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.
The Good Wife (Season 3): following on directly from Season 2, we follow Alicia and her law firm Lockhart/Gardner through another bout of legal battles. I don’t know how they do it but the cases from each episode are unbelievably up to date – superinjunctions / killer computer gamers / internet money / pharmaceutical lawsuits… The central characters and a handful of smaller roles remain consistent and are continually developed, within story arcs that are still both intense and engaging. Season three goes further in exploring and pushing the dynamics between these characters too, and with acting this good, it simply makes for brilliant viewing. New characters and stories are drafted in as late as the penultimate episode, which does leave the finale a bit too open-ended for me, but it’s still a major cliffhanger. Alicia remains superb; Will shines in the first half, but fades out in the second; Diane is dynamite; Carry and Eli get more meaty roles; and even Chris Noth kicks it up to the next level. Although it’s not dominating, there’s an emphasis on silly stories and comedy characters to broaden the show’s appeal in this season: anything involving the kids is usually ridiculous and unnecessary; the tangent featuring cheese & food lobbying is beyond stupid, not to mention unfunny; also, characters like Will’s sisters feel like they’ve been plopped in the wrong show – these elements do nothing but bring down the highbrow tone and detract from the drama – what’s worse is that there’s more than enough entertainment in the established characters played by Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Michael J Fox, and Dylan Baker – to mention a few. As far as quality TV goes, The Good Wife doesn’t have much competition at the moment, and with the exception of a one poorly judged side-story and a few stupid minor characters this show hits more home runs than Barry Bonds. Phenomenally well-written, well-balanced, well-acted, well-directed, funny, dramatic, twisty, unpredictable, confrontation, love, lust, and it’s all believable… I can’t recommend this show enough, but do yourself a favour and start from the very beginning.
Also, a big shout out to the people at The Good Wife fan forum who brought me a load of traffic last year! Cheers.