Reel Reviews

‘San Andreas’

A-III – adults


Watch Trailer

More Movie Reviews

Fault lines

“Shake, Rattle, and Roll” would be the ideal theme song for “San Andreas” (Warner Bros.), an eye-popping, ear-splitting 3-D chronicle of a California earthquake.

Yes, it’s time for the “big one” – make that big ones – to strike the Golden State, in this update of the star-studded disaster films that Hollywood churned out in the 1970s (including 1974’s “Earthquake”).

Now it’s director Brad Peyton’s turn to oversee the wholesale destruction of the West Coast, when the eponymous tectonic fault line splits wide open.

The result, meticulously rendered in CGI, is often thrilling, sometimes silly, and frequently preposterous – in other words, your typical summer popcorn movie.

Science takes center stage in “San Andreas.” Lawrence (Paul Giamatti), a seismology professor, has invented a detection system which he believes can predict an earthquake before it happens. His system is put to the test in Nevada, where a previously unknown fault line is discovered. In the blink of an eye, the earth moves, and the Hoover Dam bursts, one of the film’s many spectacular disaster sequences.

Turns out Nevada has a connection to the San Andreas Fault. With the help of Serena (Archie Panjabi), an attractive television reporter, Lawrence sounds the alarm from Los Angeles to San Francisco for everyone to “drop, cover and hold on.”

“The earth will literally crack and you will feel it on the East Coast,” he warns.
But first, domestic drama intrudes. Ray (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), a helicopter rescue pilot with the Los Angeles Fire Department, is suffering from empty-nest syndrome. His marriage to Emma (Carla Gugino) has failed, and their daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), is leaving for college in San Francisco.

Fortunately, Ray has little time to fret when the first of several earthquakes strike (a “seismic swarm”), starting in the City of Angels and moving up the coast, toppling everything in its path.

Enter the action hero. Ray pilots his helicopter to rescue Emma, and together they head north to find their daughter.

“This is not a normal day!” Ray exclaims. And how.

In the meantime, Blake maneuvers through the ruins of the City by the Bay with the help of two brothers visiting from England, Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and Ollie (Art Parkinson), all the while watching the sky for Daddy’s chopper.

An epic of destruction and catastrophe, “San Andreas” is not for the young or faint of heart. Nor is it likely to boost tourism to California anytime soon.

The film contains relentless, intense but mostly bloodless disaster-related violence and mayhem, and occasional crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service 


A-II – adults and adolescents


Watch Trailer

More Movie Reviews


Frantic fight for the future

Against all expectations, Walt Disney took a theme park ride, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and turned it into a blockbuster film franchise. Now the studio has similar hopes for an entire theme park area in “Tomorrowland.”

The result? Disney has done it again. “Tomorrowland” is a delightful science-fiction film and great fun for the entire family. Directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”), who co-wrote the screenplay with Damon Lindelof (TV’s “Lost”), “Tomorrowland” is bursting with optimism and enthusiasm. Its hopeful view of the future is a refreshing contrast to the depressing dystopian vision that has dominated Hollywood films of late.

The film borrows the name but little else from the futuristic-themed section of Disneyland and other Disney parks. Instead, there’s a meticulous recreation of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, which was a showcase of future ideas and innovations. There Disney created the “It’s a Small World” ride to promote global harmony. In the film, it serves as the gateway to the gleaming utopia that exists, “Twilight Zone”-like, in another dimension. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, a whiz-kid boy inventor, Frank (Thomas Robinson), takes a detour on the ride into Tomorrowland.

He’s lured there by a mysterious girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Her mission is to recruit the best and brightest talent on Earth to learn from a place of peace and promise.

Fast-forward 40 years, and something has gone awry. Earth is fraught with problems, including war and natural disasters. Despair fills the air, and the future is far from bright. In school, Casey (Britt Robertson) is frustrated by all the gloom and doom. “I get things are bad,” she tells her teacher. “What are we doing to fix it?” Casey is a dreamer, inspired by her father, Eddie (Tim McGraw), a NASA engineer. But even NASA is being dismantled, along with Casey’s dream of reaching the stars.

Before you can say “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” Athena reappears, looking none the worse for wear, for she is actually a sophisticated (and ageless) robot (mirroring Disney’s skill with animatronics). She recruits Casey for a special mission: to save Tomorrowland. The city has fallen under the spell of a coldhearted bureaucrat called Nix (Hugh Laurie), who is responsible for wreaking havoc on earth.

Why Casey is the savior is anyone’s guess. With Athena in tow, she looks up Frank, who has aged into the dashing George Clooney. Twenty years ago, Frank was banished from Tomorrowland for threatening to expose the conspiracy. “Tomorrowland” morphs into a buddy movie as man, girl and robot race against time to, literally, save the future.

The action sequences in the film have a cartoonish quality, but the ray guns and decapitations (of robots) may upset the younger set. Others will be equally amused and enchanted.

In the end, the film takes a cue from a Disney anthem composed for the World’s Fair: “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

The film contains cartoonish but bloodless action sequences and a few mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service 

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (June 2015)

CNS classifications: A-I: general patronage; A-II: adults and adolescents; A-III: adults; L: limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O: morally offensive.
MPAA ratings: G: general audiences. All ages admitted; PG: parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13: parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R: restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian; NC-17: no one 17 and under admitted.

The Age of Adaline, A-III (PG-13)
Aloha, A-II (PG-13)
Avengers: Age of Ultron, A-III (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)
Begin Again, A-III (R)
Chappie, L (R)
Child 44, A-III (R)
Cinderella, A-I (PG)
The D Train, O (R)
Danny Collins, A-III (R)
The Divergent Series: Insurgent, A-III (PG-13)
Do You Believe?, A-II (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)
The DUFF, A-III (PG-13)
Ex Machina, O (R)
Far from the Madding Crowd, A-II (PG-13)
Focus, L (R)
Furious 7, A-III (PG-13)
Get Hard, O (R)
The Gunman, L (R)
Home, A-I (PG)
Hot Pursuit, A-III (PG-13)
It Follows, O (R)
Jupiter Ascending, A-III (PG-13)
Kingsman: The Secret Service, A-III (R)
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Lazarus Effect, A-III (PG-13)
Little Boy, A-II (PG-13)
The Longest Ride, A-III (PG-13)
Mad Max: Fury Road, L (R)
Marie's Story, A-II (not rated)
McFarland, USA, A-II (PG)
Monkey Kingdom, A-I (G)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, A-I (PG)
Pitch Perfect 2, A-III (PG-13)
Poltergeist, A-III (PG-13)
Project Almanac, A-III (PG-13)
The Pyramid, A-III (R)
Run All Night, L (R)
San Andreas, A-III (PG-13)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, A-III (PG)
Seventh Son, A-II (PG-13)
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, A-I (PG)
Tomorrowland, A-II (PG)
The Trip to Italy, A-III (not rated)
True Story, A-III (R)
Unfinished Business, O (R)
Unfriended, O (R)
The Water Diviner, A-III (R)
Woman in Gold, A-II (PG-13)

Copyright (c) 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops