San Andreas: After a massive earthquake hits the Californian coast a rescue-chopper pilot needs to – literally and figuratively – save his family. Finally, The Rock, HAS COME BACK… to California! The opening car crash rescue sets an unfairly poor tone of the film with laughably bad CGI, physics, and silly stunts. The rest of the film however is all about epic (and impressive) biblical-scale devastation: buildings, streets, and entire cities rippling, twisting, and breaking at the mercy of megathrust earthquakes and a megatsunami. Along with this comes Titanic levels of tiny people being dropped, squashed, battered, and maimed at every opportunity: but you’re not supposed to care about the millions – AND MILLIONS – of dead Californian jabronis, or that The Great One shirks his emergency callout to steal (and wreck) a rescue helicopter in order to save his EX(!!)-Wife!! You’re also not supposed to worry about the dodgy ‘quake science, or that for no reason it’s set in a whole bunch of places – Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Hoover Dam, Bakersfield (which is soooo geographically confusing for non-Americans) – yet named after a fictional city from a computer game. The central trio are paper-thin characters with a family dynamic lifted straight outta Taken; and they’re surrounded by a bunch of IT DOESN’T-MATTER-WHAT-YOUR-NAME-IS stereotypes like a token bumbling English gent; slimy cowardly businessman, and the ‘Basil Exposition’ science guy (played so, so intentionally hammy by Paul Giamatti). San Andreas is a blockbuster movie propped up by THE MOST ELECTRIFYING MAN IN MOVIE ENTERTAINMENT, 9/10 CGI effects, and Daddario-oh-ohhh playing a just-old-enough-to-be-sexy daughter for the lads and dads. It’s not a great film by any measure, but it’s undeniably entertaining and impressive, which easily makes it the best Epic Action Disaster Movie (is that a genre?) in recent memory.
Sucker Punch: after being checked into the world’s worst foster home Baby Doll must gyrate for her life, and has some super-crazy dreams to keep her mind off of the job. This is surely the single-biggest attempt to tick every single nerdy niche box: schoolgirls, robots, dragons, ninjas, goblins, WWI, Steampunk, noir, hosiery, vintage undies, pigtails, swords, the future, nazis, girls with guns, manga-influence, lesbian undertones… if geeks like it, it’s in here somewhere! As with previous outings Sucker Punch is very well directed, and a visual orgy-feast. However, this verges into over-direction, and over stylisation, which makes some scenes feel like a music video (with over-emphasised music), and others like a Victoria’s Secret advert (with an over-emphasis of lingerie). The dream sequences in particular look amazing, and are topped off with great fight/action choreography; unfortunately the asylum/caberet aspect gets tedious by the end. Sucker Punch May not be perfect but given the quality of Watchmen and 300 blu rays, I’ll be treating myself to this down the line – despite the pretty bleak colouring. Sucker Punch was a ballsy film to make, but it reasserts that Snyder is to pariah geek culture what Tarantino is to retro-cool.
Faster: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, an insane gun and a fast muscle car are out to avenge his dead brother ten years after a failed heist. Despite everything about this film looking awesome, it’s totally pants. For a stripped down revenge film there’s almost no action and only a handful of kills. Dwayne almost goes full retard, with no expressions and about two pages worth of lines in total. Then there’s the wholly unnecessary assassin side-story that serves absolutely no purpose but to beef the film up – and has no payoff. Billy Bob turns up and does his thing; nobody else leaves a mark. Also, for an R-Rated revenge film with an action star, massive guns and fast cars there’s no boobs… genre fail! The two-minute Red Band trailer honestly has the whole story – and all the best bits. If you can’t tell by now, Faster is a waste of everyone’s time and money, that’s been done about a million times, and far better.