film tries hard to just keep things simple. It’s too busy breaking things to inject too much subtext or to frame things with obvious worldviews.
I would say, however, that it is a notably pro-family movie. Beneath all the shifting tectonic plates, it’s about a husband and a wife who are on the verge of their own personal disaster: divorce. The way the story plays out portrays the priceless value of family and how miraculous (and hard) it is to have a healthy relationship between a husband and wife in this tumultuous age of broken families. A healthy marriage — especially when the couple has a relationship/family history like the one portrayed in the film — is about as easy as two people surviving a 9.5 earthquake.
Like one of the critics said about this movie: “It’s a feel good disaster movie” — if such a thing exists. But that’s what this movie is, and that’s one of the reasons I loved it so much.
My rating for “San Andreas”: [usr 6]
Note about my ratings:
1 star = one of the worst movies ever made (the stuff of bad movie legends), and it usually (not always) has below 10% on Rotten Tomatoes
2-3 stars = a mostly bad movie that has a handful of nice moments; it usually falls between (but not always) 10-30% on Rotten Tomatoes
4-6 stars = a decent movie with some flaws, overall. Four stars mean its flaws slightly outweigh the good. Five stars mean equal good, equal bad. Six stars mean it’s a fairly good movie, with some great moments even, that outweigh a few flaws. A 4-6 star rating usually means it falls between 30-59% on Rotten Tomatoes (but not always).
7-9 stars = a rare rating reserved only for the best movies of that year; and a film must have a Fresh Tomato rating (60% or higher) on Rotten Tomatoes to be given 7 stars or higher.
10 stars = one of the best films of all time, right up there with the all-time greats (i.e. Casablanca, The African Queen, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode IV, Indiana Jones, etc.).
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