Movie Review: ‘San Andreas’
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti
Plot: An unprecedented level earthquake strikes southern California, beginning by tumbling the Hoover Dam and proceeding to wreck L.A. and San Fransisco. One rescue worker sets out on a seemingly impossible mission to save his wife and daughter from the chaos.
Review: Some men just want to watch the world burn…and when the blockbuster season rolls around it seems that everyone does. A solid disaster movie will always bring the crowds. As a community we take a strange joy is seeing the greatest achievements of man being reduced to rubble and ash. We’ll spend hours building a perfectly functional city in Sim City just for the satisfaction of watching Godzilla reduced it to rubble. In between 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, which raised the stakes to the level of full scale armageddon, you’d think we’d have gotten our fill of these flicks, but they’re still getting made.
Dwayne Johnson stars as a rescue helicopter pilot who proves his worth in the opening scene by effortlessly ripping a car door off to save a girl and Arsenal from Arrow. In spite of this he plays more of a family man in this adventure, facing the obstacles between him and his trapped daughter. Carla Gugino plays his estranged wife who needs a quick rescue before joining the team. If you’re at all familiar with the genre formula then you can walk into this with a checklist and tick off every space except the dog.
In terms of spectacle, the movie delivers. Some may tire of the saturation of CGI in action movies, especially after the practical effects and stunt heavy Mad Max: Fury Road proved that we still love the classic techniques, and there’s plenty of green screen utilised here. If you want to see a city undulating as the ground ripples and cracks, skyscrapers collapse to dust and a couple of monuments get shredded then this delivers. Film-makers have cottoned on to the fact that we’re no longer going to be in awe of CGI for CGI’s sake, and they squeeze a number of exciting moments from the action.
The film is with plenty of faults. Character and story are non-existent, and the coincidences used to shuttle the action from one set-piece to the next stretch the sense of belief. The carnage is strangely neat, keeping this a largely family friendly fare. We see plenty of people dropping off buildings but never any bodies, and aside from a couple of wounded on the streets we don’t see anyone especially hurt, let alone dying. Even impalements and crushed legs generate a small trickle of blood. The CGI budget has been pumped into falling glass and buckling skyscrapers, but some of the landscapes make everything look like a poorly scaled model.
Paul Giamatti, bringing the most respectability to the cast, may as well have been in another movie. He has zero impact on the other characters or even the story as a whole. His circumstances have no stakes or risk. It’s standard for these movies to have the genius who people ignored, and there’s a scene where he complains that no-one listened to him, but at the same time we never saw him telling anyone about the coming quakes. His whole thing is that he can predict the quakes but at best he offers a five minutes warning. That’s barely enough time to get your shoes on and get out the front door
With all of that said, if you’ve enjoyed switching off and enjoying pornographic level disaster movies of the Emmerich style in the past then you’ll enjoy the time spend on this one. It’s much more fun than the previous Into the Storm, and manages to get the heart races from time to time. Check it out if it’s your thing.
Rating: SIX out of TEN