Book Review: Starship Troopers

Originally posted on Geeks and Geeklets

sstroopers

Title: Starship Troopers

Author: Robert Heinlein

Published: 1959

Pages: 263

Genre: Science Fiction

Kid Friendly Rating: 13+ The inner workings of outer space warfare might be a little advanced for younger readers, but Heinlein goes easy on the gory details.

Synopsis:

In a flimsily-justified effort to “be his own man,” Juan “Johnnie” Rico turns his back on his father’s successful business and joins the Federation military for a contractual two-year term of service. However, as tensions mount between the Federation and the “Bug” species, Rico finds himself drawn further into military life than he ever intended.

Final Thoughts:

Most people today are probably more familiar with the 1997 movie of the same name… Oh, god. I’ve just had a thought. That was almost 20 years ago. Are you younger Millennials out there even aware of this movie? That is depressing.

Anyway, it was a movie directed by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Robocop, Basic Instinct), starring Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, and Dougie Howser Barney Stinson Neil Patrick Harris. I saw it in theaters at an outrageously inappropriate 11 years old, and it was completely full of swearing, blood, violence, and nudity. It was incredible.

Fast-forward 19 years, and I still remember it fondly, although I do respect that it is not the masterpiece of modern cinema that I once believed. It’s got sort of a small cult status now. I see memes and gifs pop up periodically, ironically or not.

 

 

In the interest of rounding out this review, I watched the movie again this week, and I did not feel let down. Possibly the single most remarkable thing about this movie, nearly twenty years on, is that the special effects actually hold up pretty well. Many sci-fi movies from the 90’s are burdened by an over-reliance on under-developed CGI effects, but this movie, either through the use of scale models and animatronics, clever lighting, or just well-thought-out usage of CGI, has largely managed to avoid that.

This is not to say you’ll think you’re watching a movie that was released yesterday. Scene transitions and some effects, particularly those used for outer space scenes, do show a bit of their age. I’d put the effects about on par with a well-produced HBO show, like Game of Thrones.

This should also go without saying, but please don’t go into this movie expecting an Oscar winner. This is a fun sci-fi action movie. Full stop. It does have a little tongue-in-cheek social and political commentary to class up the place, but the thrust of the movie is Man vs. Bug. If you can get behind that, you’re in.

If I were to register a single complaint, it would be, man, Casper Van Dien was the best they could come up with for Johnnie Rico? His acting is a little, ah, wooden. To be completely fair to Van Dien, I think the script somewhat calls for it. Johnnie Rico is a painfully earnest and rah-rah character, very much in the vein of Chris Evans’ Captain America. And boy, Van Dien sure is purdy to look at.

Now, as for the book. I did not know this book existed until a few years ago, and even after learning about it, I was not especially interested. I liked the movie. Why should I need to re-hash it in literary form? I could just watch the movie that I like again. Well, much like the lark that took Rico into military service, I finally gave it a shot, and found a surprising number of differences.

The movie was not a standard book-to-script adaptation. The love triangle between Rico, Carmen, and Dizzy which provides the narrative thrust of the movie is really nowhere to be found. Carmen exists, but only as a distant friend rather than a love interest, and Dizzy is merely a fellow male boot camp cadet who plays a minuscule role.

The movie is largely an action movie split between the perspectives of Rico and Carmen, but the book is entirely Rico’s first person narrative, and combat scenes, while present, account for a very small percentage of the book. Much of the novel focuses on Rico’s various experiences in boot camp and beyond that serve to shape him into the person and soldier he will become. The novel really doesn’t read like an action story, or even a largely sci-fi story, despite the exotic settings. With the detailed descriptions of boot camp proceedings and how infantry rankings are assigned either by recommendation, officer training, and necessity in the field, it reads almost like a real historical war account.

The book manages to be remarkably prescient for a book authored in 1959, although it is also a book of its times. One of the most strikingly dated things about the book is the treatment of female characters, along with Rico’s general viewpoints on women. Heinlein manages to be both forward-looking and endearingly chivalrous. On one hand, he has placed the majority of the female characters in his book in leadership roles within the military. By Rico’s words, women have faster reflexes and reaction times, and their superior scores in math make them prime candidates for space naval pilot and officer positions. On the other hand, Heinlein did not write a single female character placed in the Mobile Infantry, the implication being that it is the job of strong men to stand on the front lines and sacrifice themselves to protect the women. It’s sort of a dichotomy, right? Of course, one could also argue that Rico made it clear that the M.I. was his absolute last choice for military assignments, so if there were no women there, perhaps it was because they simply scored out of it.

