We’ve seen it go down like this before.
In the first episode of Apple TV+’s addictive “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,” the regal Golden Gate Bridge appears briefly (in all its landmark glory) only to get smacked around by Godzilla and company. C’mon now. Pick on the Brooklyn Bridge, already.
The GG Bridge, an oft-photographed cue card to inform the audience that a movie or series is set in or near San Francisco, isn’t the only Bay Area cool spot that’s been picked apart and picked on by Hollywood.
So, with the arrival of the 10-episode “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” (the first two episodes dropping Friday and one every week following), we’ve come up with a handful of films in which the Bay Area took it on the chin.
An internet-deprived Berkeley is one of the casualties doled out to the Bay Area in cinematographer Wally Pfister’s 2014 directorial debut “Transcendence,” an ambitious sci-fi failure with a forward-thinking Frankenstein/artificial intelligence plot.
Was it too ahead of its time for audiences? Maybe.
I think its biggest problem is that it needed to better flesh out its characters and storyline. Johnny Depp stars as a hotshot research scientist whose extraordinary mind is being uploaded to a sentient being. “Transcendence” shoehorns great actors, including Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman and Paul Bettany, into underwritten roles and it’s too bad, since the film has potential. The brief bit set in Berkeley looks nothing like the city in question, ringing sadly about as false as the movie itself.
The Golden Gate Bridge and Muir Woods figure prominently in the exceptional “Planet of the Apes” reboot (no, not the feeble 2001 Tim Burton redo with Mark Wahlberg).
All three films — 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and 2017’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” — bat it out of the park with Andy Serkis as Caesar. Director Matt Reeves really outdoes himself in the shattering and complex “War,” one of the best action films of the decade.
The Golden Gate, though, doesn’t fare so well. And if you like getting out and about in Muir Woods, you’ll appreciate “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which spends time there. Fans of the series have something to look forward to, with “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” slated for release on May 24, 2024.
While the mere thought of a massive earthquake may induce panic attacks in Bay Area residents, the 9.1 and 9.6 monster quakes that tear asunder Southern and Northern California, respectively, in 2015’s “San Andreas” induce more laughter than anxiety. Absurdly over the top, director Brad Peyton’s disaster picture features a rescue pilot (Dwayne Johnson) defying every ounce of logic and reason as he tries to save his daughter stuck in San Francisco.
Old-school disaster film guru Irwin Allen could have had a field day with this material, and done it with a little more realism. That said, if you’re in the mood for high camp that features the Rock trying to outrace a tsunami on Jet Skis through a waterlogged San Francisco — a sight you’ll likely never see repeated, wisely —“San Andreas” does have its go-for-broke charms.
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