Sunday, May 31, 2015
Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Aloha & San Andreas
Dearest Blog, yesterday it was off to the pictures more because it's what I do on a Saturday than because there was anything I was all that interested in watching. The weekend's offerings: Aloha and San Andreas.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing not previously divulged by the trailers.
First on my middling agenda: Aloha.
A former military hotshot gets a second chance at life and love in Hawaii.
Aloha isn't normally the type of movie I'd watch unless and until it crossed my path for free on cable; however, a super cast made it a better option than the dreadful-looking Tomorrowland to complete my San Andreas double-bill.
Aloha's biggest flaw is that it never really decides what it is. Tangents are many, fully explored ones are few, and things always seem to be happening and people behaving in ways that don't quite make sense. The movie clocks in under two hours; it might have done well to better flesh out a few things. NOT encouraging yet another bloated less-than-epic Hollywood epic, but Aloha feels a bit like a puzzle missing a piece.
The movie makes little use of Hawaii's great natural beauty, though it doesn't willfully try to make the island seem unappealing, either, like the Descendants did. Also in its favor over the Descendants: people in Aloha actually wear real, grownup shoes sometimes. Hooray for socks!!
The aforementioned super cast almost--almost!--manages to compensate for Aloha's other shortcomings. Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride make the most of their limited screen time, and Bill Murray, John Krasinski, and Rachel McAdams are perfect fits in supporting roles.
Bradley Cooper is nothing short of fantastic in the sort of leading man role that's perfect for a guy with his looks, even if he's been both good and lucky enough to break out of that mold for the most part.
Young Jaeden Lieberher is the movie's scene-stealer, precocious, but not annoying. Finally, whatever higher power you believe in, if you don't think Emma Stone represents His/Her/Its finest work, well, then, I just don't know what's wrong with you. She is earnest and beautiful and 150% terrific, and lights up every scene she's in to such a degree that it hurts when she's missing. So, yeah, Aloha is kind of hokey, but in the end I was rooting for almost everyone and I actually liked it.
Aloha runs 105 minutes and is rated PG13 for "some language, including suggestive comments."
Despite its being the second romance forced on me by a pitiful spring film slate, I didn't hate it.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Aloha gets five.
Next up, San Andreas.
Dwayne Johnson is better than you are, and you should make every effort to be in his company when beset by disaster.
Listen, San Andreas is the kind of thing that's normally right up my alley, but a done-to-death idea and effects that looked kinda wonky in the trailer left me ambivalent. I'm pleased to say that, though it may be the most stupidly implausible movie I've ever seen (and remember, I like movies about radioactive spiders and talking dragons), San Andreas is also quite fun.
Truth: San Andreas is dumber than a bag of hair. Lowest-common denominator laughs. Contrived scenarios. Insipid dialogue. Painful "inspirational" shots backed by a comically-swelling score. Had I rolled my eyes just one more time, I'd be looking out the back of my head to write this review.
I'd heard some complaints about the accuracy of the movie's earthquake science, and while I don't doubt those are entirely true, I don't think most folks would have noticed or cared; the bigger problem is that everything else is so ridiculous you can't even buy into the mundane.
The supporting cast ranges from "I love that guy!" (Will Yun Lee) to pretty likeable (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson) to super annoying (Alexandra Daddario) to "What the hell are you even doing here?" (Paul Giamatti).
I'm sorely disappointed to discover that the beautiful Carla Gugino is an ugly crier. Of course none of that really matters, because the movie belongs to Dwayne Johnson. Despite the fact he doesn't do much smiling or taking off his shirt (the two things he does best, for my money), he remains one of the more engaging leading men working in Hollywood today, and at his side probably isn't the worst place you could be when the world goes to hell. San Andreas is pretty entertaining, and that's mostly thanks to Johnson.
Thankfully, the effects are also better than the trailer would have led you to believe. There's one awful bit of green-screen, but the rest is huge and quite effective. Felt a lot like being on a rollercoaster, and I saw it in 2D; I can only imagine the 3D is utterly vomit inducing, in the best possible way. The movie also does a great job at maintaining tension, a fingernail chewer from start to finish.
San Andreas clocks in at 114 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language" (a single f-bomb that you can see coming a mile out).
It's a disaster alright, but it's a fun one.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, San Andreas gets four.
Until next time...