I like disaster movies, in occasional doses. I was particularly drawn to this one because it deals with the real science of Earthquakes and the fact that a big one along the San Andreas fault is way overdue.
The science is dealt with really well by always excellent Paul Giamatti as fictional Cal Tech professor Dr. Lawrence Hayes. He and his post-docs are studying ways to monitor seismic instruments all up and down California to develop an early warning system to get people to safety when a quake is about to hit.
The star is action junkie Dwayne Johnson as Raymond Gaines. The opening scene shows him in action as a helicopter pilot and rescue specialist when a distracted driver ends up with her car clinging to a canyon wall and needing rescue. But as good as he is at rescuing others, he seems unable to rescue his marriage and later we see him get divorce papers needing signing.
His beautiful wife is played by one of my favorites, Carla Gugino as Emma Gaines. And they have a pretty 20-ish daughter, Alexandra Daddario as Blake Gaines. There also is the rich but evil, or at least egotistical, new boyfriend, Ioan Gruffudd as Daniel Riddick. (Riddick? Did they have to use that name??)
So naturally the big Earthquake everyone out west fears is hitting, people are in danger, parents and their daughter get separated, and we see if Gaines can effect yet another low-percentage rescue, this time his own family.
So overall the story of the quake is a neat story, it may actually happen in our lifetimes. Or it may not. Plus as we expect of modern movies the special effects are great, it even made me a bit sad to see some of my favorite places being destroyed. But the relationship stories, as important as they are, mostly came across as predictable and "cheesy".
Yet I did enjoy the movie, and the sound effects gave my SVS subwoofer a good workout!
SPOILERS: Daughter traveled to San Francisco, with mom's new rich boyfriend, but parents were still in Los Angeles when the quakes started to hit. When the S.F building started to crumble boyfriend ran to safety, leaving daughter trapped in parking garage. Two brothers came to her rescue while dad rescued mom and they headed north via helicopter. But the helicopter crapped out, they had to steal a pickup truck. They came to an impassable new ravine across the highway so traded for a fixed wing plane. S.F was being torn apart and a tsunami was arriving, no place to land they had to parachute out. Unable to get to a hill on foot, they used a boat. Against all odds they found the daughter and the two brothers and rescued them from a flooding building. Mom sent boyfriend a message, "If you aren't dead yet I'm going to F-ing kill you!"
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