San Andreas Movie Review

San Andreas Movie Poster

Saw another movie with my wife! This time it was San Andreas, the earthquake disaster movie.

The movie was excellent, if predictable. I’ve seen a decent amount of disaster movies and this one did not break the mold. It’s just very good within that genre.

The plot of the movie is pretty simple. A series of earthquakes rock the West Coast. Ray, a rescue worker played by Dwayne Johnson, must rescue his daughter and separated wife and get them to safety.

The characters are admittedly stereotypes but they’re stereotypes with depth. Ray is “the rescue worker who could save everyone except for his own daughter.”

We’ve all heard that before but the movie introduces it so well.

After an action scene at the start of the movie, Ray goes home and calls his daughter.

He invites her out to dinner while opening some mail. She declines dinner saying that she already has plans with “Mom and Daniel.” Ray looks disappointed but doesn’t let it come out in his voice as he finishes the phone call and the camera pans down to the divorce papers that he opened.

We instantly know almost everything about that family dynamic. Daniel is the mom’s new boyfriend and Ray is trying to not let it bother him.

Ray then goes upstairs and looks through some old photos and gets really sad when he comes to a photo of him his wife and two daughters.

Two daughters? But we’ve only seen one in the movie! Ah… that’s because the other one is dead.

You get all this information very quickly in the movie and it’s all given to you organically. No one had to mention the dead daughter. No one had to mention the divorce. Those are just things that the audience knows now, just as the characters know them.

That flawless characterization continues through the rest of the movie along with a bunch of awesome earthquake rescue stuff.

Ray pilots a helicopter, drives a truck, stops looters, flies a plane, parachutes, sails a boat through a tsunami, and looks amazing doing it. His wife, Em, played by Carla Gugino, manages to keep her hair looking fabulous while helping (seriously, her hair never lost its curls or got dirt in it).

The rise and fall of action is fairly predictable. “Wow! That was intense! Are they safe? NO!” repeats over and over.

Alexandra Daddario plays the daughter, Blake, who takes care of two English brothers she finds in San Francisco before the quake hits.

Blake also slowly gets sexier as the movie goes on. She loses her outer shirt first, then she gets sopping wet, followed by a few down the shirt shots.

Despite all the awesome stuff in the movie there are two glaring errors I have to mention.

First, the movie says that Bakersfield is 90 minutes from San Francisco by helicopter. This is only true at max speed for helicopters. The helicopter in the movie would’ve run out of gas before they made it to SF. Ray and Em should’ve known this and planned for it.

Second, one of the English brothers gets a large shard of glass stuck in his leg. Blake decides they need to remove it so they can keep moving, which is about the stupidest thing you can do in this situation.

They do a dirty job of bandaging his leg, but he probably needed a tournequit, not a bandage.

He continues to remain active through the rest of the movie. Even giving his younger brother a piggyback ride and swimming. All while mysteriously not bleeding out due to his untreated injury.

Em is also injured during the movie and that cut on her head conveniently disappears by the end.

Still, great movie I’d recommend it especially to Californians. This movie has everything that we’re scared of about the big quake that’s overdue. And you get to see the Golden Gate destroyed which was awesome and heartwrenching at the same time.

Go see San Andreas!

-GoCorral

TAing at Sac State

One of the lab benches of the room I teach in.
One of the lab benches of the room I teach in.

For the past few months I have been assisting in teaching a introductory biology lab at Sac State.

I TA Bio 15L which is a general education course for non-science majors. The course uses interactive labs to go over all the basics of biology, like ecology, speciation, DNA, genes, and that good stuff.

The class has been a lot of fun for me for a lot of different reasons.

I like helping out the students. Its nice to see some of them so interested in biology even if it is nowhere near what their major is. One of them is even considering switching her major.

It’s nice to go over all the material again. I learned it all years ago and everything is easy for me now. Obviously I should know the material in a class that I teach, but its still fun to know that I could get any of the questions in the class right if the teacher called on me, even when I am the teacher.

The experience of being on the other side of a class is also interesting. I have to deal with making quizzes, grading, student absences, and preventing cheating.

Student absences is probably the hardest part. This is a college level class, so they’re free to not show up if they don’t want to. Its just inevitable that the ones who don’t show up do poorly on the quizzes that cover the material they missed or they miss the quizzes entirely. And this is college so there are no makeup quizzes.

There’s nothing I can really do about absences, but I’d like to be able to tech the students that do come to class so that they can all understand the material and use it in their own lives later on.

Learning biology is important for a number of reasons. How can you be an informed voter on GMO issues if you don’t properly understand what GMOs are? How can you vote on global warming initiatives without knowing more about that? And wouldn’t you like to know how genetics work when you start planning a family to see what genetic risks your potential child could have?

I try to teach the students that sort of stuff. I feel like I’m just learning how the labs work this semester. I know I’ll do way better next semester when I can focus more on directing what we are trying to learn with the labs and giving the students more specific strategies for learning.

Also, I can hopefully be more enthusiastic when I give lectures. The mid-semester student evaluations indicated that the only place I really needed to improve was in how enthusiastic my voice sounded when I was presenting the material.

-Mister Ed