I am an apologist for The Rock.

I like him.  I find him charming.  I’d want to be friends with him, because in some ways, he seems like the ideal kind of goofy nerd that I like to be around.  He  is obviously obsessed with working out, completely dedicated to being who he is, and rich as fuck because of that dedication.  He’s an admirable person.

He seems to choose movies based on whether or not they will be fun for him to do or how awesome he will look doing them.  For evidence, here is the glistening man himself in Fast Five.

Look at him glisten.  Marvel in the fact that he is a gigantic human being. Check out how he looks awesome.

He’s so cool and fun that part of me believes that it is all an act and that we’re going to eventually find out some dark shit about him, but guess what, I can already see myself humanizing him and appreciating him more.  I am also waiting for his true star turn.

The Rock has been in some really decent films.  His Fast and the Furious appearances are some of the most fun in the series (in fact, he is in two of the three best [My God, I have a blog where I can write about the Fast and the Furious movies and no one can make fun of me. {NO COMMENTS ABOUT THIS.  OUR LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDS AND WILL OVERCOME ALL OBSTICLES, VIN, THE ROCK, JAMES WAN, PAUL, MI FAMILIA}].  My official listing goes: 1. Five, 2. Six, 3. Tokyo.  Yeah, I said it, Tokyo.)   The Rundown, which is a movie I could never see again and be fine, was okay, and The Rock was charming in it.  Walking Tall took all the bite out of the movie, but once again, The Rock did good work in it.  For the most part though, he’s in bad movies.

Jesus, are they bad or what. He scraped up a franchise from Brendan Fraiser. He was in a Michael Bay movie not called Bad Boys. He played the Tooth Fairy (which was adorable, but Jesus.)  He played the second least convincing CGI Scorpion Spider thing, after Wild Wild West in The Mummy 3 and had his own spin-off from the franchise.

At some point, The Rock is going to be called upon to make a fantastic movie that requires him to actually give a great performance, and I really hope that he rises to the occasion.  I know that his aesthetics are how he got into entertainment, but he’s going to take a role that was written for a different looking person and truly make it his own.  He’s going to be a person who is vulnerable, hurt, and pained, or beaten emotionally while trying to do something.  I cannot wait for this turn, and I hope that he does an excellent job.  If Ballers wasn’t such lifestyle porn, I would think that it was the first steps toward this, but it looks like it is just going to be Entourage but with the acknowledgement that black people exist.

“But Matt, why have you wasted 800 words on talking about how much you love The Rock?  Are we going to talk about a recent movie with him in it, and are you going to say that it is terrible and made you annoyed, but you want to make it clear that you still like The Rock?” you, dear reader, say.

Yeah, pretty much.

San Andreas and How To Get Me To Stop Believing Your Movie

I caught the beginning of this movie on HBO which inspired me to write about it.  You see, picking movies for this is actually the most difficult part, because I want to have something to say about the movie and having something that makes you, dear reader, feel closer to me.  When I was watching it, I experienced a rollercoaster of feelings.  Let’s watch the first scene.

This first little bit is really effective.  It’s actually quite good filmmaking.  We have a set up.  A young girl is distractedly driving down a twisty road.  We set up a threat.  She takes her eyes off the road when approaching oncoming traffic.  Every time she looks away from the road, the tension in the scene is pushed up, and every time she gets through it, we end up at a higher level of suspense.  That’s awesome!

Then, when the accident that we know is coming finally happens, the film does a really good job with that too.  First, it’s from a completely different angle than we were expecting, a rock slide.  Second, it sets up the big bad of the movie as a threat.  Just a little bit of earth moving creates issues for this one person.  The back of your mind thinks about earthquakes and gets ready for the movie to start.  Third, we can see the stakes, and we know that she has a cell phone to call for help, which sends our heroes on their way to her.

My Disbelief Senses Are Tingling

Cut to: rescue helicopter.  Two young men are talking to a reporter and her cameraman.  We have a generic white guy and a generic black guy.  The Rock is framed between them, but faces away for the beginning of the scene, so that it’s a reveal that everyone expects and know is coming.  Whatever.

The reporter starts establishing the fact that these guys are heroes.   This flight crew for the Los Angeles Fire Department flew together in Iraq.  They worked together so well in a military context that they decided to work together in civilian life, but The Rock is the heroest hero of all of them, and this is established by saying how many missions that he’s flown, “over 600.”

I am not an expert in helicopters or military operations.  I don’t know how many missions one is expected to fly, or what counts as a mission.  I don’t know anything about that world, but that sounds like a metric ton of missions to me.