The film treated men and women soldiers as equals without fanfare or commentary, both in the navy and within the mobile infantry, although it should be said that the majority of M.I. troopers remained men. One thing even more interesting to me about the book’s gender setup is another sharp departure from the movie. In the book, the M.I. enters combat zones within fully equipped power armor, which more or less renders the wearer’s physical strength moot (although it is reinforced several times that a soldier who is compromised physically through sickness or weariness is of no use to his fellow soldiers, power armor or not). It is interesting that even though this power armor should have theoretically leveled the playing field for all body types, the film’s depiction of lightly armored traditional ground troopers had far more diversity.

The book also seems a bit dated in its conception of soldier motivation, as Rico at one point opines that there is no greater motivation for a group of M.I.s than knowing that on every combat drop, a ship full of women is waiting behind, both depending on them and watching their backs. The idea of a female M.I., or even an M.I. who is not particularly interested in the affections of a woman, is really not even contemplated.

But, when I read a book from another time period, I believe that it is healthier to both a) accept that the book exists as a manifestation of the time period in which it was written, and b) the author’s view points are not my own, and that is OK. I understand that this particular book was controversial even when it was released for some social ideas suggested throughout the narrative, including military sovereignty in government and the nobility self-sacrifice for the betterment of society. I take these ideas as the suggestions of the characters in the book, nothing more.

In other small negatives, some readers may turned off by relatively dry passages explaining the complexities of Federation military organization and the operation of the M.I. power armor. I personally found the military rankings a bit dense hard to follow, and I consider myself somewhat interested in the subject (although I am also fairly unschooled in general real-world military rankings and procedures).

In sum, I think this was a really interesting read. I give it 4/5 stars!

Have you read this book? Let me know what you think!

 

Game Review: Vault-Tec Workshop (Fallout 4 DLC)

Originally posted on Geeks and Geeklets

fallout_4_vault-tec_workshop_add-on_packaging

Title: Vault-Tec Workshop (Fallout 4 DLC)

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Platforms: PS4, XBox One, PC

Release Dates: July 26, 2016

Genre: Action RPG

Players: Single player

ESRB Rating: M

Kid Friendly Rating: 17+ Ultra-violence, gore, swearing, sadistic activities.

Personal Rating: 3/5

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Synopsis:

Bethesda’s Fifth DLC for Fallout 4 is an interesting one. Once the wastleland wanderer reaches Level 20, they detect a new radio beacon. Tuning to this frequency triggers the start of the DLC. The beacon draws the wanderer to a vault buried beneath Quincy Quarries.

Upon arriving at the Quarries, the wanderer must fight their way through a horde of Raiders and heavy rads before arriving at the underground vault entrance for Vault 88. Once inside the vault, the wanderer meets Overseer Barstow, a ghoul who claims she was appointed overseer of Vault 88 long ago, but due to a series of mishaps and delays, the vault never properly got underway. In the intervening years, the Vault caverns have become overrun with all manner of wasteland creatures, including feral ghouls, mirelurks, molerats, and deathclaws.

Barstow tasks the wanderer with clearing out the vault caverns so that the vault can be inhabited and put to its original purpose, which was (according to Barstow) to conduct “experiments” on the vault dwellers.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a handful of story missions included in this DLC, as I was expecting nothing more than a brief “Hello,” and “Here are your vault tools. Have fun!” All told, there are eight missions here:

  • Vault-Tec Calling
  • Better Living Underground
  • A Model Citizen
  • Explore Vault 88
  • Power to the People
  • The Watering Hole
  • Vision of the Future
  • Lady Luck

Unfortunately, only the first four missions include what I would regard as substantive content (i.e. missions involving core gameplay action, like shooting bad guys and looting containers). The final four missions basically boil down to teaching tools for how to run the “experimental” vault facilities.

There’s no getting around the fact that this DLC contains, in large part, a bunch of “fluff,” as one of my co-wrkers would put it. For longtime Fallout gamers who have been turned off by the extensive people-managing and crafting found in Fallout 4, this will be disappointing overall. It contains a lot of it, and even the core gameplay pieces are mixed in with some tedious bits.

