Earthquake - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Earthquake Reviews

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½ December 18, 2013
You know, I think I'll start things out by borrowing Charlton Heston's famous quote from the 1968 classic Planet of The Apes and apply it to the movie I'm currently writing about. "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty quake!" ahh, couldn't resist. Heston is just one of the big name stars featured (a large cast takes precedent over this film) in Earthquake, a 1970's disaster flick that depicts the biggest, most destructive natural disaster to ever hit the city of Los Angeles.

Of course you know what I'm talking about. The title of the film says it all. It is a somewhat effective exercise in that there is a strong sense of realism for its subject. "Quake" shows mass destruction and carnage in a way in which I believe things would actually go down in a crisis situation. Truth be told, its got spectacular special effects that surely don't need the CGI stuff. But I'm not gonna sugarcoat it for you; this is a very depressing movie. Call it cinema of the antihero kind if you will. The characters in Earthquake are mostly unlikable. Most of them don't have many redeeming values and the ones that do have them actually die. Added to that, "Quake" doesn't have much of a happy ending. In fact, it doesn't really have an ending at all. You don't really know if everyone is truly okay, who really survived, and who didn't. The movie leaves the question opened that maybe the plight of everyone involved might suffer another small aftershock or tremor after the credits roll. Alas, this is something that is left up to the viewer's imagination.

When you watch this 1974 picture, you'll find that it is split into three standard acts. This first is character development, or should I say getting to know the whole cast (George Kennedy, Ava Gardner, and Victoria Principal just to name a few). The second act is the earthquake sequence which for me, is the most effective part (it lasts a good ten minutes, it's brutal and graphic in detail, and it's very well done). Then there is the third act which shows the aftermath of destruction (or aftershocks, hint hint) and how the people in the city deal with the sadness of L.A. in ruins.

Another aspect you'll notice when watching Earthquake is how the MPAA ratings board was so forgiving in handing this thing a PG rating. Along with the graphic violent images that accompany the film (a handful of people perish in an elevator scene and it's a doozy) there is a lot of adult themes (mild drug use, suggested inappropriate language, adultery, attempted rape) that would ultimately disturb or turn off a lot of younger viewers in the PG rated crowd. Then there is the cringe worthy moments that truly don't belong or fit. I mean this in the strongest way. You got a cameo of who I think might be Walter Matthau, getting drunk at a bar and falling asleep at every possible moment. He says things like, "where can I get a drink in this place?" and calls out random actor's names (Peter Fonda for example). When the quake hits and everything is being destroyed around him, he continues to drink his whiskey shots and act like a buffoon. It's a comedic element thrown in and an unnecessary one at that. Also, after the strongest jolts of the quake, when everybody is dying and suffering in a random L.A. hospital, there is a clown character that goes around and tries to make people laugh by doing clown tricks. Believe it or not, there are actually people laughing nervously. I almost had to turn the DVD off. It's the movie equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

While I'm a sucker for disaster movies in general, I am going to give a mixed review on Earthquake. It's effective in the special effects department but that doesn't compensate for a mediocre script and less than stellar acting. Truthfully, it's hard to care about the people in this movie even when harmful things happen to them. They aren't underdeveloped, they are just unlikable. I don't know if this was the director's vision, you know to make something that's not by Hollywood's standards. But nevertheless, this method doesn't bode entirely well on screen. As I said earlier, the script is problematic in that while it's heavy on detail and protocol for people involved in a natural disaster, there is an emotional center missing and it costs this film a shot at greatness. I guess it's frustrating when you have to imagine what happens to a character when a scene cuts away right before learning their fate. An example would be Richard Roundtree (playing Miles Quade) driving his motorcycle away from an exploding dam of water caused by the seismic burst. Right as the gushing water threatens to drown him, the camera cuts to something else and we never see or hear from him again. Then there is the character of Walter Russell (played by Kip Niven). This guy discovers the threat of the quake, tells his superiors (including the mayor) to warn everybody and then that's it. 30-40 minutes into the film and we also never see or hear from him again. This, along with the cringe worthy moments mentioned earlier in the review, make it very difficult to garner my recommendation. All in all, you desperately root for this film to be great, you really do. But you surrender to its misguided approach. And that's the kiss of death for me as a movie critic.

