I went to this one with open views, having seen it get some fairly poor reviews, that said I came out of the cinema thinking some of the reviews were perhaps a bit harsh. Brad Peyton’s movie is quite entertaining and almost immediately manages to stand on its own without the 1974 classic earthquake (Mark Robson) looming over it. Like the “original” there are two central strands, the scientists and the hero. The film opens with the scientists in Cal Tech led by “Lawrence” (Paul Giamatti, sideways, 2004)discovering they may be able to predict earthquakes, events quickly over take them and as the movie progresses the team at Cal tech essentially becomes something of a conscience for the movie as well as the vehicle for explaining what is coming and what effect it will have, this sounds rather mundane but Giamatti and Co. deliver a good support plot.
The movie proper starts of by giving us a background of the hero, chief pilot Ray, who works with the LAFD and is separated from his wife and daughter – we learn later the reason for the separation, something which might just be reversible. We meet his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino, Watchmen, 2009), daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, 2013) and emma’s new beau, the billionaire property developer, Daniel Riddick, (Ioan Gruffud, The Fantastic 4, 2005) who happens to be building the biggest and strongest high-rise in San Francisco. This extended family gathering ofcourse causes the usual tensions which play to the plot.
So the family safely in LA, now has daughter Blake and step dad off to San Francisco , while Emma stays in LA to have lunch with Richard’s ice-cold sister; Susan (Kylie Minogue, Holy Motors, 2012). Then of course all hell breaks lose. As it happens our hero is in his LAFD copter and first things first goes to rescue his wife (ex). This is where the action sequences start to quickly roll in. As it happens Emma was at a restaurant on the top floor of a sky-scraper when the first quake strikes. Through much survival against falling building, explosions and general mayhem, Emma survives and manages to be rescued by our hero.
Pretty quickly they learn that Blake is trapped in San Francisco, separated from Richard and trapped. Trapped she may be, but she is rescued by a young man, Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Goddess 2013) and his little brother, Ollie (Art Parkinson, Dracula Untold, 2014).Through Blake’s smart thinking they manage to raise her father & mother in LA. What does dad do, only turn his copter around and flies directly in San Fran. Of course life is never easy and Father Ray’s copter runs out of fuel, the road is split in two, the tsunami is on the way and meanwhile there are the various shocks and after-shocks to deal with. Just as Ray and Emma struggle to get to their daughter, she and her two friends also struggle to survive. In a moment which reflect current movie trends, the boys decide to stick with Blake after young Ollie asks his big brother is he had any of the survival skills Blake has shown, No! they are staying with her.
Needless to say both parties eventually reunite and after much struggle manage to make it to safety. This is not a bad movie, but it is not a great one either. If is suffers in any area it is in editing. I felt watching it that it was rather episodic, moving from one scene/challenge in to another. As I mentioned at the time to a friend, I am not sure if Ray is the most unlucky person in the world or actually the luckiest on the basis everything he tried either ran out of fuel, broke, died, blew up or suffered another such fate and he manager to not only survive but reach his daughter and with the help of his wife (in a very Rambo moment) mange to actually rescue them.
I would give the movie a fair ***, not the greatest movie, but not the worst by any means. I’m not a great fan of Dwayne Johnson, mainly on the basis that nothing he has done has inspired me, although this is no Shakespeare, he does manage to act and deliver some good lines. The Stars of the show are however, the two leading women, Mother and daughter Emma and Blake.
Watch it and enjoy it, it does exactly what it does on the tin.