My gameplay falls somewhere in the middle. I enjoy the crafting, and I take a perverse pleasure in stripping down a settlement to its bare bones in a materials-gathering frenzy. The building of things, not so much. So why strip things down if I don’t like building much? BECAUSE I HAS SO MUCH MANY MATERIALS.

There is plenty to tear down in the vault tunnels, so lots to scratch that itch, and along the way, the wanderer encounters a fair amount of high-level foes, like legendary ghouls, a mirelurk queen, a deathclaw king, etc. That stuff is fun if you like the game overall. But, the DLC tails off in a collection of Sims-like activities, until finally the wanderer is presented with the vault, to use as sort of a blank canvas. This is where it loses me. And I’m not sure I’ll go back. But it was fun while it lasted!

A quick tip… The wanderer will find Vault 88 equipped with a pretty hardcore amount of power, but there is no obvious way to access it. Bethesda is amazing at not explaining things. They’re pretty much the best at it. The power is in the vault walls. All you need to do is install a vault conduit in the wall to access it. HOWEVER, in their infinite wisdom, the level designers did not provide power to wall pieces already installed in the vault. So you’ll need to strip down everything in the atrium and rebuild it before you can use it. Notice I said atrium. You can’t conduit the walls in the vault entrance, even though they have lights. Don’t ask me why.

Book Review: Tarzan of the Apes

tarzan-cover

Title: Tarzan of the Apes

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs

Published: 1914

Pages: 279

Genre: Action/Adventure

Kid Friendly Rating: 11+ Parents may (or may not be) surprised to learn that the original work contains considerably more violence and racism than expected for a pop-culture touchstone. Click here for the Common Sense Media Guide!

Synopsis:

A cruel twist of fate cursed the English lord John Clayton and his pregnant wife to be stranded in the wild jungle of the southern African coast, with little hope of rescue. Miraculously, the young couple gives birth to a healthy baby boy, but further tragedy strikes, and the child is left alone, abandoned and parent-less.

When a grieving mother ape happens upon the young boy, she adopts him as her own, names him Tarzan, and raises him among the ape tribe. As Tarzan grows both in stature and intelligence, he begins to question his place in the world. In his adulthood, a chance meeting with a marooned group of English people sets Tarzan upon a course of self-discovery, heroism, and romance.

Final Thoughts:

Typically, I would hesitate to write a review for a hundred-year-old book, but as I read this one, I couldn’t help but notice that this book either directly or indirectly inspired many of the massive summer blockbusters and comic books of today. Tarzan of the Apes predates the late 1930’s debuts of popular DC comics like Superman and Batman by over a quarter century. While he is not the first “superhero,” having been predated at least by Spring-heeled Jack, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Burroughs’ own John Carter of Mars, he is certainly among the earliest and most enduring literary hero figures.

But is Tarzan truly a superhero in the traditional sense? The answer, to me, is unequivocally yes. Tarzan’s abilities manifest at two different levels, depending on his company. Among the apes, he is physically outmatched, but he is as quick and agile as any ape due to both his quick reflexes and his ability to process information quickly. His advanced mental acuity saves him from several sticky situations with rival apes. This first occurs when, as a child, he teaches himself how to swim, to the astonishment of other apes who are typically afraid of water. The divide between man and ape irrevocably widens when Tarzan discovers knives and rope, and quickly becomes the most fearsome hunter in the jungle.

It takes other humans to arrive in the jungle for Tarzan and the reader to realize his superiority over fellow man. While Tarzan’s intellect and intuition still appears remarkably strong (although raw) among other humans, his real advantage over other people is his prodigious strength, coupled with his intimate knowledge of the jungle animals and tribes. Fellow characters observe Tarzan’s incredible strength and grace with awe, as Tarzan rescues people time and again. At one point, Captain Dufranne, a hardened sailor in his own right, refers to Tarzan as a “superman,” long before this word entered the popular lexicon.

Of course, as with any superhero story, there are moments that defy logic for the benefit of the narrative. Tarzan rather improbably teaches himself to read, progressing from observing “little bugs” in children’s books he finds to becoming a rather adept reader before he ever meets an Englishman. Despite being unable to understand spoken English, he somehow manages to piece together how to spell “Tarzan,” the name given him by his ape mother.

Nevertheless, it is very easy to overlook these little details for what is a very readable and interesting story. Burroughs excels at describing tense moments of action in vivid detail. Tarzan’s jungle fights are violent, bloody, and merciless. As action abounds throughout the story, it is mostly fast-paced, although it takes a few chapters for the narrative to really hit its stride.

Some readers may be turned off by a few racist passages, particularly regarding Jane Porter’s servant Esmeralda, and the African tribe that frequently runs afoul of Tarzan in his adventures, but the story is not aggressively racist. These brief moments largely seem to be a product of the less-enlightened time in which the book was written.

Overall, I found this book to be a truly enjoyable read. For me, this was the type of surprise, in terms of the readability and action, that keeps me returning to well-known older books periodically. These books are just sitting out there, waiting to be read, for free! You never know what you might fall in love with.

I give it 4/5 stars.

The book is available to read for free at Project Gutenberg; free Audiobook versions at Gutenberg and Librivox; and if you have a Kindle or the Kindle reader, you can find a free no-hassle version onAmazon.

Tarzan of the Apes is set for yet another movie adaptation, this one a live-action release scheduled for July 1, 2016, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, and Christoph Waltz. Read the original work now so you can watch it come to life!

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Chapter 4: Bad Dogs

Amy grasped desperately at the right hip pocket of her jacket as she shuffled backward from the dogs.

Her mind was frantic as she drew up blank after blank in a vain attempt to search herself for some type of expertise on violent dogs. Instead, she found only unhelpful fear-filled memories, like the time she was ten and she was cornered by a Rottweiler on the way home from her neighbor’s tennis court. Every time she tried to move past it, the dog growled and tracked her, until finally, miraculously, the dog was called home by its out-of-sight owner.

But she was an innocent, unarmed child then, not the hardened road warrior that she now imagined herself when she waxed romantic in quiet moments. Well, her romanticism was draining quickly as the four dogs continued their slow approach and Amy’s shaking, icy fingers failed to find purchase on the tiny metal zipper.

“Fuck these fucking zipper pockets,” Amy muttered.

The growling, blood-speckled Retriever took a slow, yet eager step forward as it observed Amy’s growing frustration. With his reddened, mangy coat, bared teeth, and raised hackles, it was an intimidating sight, in stark contrast to the playful, obedient Retrievers Amy had fed years ago under friends’ kitchen tables. She almost had to laugh at the juxtaposition, and she wondered, dumbfounded at what must have befallen the dog to render it thus.

The Shepherd and the Lab continued to slowly work at flanking her to her left and right, respectively, while the Pit Bull held back slightly, between the Shepherd and the Retriever, appearing to wait for Amy to make a move before springing into the attack.

Amy gave up on the revolver and began to work her left shoulder out of the strap of her backpack, which was inconveniently slung over the old .22 bolt action rifle she carried across her back. That was a mistake she told herself she’d never repeat.

Just as she worked her shoulder free, the Retriever lunged at her right leg with a snarl.

Amy jumped backward as she let the right shoulder strap slide down her arm, and in one single motion, she grabbed the pack with both hands and swung upward at the dog with all of the force she could muster.

She missed the direct hit she’d hoped for, but the backpack was heavily weighted with several bottles of water, cans of soup and vegetables, and other miscellaneous supplies. It clipped the dog’s snout with enough force to snap its mouth shut with a whimper. The dog shook its head and stared intently at the snow, briefly dazed.

The Shepherd, Lab, and Pit Bull froze, apparently startled by the sudden turn of events, and all three watched the Retriever for its reaction before moving.

Amy didn’t wait for more action. She was already turning with her swing, tromping up the street through the sickly, grey snow with as much speed as she could muster.

It was only a few seconds before the Retriever gathered its senses and launched itself after its prey with vigor, now incensed by Amy’s attack. The other three dogs followed suit, a bit more cautiously.

Though Amy’s escape was hindered by the snow, the dogs also had difficulty building any momentum over the terrain, as their small paws frequently broke through the top layer of snow and dropped them nearly face-first into the wretched substance. Still, Amy’s agility was no match for the dogs, and they were closing ground quickly.

Amy ran for the nearest door without thinking. To her right, just 15 feet away, was a glass storefront under a sign that read, CJ’s Smoke Shop. It was one of those pillars of community that showed its great respect for its customers by virtue of a steel-cage lined display.

