December 13, 2014

TRAILER: San Andreas

LA traffic is bad on a good day. Here's what it looks like on a really bad one.
While the Negative Nancy contingent at the USGS continues to sound alarm bells of impending seismic doom for the West Coast, the good folks at Warner Bros. aren’t waiting around for Mother Nature to unleash The Big One. The 2015 Summer blockbuster blitz kicks into high gear on May 29th with the release of SAN ANDREAS, a disaster film that makes the wildly overrated EARTHQUAKE (1974) look quaint by comparison.
Dwayne Johnson stars in SAN ANDREAS.
The cast is an oddball mix that feels like a thinly veiled attempt to hit key demo hotspots. Guys and action fans get genre fave Dwayne Johnson as the heroic lead. The geek contingent can nibble on  pop-culture treats like Colton Haynes (ARROW), Art Parkinson (GAME OF THRONES) and  Will Yun Lee (THE WOLVERINE). Talented thesps Carla Gugino and Paul Giamatti are there to  class up the joint and Kylie Minogue (yes, Kylie Minogue) means you won’t have to bribe your gay besties to tag along. It’s quirky casting, to be sure, but that’s where the fun ends. If the first-full length trailer for SAN ANDREAS is any indication, this film means business.
Earlier this month, I dinged the JURASSIC WORLD trailer for showing off way too much. Though chock-a-block with special effects shots, the dinosaurs have a “been there, done that” quality and the whole presentation felt like overcompensation on a grand scale. It managed to do what no promo ever should: suck all the anticipation out of the room. Much to my surprise, SAN ANDREAS is not a repeat offender.
Los Angeles bears the brunt of The Big One.
Before you dive in, play this quick word association game: what adjectives pop into your noggin when you think about a big-budget summer disaster film starring a guy who still moonlights with the WWE as The Rock? Nothing I came up with was brutally negative but “must-see” was nowhere on my list. What a difference two minutes of very effective marketing can make.
The trailer is dead-serious from the start. A spare, downbeat piano score accompanies an opening montage that intercuts shots of iconic California locations with increasingly ominous on-screen titles. It’s an effective set-up that pays off with a sobering visual coda. Then, all hell breaks loose when a massive seismic wave rolls across the city of Los Angeles. It’s a jaw-dropping display of digital wizardry that demands attention. Extra points for the super-creepy a cappella cover of “California Dreaming” that accompanies the carnage.
Even if the plot sucks, it’s a safe bet that SAN ANDREAS will set a new standard for big screen special effects. The quick cuts of epic-scale destruction that round out the promo are impressive and frighteningly photo-realistic. Plus, it doesn’t feel like we’ve already seen the whole movie. As trailers go, this one pushes all the right buttons. So far, I’m in.