San Andreas won’t rock your world but it is decent summer popcorn fun; Welcome 2 Karachi is decidedly unwelcome
San Andreas ***
Dir: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Paul Giamatti, Art Parkinson, Archie Panjabi, Will Yun Lee
San Andreas takes you back to those popular disaster movies of the 70s like Earthquake, The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure but with a smaller cast and better special effects. Indeed, it is the special effects which are the real star of the show and they are indeed spectacular (even if slightly predictable and occasionally repetitive). So it is best to watch this movie on the biggest screen that you can find for some good old-fashioned popcorn movie fun.
San Andreas follows the familiar conceit of movies of this sort. Concentrate the action on a few characters (preferably a separated family desperately trying to reunite and survive while all hell breaks loose around them) and make the audience care about their fate and you can get away by killing hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of anonymous people. In this case we have Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock), a rescue helicopter pilot with the Los Angeles fire department who sets out to save not only his estranged wife, Emma (Carla Gugino) but also his daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario) stranded all the way up in San Francisco when the biggest earthquake of them all hits. Other characters include Emma’s billionaire boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd), the obligatory doomsayer scientist (Paul Giamatti), the equally obligatory television reporter (Archie Panjabi), and two vacationing British brothers (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson), the elder of which could be a potential boyfriend for Blake. The cast does a good job of selling the script with Johnson appropriately focused as the alpha male intent on rescuing his family and Giamatti intently warning everybody to get themselves to safety. Daddario’s beauty is always welcome (Warner Bros. really missed a trick in not casting her as the new Wonder Woman) but she’s also pretty good as the plucky, competent Blake and Johnston-Burt and Parkinson provide some nice comedy relief.
Cut to chase: Clichéd but good fun for the big screen.
Welcome 2 Karachi * ½
Dir: Ashish R Mohan
Starring: Arshad Warsi, Jackky Bhagnani, Lauren Gottlieb, Dalip Tahil, Ayub Khoso, Adnan Shah
Two idiots (think Dumb & Dumber) from across the border find themselves washed up on our shores without any proof of their identities and now they just want to get back home without getting killed or getting hauled up as spies. That’s the basis of this extremely stupid comedy which gets stupider and excruciatingly duller as it goes along. There was potential in the premise to upend preconceived notions and deliver a comedy with some political bite but that potential is completely wasted.
Ex-Naval officer Shammi (Arshad Warsi) and the son of a Gujarati event planner, Kedar (Jackky Bhagnani) steal the latter’s father’s party yacht in a bid to get to the United States but a storm blows them off-course and onto the Clifton beach. Soon they find themselves smack dab in the middle of every stereotype and cliché you can think of - gun-wielding, India-hating, murderous Pakistanis of every ethnicity running riot in Karachi (and beyond), suicide-bombing Taliban laying waste to anything and everything, obnoxious Americans bumbling their way through diplomatic minefields and leaving a mess in their wake, and so on - and all wrapped up in the most juvenile humour. The irritating Jackky Bhagnani only got his part because his father produced the movie but no actor could have saved this script. The talented Arshad Warsi is totally wasted and I fail to understand why our own Ayub Khoso and Adnan Shah chose this film to make their Mollywood debuts with. Lauren Gottlieb, the American dancer/choreographer/actor currently plying her trade in Mumbai, makes a better impression covered up as a Pakistani intelligence officer than she does scantily clad in two item numbers.
Cut to chase: Dim-witted and dreary. Avoid.
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