She yanked at the handle on the front entrance. Locked.With no hope of breaking into the store through the front windows, Amy immediately turned left, up the street, away from the direction from whence the dogs had appeared.

CJ’s storefront ended abruptly in this direction; the severe two-story retail building and sidewalk giving way to an open yard and a weather-beaten red Victorian with white and green trim. There were several broken windows in the the wide second story, but that was fine. She didn’t need it to be airtight and well-insulated, she just needed to keep the damn dogs out. The ground floor looked secure, as far as Amy could tell. A slight depression in the dirty snow indicated a sidewalk leading up to a three wide steps and a covered porch. The house was set back from the street roughly 30 feet: A small-ish yard under ordinary circumstances, but it seemed like a mile in Amy’s current, frantic state.

Amy’s ongoing fear regarding houses, birthed at the Bauers’ house and reinforced by a handful of subsequent grisly discoveries, was momentarily quelled. She began struggling toward the house without hesitation.

Her departure was not a moment too soon. Just as Amy lurched toward the house, the Shepherd chomped hard at her left leg, but it found only air, and skittered past her into the storefront with a crash.

Amy whipped around, backpack flying in a low arc aimed to keep the dog on the ground. Instead of finding the Shepherd, the backpack caught the oncoming Lab in the left shoulder just as it was rounding around toward her at the Shepherd’s heels. The impact and the dog’s already-compromised center of balance launched the dog sideways, directly into the Shepherd.

The two dogs struggled to untangle themselves from each other as Amy spun back toward the house. As she did so, she glimpsed both the Retriever and Pit Bull working their way toward her. The Retriever was in the lead, fangs bared in a deadly grimace.

Amy shuddered as she turned back toward the house. She pushed her out of shape body as hard as it was capable, but she simply wasn’t going anywhere fast. It was her worst nightmare: caught in a deadly chase but unable to make any speed.

15 feet to go. The door still seemed so far away. Amy’s legs were burning unfairly as the blood-crazed dogs chased her. She could hear the Retriever’s ragged breath as it drew nearer. Close now. Too close.

Ten feet. Her legs were numb, running only on fear and a depleting measure of adrenaline.

Five feet. She was almost there. I’m going to make it, she thought. Please, God. Let it be unlocked.

The thought was barely out of her head when she heard the Retriever’s jaws snap shut just inches from her left ankle. With a scream, she half-jumped sideways while she stumbled forward the remaining distance to the stairs. But she was off-balance now, and she had neither the time nor the presence of mind to right her ship, and she went crashing sideways into the steps.

In an instant, the Retriever was on top of her, lunging at her face. Amy shoved her forearm at the dog in an act of self-preservation, and the dog clamped down on it, harder than she thought possible. It whipped its head back and forth, and with a tearing sound, the arm of Amy’s jacket was loose, and the dog stumbled a half step away from her. Amy kicked at it and scrambled backward up the steps, crab-style.

Suddenly, her back was at the door of the house, and she fumbled at the doorknob. It wouldn’t budge.

With growing horror, Amy looked back at the Retriever, who knew his prey was trapped, and approached slowly. Just on the other side of the Retriever, she could see the Pit Bull rushing in to join the fight, and beyond it, the Lab and Shepherd closing in as well.

Amy couldn’t believe she’d survived the end of the world, only to be offed by some fucking domestic dogs off their leashes. She scrunched up her eyes as she heard the Pit Bull growl its threat at her.

A second later, she heard snarls and scuffling from the Pit Bull and the Retriever, but the noises were not drawing any closer.

Amy opened her eyes, and was surprised to see the Pit Bull and Retriever locked in combat. Shaking, she rose to her feet, and shook the door knob in earnest, trying in vain to get through the door.

After a moment of resistance, Amy felt the knob slide in her grip, and, to her amazement, the door admitted her into a dark interior. Amy whipped inside and slammed the door shut behind her, throwing the deadbolt as she did so. She turned and fell backward against the door, gasping and sobbing with relief.

