My family and I sat down and watched a movie last night. ‘San Andreas.’ It starred Dwayne Johnson who some of you may know as “The Rock.” Glad I didn’t pay to see it in a theater. Not that I would have. This type of thing is best held off ‘til it’s released on DVD.
One recurring thought kept going through my mind as I watched this film. Clichés. Good Lord. They threw ‘em at you one after the other. Almost literally, really, because the film was also released in 3D.
But, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t expecting a great film. First of all, it’s a disaster movie. Secondly, it has The Rock. Now, I actually like the guy. Back when I used to watch the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), he and Steve Austin used to be my favorite wrestlers. But no one is ever going to accuse him of being a great actor. He knows that, though, so he knows what kind of movie scripts to pick. He’ll never do a remake of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ Boy, just think of it. The Rock as Stanley Kowalski. “Stellaaaaaaaaaaa….”
He wasn’t the problem with this flick, though. It was the writers. I kept wondering, as someone who now writes, how they can look at themselves in the mirror after penning this stuff. Okay, I know. It’s those huge Hollywood paychecks. But, still…geez!
First of all, we have the hero pilot. That would be The Rock. We are witnesses to his awesomeness early on in the plot (I use this word very loosely). We soon learn that he and his wife are getting a divorce. All of the clichés you know of are used, here. The ex-wife and her boyfriend are getting married. The Rock puts on a hurt face. “I’m sorry, I meant to tell you,” she says. The boyfriend seems like a great guy, but we later find out he’s a complete creep and coward. You didn’t see that coming, did ya? He gets killed, of course. Another shocker.
One by one the clichés fall all around you like the debris dropping from the wrecked buildings in the movie. Think The Rock and the ex will get back together before the movie ends? Need you ask? Will they find their missing daughter amongst all of the millions of people in San Francisco? Will she be alive inside all of that wreckage? Stay tuned!
The writers made no attempt to surprise the audience. You’ve seen it all before. Every word has been spoken, every scene already done. And how many times can you pull that tired old trick where the car falls off of the cliff just as someone gets out, the building collapses just as our heroes escape it, the bridge goes down just as they cross it. I mean, after a while…c’mon!
When I write I try hard not to do something everybody else has done. I don’t want my characters to be all that predictable. I don’t want the reader to say, “Oh, I know what’s going to happen, now.” I want to hear that they said, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.”
I couldn’t write the kind of character that The Rock played in the film, either. He was almost super-human: never messed up, did everything right. The perfect hero. Unrealistic and two dimensional. My heroes will always be flawed individuals. They make mistakes. Sometimes, big ones that get people killed. They are unsure of themselves. And they often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No, I thought, as I viewed this with my wife and kids. I couldn’t write this stuff. Not with a clear conscience. It was painful to watch. It did have one good thing going for it, however. The special effects were nicely done.
Be here next week for Captain Cliché’s first adventure!