The Iraq war had been going on for 12 years at the time of this movie’s release.  That is 4,380 days.  We will give them the maximum amount of time.  An average Tour of Duty during Iraq was something between 12-15 months for someone who was in the Army. So, again, being generous, let’s say The Rock had three fifteen month tours.  This is probably insane, but whatever, we’re following the logic of the movie.  At 1350 ish days in country, The Rock would have to have flown a mission every 2.25 days per mission to get over 600 missions in Iraq. If we take it down to twelve month tours, we’re down to 1.85 days per mission.

Was this the filmmaker’s intention?  That I would be doing math about the number of missions?  No. They are just trying to establish that The Rock is a hero.  Why do I care?  Because you’re trying to make me buy in, movie.  You want me to think of him as a hero before he does stuff that is heroic, tell me a good story.  Have one of the other guys on the helicopter talk about his daring, his boldness, or his leadership.  Then, when he says, “Just doing my job, ma’am,” it’ll feel earned, because he’s respected by other heroes, but no, we’re too stupid to just assume that the dude flying a rescue helicopter is awesome, let’s give it a numerical value.

But hey, let’s not just pick that nit, let’s pick some more!

Why the hell is a reporter on an active mission to rescue someone?  Who on Earth would approve of such a thing?  We know that fuel is going to be a problem, because it’s a limited resource.  Were they giving an interview and then the emergency call was made?  Isn’t this dangerous work?  Should the people doing it be distracted by the media during it?  Later in the scene, one of the guys has to save the cameraman from falling out of the helocopter!  Who would allow that to happen?  Isn’t that endangering, I don’t know, EVERYBODY?

Oh, exposition is the reason?  Well, that’s fine then, movie. Please, don’t let my brain get in the way of your stupid.

The Rescue

So, we get to the girl stuck in the car.  The Rock, wisely leading and ascertaining the situation realizes that the car is precariously balanced, and that if the car goes, the girl is going to die.  So, instead of just trying to snatch her, they are going to try to secure the car, grab her, then cut the line.  They can’t use the basket because reasons, and their ropes aren’t long enough to get down to her, so they are going to “tip the hat.”

Now, as the commercial goes, I am just a small town pizza lawyer so I don’t fly helicopters, but I have a feeling that this would be an insane thing to do in a real helicopter.  But, you know what, maybe I’m wrong.  I wish I had an expert.  An Army helicopter pilot.  Someone I could ask about this kind of thing.  Oh, wait, I do have someone.

“Yeah it’s bullshit, everyone thinks it’s bullshit” – US Army Helicopter Pilot

Of course, we only have five minutes to save her, because the fuel is running out.  We know this because we are looking at gauges that mean nothing to someone who doesn’t pilot helicopters, and how concerned everyone is, sort of.  They all seem to be completely fine with the insane things that they are doing, but if the movie is going to ignore it, sure, so will I.

I mean, it’s not like there is a perfectly good road at the top of that cliff that they could land on, repel down to her level using ropes and not using fuel.  She seemed like she was pretty pinned in there, and as long as she doesn’t move, she doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  Maybe we could take our time then.  She doesn’t seem to be bleeding out or anything.  If we did it slow, maybe no one would have to rip a door off and hold a girl up using our big burly arms, and we could do it safely.  You’re right though, movie, the ability to land and take off from remote places without prepared landing sites is too crazy for the audience to believe.

Anyway, The Rock’s friends arm gets pinned under the truck, the winch holding the truck up starts burning out, and The Rock has to go get the girl and save his friend.  They do so.

And I Turned Off The Movie

And that’s when I knew I was done with the movie.  Paul Giamatti showed up talking about earthquakes. The Rock has a daughter and is getting a divorce.  I got bored and turned off the movie.  You see, when my brain goes into overdrive thinking about this kind of stuff, it really takes me out of the movie.  When I watch a helicopter fly into a tube during X-men: Apocolypse, I question what I am watching.  When every decision takes me further and further out of the movie, it gets almost impossible to watch.  I’m sure there are scenes after this that would blow my mind, but when a movie loses me after ten minutes, it’s gotta be pretty bad.  Please, Hollywood, I’m begging you, more Skyfall helicopters, less San Andreas.

Post Script: Cinema Sins Did It

Cinema Sins already did this scene.  The fact that we agree on nearly everything is always gratifying, but I wish I had done it first, so they could reference me.  So, boo Cinema Sins for being prescient.


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