With all that being said, there is a positive note to observe when watching this past box office blockbuster. No one and I mean no one, looks cooler in dark sunglasses than the late Charlton Heston.
November 14, 2013
I have to admit it...I love watching disaster films. This one has everything in it but the kitchen sink, and that was just because I missed seeing it among the destruction that this movie brings on! Even by today's standards, the visual effects are pretty good. I was even more blown away by the fact that Mario Puzo..you know, that "Godfather" author, was one of the writer of the screenplay. Like most disaster films, this one is not subtle....thank God for that! Shut the brain off for 2 hours and enjoy.
½ October 16, 2013
A ridiculously bad one dimensional film that's really fun to watch for all the bad reasons.

However excluding bad acting & non relatable characters this film has some terrific special effects that are incredibly convincing & much been than the over saturated CGI films of today.

My favourite bad moment hands down was the scene when staff flock into an elevator (as one does in an earthquake) and it plummets 30 floor you hear these screams then animated blood splatters on the camera classic!

This is a tragedy of film re: acting & story telling but it's fun & easy to laugh at...
October 15, 2013
Charlton Heston in yet another 70s disaster movie, some of the film, especially the rescue from the tower block after the shock is very Towering inferno, but the special effects are very good, Must have taken quite a bit of work to build all those sets, Ava Gardner is an added treat as is Richard Roundtree, Even if his acting skills out number his clear ego, enjoyable film built around the cast, And will that Dam burst? Nobody does 70s like this , it is a genre piece to cherish
October 14, 2013
a solid script and a all star cast and good special effects. a good film though a bit of a let down
August 11, 2013
einer der klassischen 70er katastrophenfilme
½ May 27, 2013
A mediocre movie that doesn't work because of lazy writing, cheesy situations, and lopsided performances.
May 19, 2013
Saw this movie on Fri I must say for its age it has weathered well plenty of action
½ May 15, 2013
A classic 70's disaster film.
April 22, 2013
could also be interesting but the stories that form do not develop properly
April 17, 2013
This is a tough one to love among the disaster genre. Ava Gardner caracter as
Lorne Greene`s daugther was hard to take and the Mario Puzo screen play was so cut that I wonder what was originally in that. The sen-surround effects should`ve been a great experience at the time and I`ve decided that I love all the disaster movies from the 1970`s, therefore, this one is no exemption at all.
December 7, 2012
Could be worth watching. Will find and devour with my eyes!
½ December 1, 2012
This got bad reviews?? This is the epitome of camp classics. Probably the most entertaining of all the 1970s disaster flicks. Pure fun!
½ November 24, 2012
I think if we were back in 1974, I would have loved this movie. However, watching it now I wasn't that impressed. Watching this I felt it had some 'made-for-tv' qualities to it.

I think the fact that it had such a great cast, carried it through.
October 29, 2012
MOTHER NATURE IS HAVING A TEMPTER TANTRUM!!!
½ October 27, 2012
Los Angeles is levelled by a devastating earthquake. The disaster scenes are well done but the highlight here is Charlton Heston railing against his profession (engineer) for not constructing buildings that would withstand a major quake.
September 24, 2012
The pinicale 1970s disaster movie ~ not a classic but it does have entertainment value
September 17, 2012
Earthquake strikes LA in another Hollywood disaster epic with usual all-star cast. Heston's edge-of-divorce character seems awfully similar to his role in AIRPORT 75 (released within a month of each other). Special effects of quake sequence is a highlight, as is a moment of heavy-handedness when Heston expresses shame of his profession for building 40-storey monstrosities in a quake zone.
September 14, 2012
When an enormous earthquake strikes LA, entertainment makes its entrance. What this movies lacks in plot is definitely made up for with groundbreaking special effects. Who needs CGI? "Earthquake" sports an incredibly realistic disaster sequence using scale models, pyrotechnics, and stuntmen. The first 45 minutes does nothing more than introduce a few characters and kill time before the main event begins, but it is worth the wait for 15 incredible minutes of movie magic. The earthquake is covered from every angle, whether it's the concerned mother, the selfish businessman, the drunk at the bar, or policemen trapped in the station. Victoria Principal's afro is INCREDIBLE and her big innocent eyes make her a great victim - her disaster sequence is fairly awkward but the aforementioned attributes still make it decent. Perhaps the most realistic part of this movie is that nobody sports superhuman strength. Instead of a hero saving everybody in the city, it comes down to the common man to help out the people around him. The characters begin in a weakened state as a result of the earthquake and then every physically demanding rescue takes its toll on them. I know that a lot of people put this movie down but I thoroughly enjoyed it, though next time I would just fast-forward to the first earthquake sequence.
September 12, 2012
this is extremely cliche, although it probably wasn't for the time. loud explosions and clunky special effects are the main source of drama in this uncharacteristicly boring disaster movie. there are too many coincidental set-ups to make this even the tiniest bit believable. a shambles of a film.
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