Posts Tagged ‘Paul Giamatti


Review: San Andreas – The Fault is Not in Our Stars


After seeing him flex his broken arm to break off his cast in Furious 7, I’m really no longer sure what to make of Dwayne Johnson whenever I see him in a movie. It’s a bit like seeing a cartoon character like the Tasmanian Devil take the lead in The Day After Tomorrow.

Case in point, Johnson’s latest summer tentpole, San Andreas. Even the trailers were hard to take seriously. (And adding worse to wear, how the hell did Roland Emmerich NOT direct this movie?!) With special effects that look straight out of Adobe Photoshop, it’s difficult not to surmise that we were in some sort of strange holding pattern earlier this summer, just waiting for Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys. And Ant-Man. And in a car crash-kinda way, Fantastic Four.

The Big One hits California and everything falls apart. (Isn’t it odd how this summer movie season was pre-occupied with humanity’s extinction? Avengers? Mad Max? Tomorrowland? Not to mention that Terminator flick. The kids are gonna have nightmares about their mortality. Perhaps that’s the point? Make the world a better place while there’s still time? Man in the mirror?)


Dwayne Johnson plays a fire and rescue worker with one mission: to save his wife (Carla Gugino) and then his daughter (Alexandra Daddario). They all act properly panicked and anxiety ridden. Paul Giamatti is a scientist who predicts the giant earthquake and when he realizes how bad the devastation will be, someone asks him who they should call. The camera zooms in and with a straight face he says, “EVERYBODY!”

Yeah, it’s that kind of disaster flick. But the fault really isn’t in our stars for once. (Get it? San Andreas? Fault? Oh never mind.) Speaking of the fault itself, armchair scientists are going to have a field day spotting all the logistical inconsistencies and have the most fun doing it since Gravity. “Oh that couldn’t happen. Oh that couldn’t happen either!” Colton Haynes from Arrow, who was only in the first five minutes of this movie, showed up to the premiere in a completely pink suit. That happened. So really, who is to question what madness lies deep in the crevices of this production?

Surprisingly, for the mainland, there’s very little looting going on. Just one scene in a hick-ish town outside the urban proper. What’s really troubling is when an elderly couple on the side of the road with a broken axle yells at Johnson and Gugino to stop and pull over. They keep going and almost drive over a chasm. Only then do they turn back and offer their gratitude. But it works out for them because that elderly couple happens to own an aviation yard with one working plane.


Later the couple motor boat through the tsunami-ed waters of San Francisco. (I gave up counting when Johnson stole his third undamaged vehicle.) They see people drifting around in random boats and debris, but they keep going. In fact, the only time Johnson the professional rescue workers actually offers help is to yell a whole bunch of people to the safety of AT&T Park. But he probably only did that because wifey was gonna get smooshed by a falling building as well.

But one isn’t here to debate the morals of San Andreas. At least I hope not. That would result in a web article longer than what Chris Hemsworth is packing in the red band Vacation trailer.

Oddly, for once the 3-D here is surprisingly effective and present. Most often in simple scenes where actors are in both the foreground and the background, and especially during a canyon helicopter rescue that opens the movie. Oddly not so much when skyscrapers crumble, cable bridges twist and come undone, and helpless people get splatted by huge chunks of rubble. After Avengers (both of them), if you’ve seen one building crumble, you’ve seen them all crumble.

San Andreas made over $150 million dollars at the domestic box office. I feel like Paul Giamatti. Perhaps you will listen to my warnings and make the proper preparations to see Mad Max: Fury Road again. And who should you take with you? EVERYBODY!

San Andreas is now available to own on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital download.


Review: Saving Mr. Banks


Not even a personal tour of Disneyland with Walt Disney himself could turn that frown upside down.

Sometimes the story behind how a book or film was made is a much more interesting tale than the thing that was created. All of the things we like about our most beloved stories had to have come from somewhere, so naturally we’re intrigued by the genesis behind elements of a story that we’re all familiar with. Hollywood knows this, of course, as it continues to pump out origins stories when a franchise has been milked dry of sequels. We also love to know how our favorite things came to be from a behind-the-scenes perspective in more of a true origins story, and this is what Disney’s latest goes for with Saving Mr. Banks, a look at the creation of the classic film Mary Poppins from director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Rookie).

Saving Mr. Banks portrays author P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson) having serious trepidation about signing the film rights over to Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks). Keep in mind that this is Hollywood circa the 1960s, not 2014 when book adaptations, sequels, and remakes run wild. Back in those days, people had the foresight to think about their decisions on what kind of movies would be made, and Travers is ever the watchdog of her story that she holds with deep reverence.


You gotta call him Walt.

The disdain Travers shows Walt at first glance seems like the dilemma of an author worried about the adaptation of her book becoming too commercialized and part of the Disney machine, which would give us a nice allegory about the big conglomerate machine assimilating yet another small and original story. However, as the film goes on we get a deeper understanding into why Travers is so adverse to the Disney adaptation through a series of flashbacks on her early life as a child growing up in rural Australia as well as a number of conversations Travers has while dealing with adapting the film.

What starts off seeming like being protective slowly turns into oppressiveness that paints Travers as the kid with a ball who won’t let anyone play with it. At a certain point in the film I became sympathetic to Walt’s point of view and started thinking what in the world is Travers doing. Throughout the process Walt is very accommodating with all of her demands and yet nothing is good enough for her. Then as things progress we start to get to the heart of why Travers is so protective of her work.


Dad just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich.

In many flashback sequences that are interspersed throughout the film, we come to realize Travers’ protectiveness as well as the genesis of the character of Mary Poppins. The main heart of the film centers around understanding Travers’ defensiveness for her creation and the ultimate realization and resolution to let the film be made (spoiler alert: yes, P.L. Travers did let Walt Disney turn Mary Poppins into a movie).

In the end, what gets the film made isn’t so much a proper depiction on screen or a good translation from book to film; it’s more about realizing that sometimes the things we hold onto the hardest, things from our past, need to be let go in order for us to move forward and live our lives.

Performance-wise, Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are solid as always. While Hanks had a much better performance earlier this year in Captain Phillips, he’s perfectly fine here playing the energetic and friendly Walt Disney. Hanks’ version of Disney, while not being overly showy or impression-like, does give you enough to see him as the former mogul. The real star is Thompson as P.L. Travers. She plays the defensive author with great wit and inner torture to make you as frustrated as the filmmakers working with her on Mary Poppins while laughing at her remarks and jokes at the very same time.


They’re the best . . . around. Nothing’s gonna ever keep them down.

Saving Mr Banks also features a couple of decent supporting turns from Colin Farrell as Travers’ father in flashback sequences and Paul Giamatti as Travers’ driver while in Los Angeles. These two get the meatier of the supporting roles while BJ Novak, Bradley Whitford, and Jason Schwartzman are sidelined by playing the filmmakers tasked to work with (and get pounded by) Travers.

On the whole I felt the payoff of why Travers was sidelining production of the film wasn’t quite worth the journey. Granted the explanation is emotional and genuine, I just didn’t feel it matched with everything that had come before it. Ultimately it had me going “Was that all this was about?” at the end. However, you know the old adage: “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.” The sum of all the parts of Saving Mr. Banks are actually better than the whole–with the performances of the film leading the way. While the story was interesting and the performances were very good, it just wasn’t quite all there for me in the end. Maybe it needed just another spoonful of sugar.

Saving Mr. Banks is finishing up its run and playing at select local theaters.

Rating 3/5 stars // PG-13 // 2h 5min

Contact Red Band Project