(Originally posted on Geeks and Geeklets)

(Bad) Movie Review: San Andreas

(Originally posted on Geeks and Geeklets)

TLDR: Watch for irony only.

sanandreas

Title: San Andreas

Director: Brad Peyton

Release Date: May 29, 2015

Genre: Action/Sci-Fi

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 114 minutes

Starring:

● Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

● Carla Gugino

● Alexandra Daddario

● Paul Giamatti

Kid Friendly Rating: 14+. The movie features a violent earthquake and all of the associated blood, death, and otherwise scary scenarios. Click here for the Parent Rating Guide!

Personal Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

In the latest mega-budget apocalyptic movie, a massive earthquake has struck the San Andreas fault and laid waste to California from San Francisco to Las Angeles. Will The Rock save his marriage, his daughter, and the WORLD? Can you smell-el-el-el-el-el what The Rock is cooking?

Pictures:

sanadreasdaddario sanandreas-giammatti sanandreasrock sanandreasteens

 

Final Thoughts:

Brad Peyton is the latest in a long line of directors to bring your real-world worldwide disaster fears to the big screen. These types of movies have a checkered past. From the historically-based (A Perfect Storm, Apollo 13, The Impossible) to the freaking crazy (2012, The Core, The Day After Tomorrow) to the vaguely plausible (Twister, Armageddon… everyone knows roughnecks make the best astronauts, Independence Day …we all agree aliens are real and will attack us, right?), these movies range from great to historically bad.

Fortunately, the viewer usually does not have to be terribly discerning to separate the decent movies from the utter, complete crap. Aaron Eckhardt was great in Thank You for Smoking and The Dark Knight, so The Core must be pretty good, right? No? Crud. Well, all children of the 80’s know John Cusack does great movies, so 2012 was a can’t-miss. Right? Foiled again!

Fortunately, patient reader, you have knauff13 to guide you through this minefield of turds.

Might as well start with the director who guided this slag heap through the finish line. Brad Peyton was the obvious choice for a big-budget action thriller, based on his overwhelming success with such vaunted flicks as, um, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010). Not a joke. I could probably stop right there. Seriously, everyone, someone in Hollywood is making these spending decisions. Why can’t it be you, instead? It’s hard to really tell whether the story faltered by Peyton’s ham-handed touch, or at the direction of an unforgiveable script, but either way. This is the man that put it all together for ya.

***Spoiler Alert*** I especially liked the part at the end, where a gigantic American flag materializes and gets unfurled above San Francisco in a shameless attempt to manipulate American pride in place of quality storytelling. Peyton, however, decided the viewers might not quite get the symbolism and decided to smash them across the face with it once more, as Carla Gugino asks The Rock, “What will we do now?” The Rock gazes across a ravaged landscape and solemnly intones, “Now, we rebuild.” HA! The Rock will fix everything! USA! USA!

Dwayne Johnson (I’ll give him the benefit of his chosen moniker from here out because I don’t actually dislike him) is mostly likeable as a leading man, but placing him in a role requiring some dramatic range does expose his limitations. I think somewhere in his stoic demeanor, I was supposed to detect hints of alarm for a daughter in grave danger, sadness over a long-deceased second child, and wistful regret over a marriage that failed in the wake of said lost child. Did I say Johnson is good at being stoic? The scenes requiring Johnson to act the conquering hero were believable, occasionally, but if the viewer wants any sign of emotion from a father in extreme distress, it’s not here.

And, last, but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this movie’s painful objectification of women. Look, I know it happens, even sometimes subconsciously, but this is bad even by Hollywood’s low standards. Within the first few frames of the movie, we see Alexandra Daddario in a bikini, for absolutely no narrative reason whatsoever. Later, as Daddario and her companions fight their way through the wreckage of San Francisco she literally strips off her clothing to fight through the earthquakes. Not making that up. Look at the pictures above for the before and after. The kid has managed to keep his jacket AND shoulder bag. The young man’s shirt has come untucked to show that he’s been through a scuffle. Daddario has lost two different tops in the same time. Weird. It really is a shame, because Daddario’s character is written as a remarkably savvy survivor who often puts her fellow male companions to shame.

I like Carla Gugino as an actress a lot. She’s better than this movie allows. That being said, there is a scene involving Gugino as the lone survivor of a collapsing building. She scrabbles madly and across shifting concrete and girders, finally jumping to her safety in a helicopter. In HEELS! Why??

All told, if you’re looking for a big blockbuster-type movie, you can do far better. Go rent The Martian instead.