Posted May 29, 2015 by Daniel Hodgson in
A conventional, average, forgettable but fun entry in the genre. It’s a fairly exciting movie, yet isn’t worth getting excited about.
The disaster film comes in two flavors. The human drama, and the big dumb action movie. San Andreas is the latter type.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. San Andreas is about stimulating the adrenal glands rather than the intellect, and at that, it has some success.
The film stars Dwayne Johnson, who previously collaborated with the film’s director Brad Peyton on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Carla Gugino portrays his wife Emma, who is divorcing him. Alexandra Daddario plays their 20-year-old daughter, Blake. Daddario has enough babe-factor to star in a Michael Bay movie, and the first shot of her displays the actress in a swimsuit, sunbathing by the pool of her soon-to-be stepfather, Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd), the head of an architectural firm.
If you’re losing your wife to another guy, a severe earthquake is the best thing that can happen to you. That way, she can see 1) how much she needs you, especially if you’re a rescue-helicopter pilot, and 2) how much of a jerk the new-guy is. Ray (Johnson) is the kind of guy who risks himself to save others, and Daniel, well, you’ll see…
It’s a strange experience to watch a movie and share the same first name as one of the film’s characters (particularly when it’s the film’s villain). I suppose guys named John are more used to this, but I digress.
Archie Panjabi portrays a TV journalist, who shows up when exposition is needed. She accompanies Ray on a rescue mission in the film’s opening sequence, and shows up soon after at Cal-Tech, where a geophysics professor, Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) explains what’s going to happen: a massive earthquake will tear San Francisco apart.
The quake hits. Ray is on the phone with Emma when it does, and spends the rest of San Andreas trying to rescue her and then their daughter. The earthquake serves as a vehicle for the family to reunite, and provides a chance for Ray to redeem himself, having failed to rescue their youngest daughter years earlier.
There’s plenty of action for fans of destruction porn. The Hoover Dam crumbles when an unknown fault line triggers. Buildings collapse. People panic in the streets. Ray crash lands his helicopter, races a boat up a tsunami wave, and parachutes out of a plane. The action is fairly exciting, rendered in state-of-the art special effects.
The dialog, though, is not so special. It’s dumb, really dumb. No one has time to be smart, though. There’s a constant need to run from danger and get to safety. No time to stop and think. San Andreas is swiftly paced, as it should be.
To its credit, the story allows everyone to contribute in some way and solve problems. Although a damsel-in-distress at first, Blake proves herself to take after her father, showing resourcefulness in a crisis. She’s becomes the leader of a trio of survivors, with love interest Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his kid brother Ollie (Art Parkinson) following her through the chaos. Ben rescues her early on when she’s trapped in a car, and Ollie helps Ben get her phone number, which is as far as I’m concerned a legitimate contribution.
San Andreas is a conventional, average, forgettable but fun entry in the genre. It’s not going to be anyone’s favorite movie, or most hated; it’s too bland to be either one. It’s a fairly exciting movie, yet isn’t worth getting excited about. It merits a matinee viewing, being spectacle entertainment, and the 3D surcharge is worth splurging for but isn’t necessary. In a word, heh.