San Andreas vs. Baywatch. Let’s settle this.
Memorial Day Weekend is a time to celebrate sacrifice, freedom, and the best humanity has to offer. It’s also quickly becoming a time to celebrate films that capture depictions of sacrifice, freedom, and the best humanity has to offer embodied in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Alexandra “I don’t know if she has a nickname” Daddario.
Let’s compare 2015’s disaster porn San Andreas and 2017’s beach porn Baywatch and try to determine the Ultimate Johnson / Daddario Memorial Day Movie.
San Andreas is the story of a major earthquake that essentially destroys California. Johnson stars as Raymond Gaines, some sort of SEAL Team Six LA Fire Department James Bond. Daddario plays Blake Gaines, Raymond’s daughter who has learned how to be MacGyver from her father.
While Daddario spends the movie using her survival skills and trying to find higher ground in San Fransisco, Johnson flies planes and helicopters and drives boats through buildings trying to get to her. Thousands of people die, and entire cities are destroyed, yet The Rock is completely uninjured and, at one point, saves an entire group of people by determining where a building is going to fall.
Baywatch is a reboot of the ’90’s TV franchise about lifeguards who are also the ultimate crime-fighting team. Johnson plays iconic Mitch Buchannon, who is compared to Batman but browner in the first five minutes of the film. Daddario stars as lifeguard recruit Summer Quinn who, well, she’s Zac Efron’s love interest and not much else. She does bounce up and down because it’s part of a completely relevant plot discussion about her boobs.
While investigating drugs that have washed ashore, the lifeguards uncover a criminal enterprise that involves murder and, gasp, closing the beach! They infiltrate the morgue, parties and chase bad guys all over the bay, even after the police tell them not to.
Winner: Tie (Seriously, do either of these plots make any sense?)
Why So Serious?
San Andreas begins as your typical disaster film. Scientists are being ignored while oblivious tourists go about their business. The film takes itself seriously, to a point, and that comes across in the movie’s tone. While thousands of people are literally dying all over the place, the viewer only cares about the Gaines family. The stakes for them are dire. Everyone else? Screw ‘em.
On the other hand, Baywatch does not take itself seriously, and that’s evident from the moment the lights go down in the theater. Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon is opening the lifeguard tower when disaster strikes. A sudden gust of wind strikes, and a single kite-boarder flies out of control and crashes into the rocks. Johnson springs into action and sprints down the jetty, diving into the water to rescue the unconscious kite-rider. As Johnson pulls him out of the water like a baby in his giant arms, the title card rises behind him. “BAYWATCH” reads across the horizon, and CGI dolphins leap and dance in celebration. It’s as if the movie points at the audience, winks, and says, “let’s do this!”
Rotten Tomatoes Ratings
Ratings can be highly subjective. Snatched earned 37% from critics. Was it a perfect movie? No. But did I enjoy it? Yes. To determine the Ultimate Johnson / Daddario Memorial Day Movie, it’s worth looking at what the critics had to say.
Baywatch earned a 19%, the critical consensus saying, “Baywatch takes its source material’s jiggle factor to R-rated levels, but lacks the original’s campy charm — and leaves its charming stars flailing in the shallows.” Ouch.
On the other hand, San Andreas earned a moderate 48%. The critical consensus said, “San Andreas has a great cast and outstanding special effects, but amidst all the senses-shattering destruction, the movie’s characters and plot prove less than structurally sound.” Not so great.
Winner: San Andreas
Box Office (Opening Weekend)
While critical response can’t always be relied upon to determine how great a movie is, what it takes in at the box office is a good indication. If people enjoy it, they’re going to see it.
San Andreas opened at number one with $54,588,173, or 49.6% of its budget. That’s a successful opening weekend! Baywatch opened at number three with $18,570,000, or 26.9% of its budget. Not so great. San Andreas went on to earn nearly $500 million globally and, while Baywatch will probably do a lot better overseas than it does here, it probably won’t come close to $500 million.
Winner: San Andreas
The Rock’s One-Liners
Seemingly every popcorn action movie Dwayne Johnson is in, there’s a great one-liner. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island has, “It takes a big man to play a tiny guitar” as The Rock pulls out a ukulele to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Furious 7 has, “Daddy’s gotta go to work,” as The Rock shatters his cast by flexing his giant bicep and looking at his daughter. These are great one-liners! How do San Andreas and Baywatch compare?
In San Andreas, Johnson’s character is on a plane flying to San Fransisco. He’s picked up his ex-wife along the way to rescue their daughter. Due to the massive earthquake, there’s nowhere to land. What does The Rock do? Produce a single parachute. They strap in together and jump. Landing on the second base of San Francisco’s AT&T Park, he says, “It’s been a while since I got you to second base.”
In Baywatch, Mitch has just chased a henchman into a little girl’s room. The fight ensues. After destroying the crib, The Rock uses a child’s mobile to choke out the henchmen. The baby picture is declared off-limits. The Rock uses a giant train to hit the henchmen and says, ”You’re going night-night bitch!”
Winner: San Andreas
Would I buy it on iTunes?
This is probably the ultimate test. Would I spend more money to purchase the film on iTunes, providing the ability to watch it for eternity?
Currently, San Andreas is on sale for $14.99. At this price point, I can’t see a compelling reason not to purchase the movie. If it were at the full, $19.99 price, I’d probably say no. But at $14.99, it seems like a good option.
Having just been released, Baywatch is available for pre-order at the full $19.99 rate. I can’t say it’s worth that. Sometimes pre-orders fall into the $14.99 rate, but even then, I probably wouldn’t bite. If Baywatch hit the weekly sale of $9.99, it’d be compelling. If it somehow made the Friday $4.99 sale, no brainer. But it’s not a good buy at $19.99.
Winner: San Andreas
San Andreas is the Ultimate Dwayne Johnson and Alexandra Daddario Memorial Day Movie
Nothing against Baywatch. It is fun and exactly what you think it is, but San Andreas is an all-around better movie. Not only is the action much bigger, but Daddario’s character also has a lot more agency and a role that involves more than looking great in a bathing suit. Dwayne Johnson is great in both films. Honestly, is there anything he isn’t great in? But all things considered, San Andreas wins the Ultimate Crown.
What will the Ultimate Dwayne Johnson and Alexandra Daddario Memorial Day Movie be for 2019? Will we get the rumored San Andreas 2? Perhaps Baywatch 2? Maybe something, where The Rock is the President and Daddario is the First Daughter, and they go on the road to sow seeds of peace through any means necessary in The First Family: Flags of Freedom? Yeah, probably not.