San Andreas. 2015
Directed by Brad Peyton
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Colton Haynes, Matt Gerald, Will Yun Lee and Kylie Minogue
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.
Disaster movies are long gone past their expiration date, but maybe, just maybe you can spark some interest by pairing up Dwayne Johnson and an earthquake. More specifically, an earthquake so devastating it literally cracks the earth in half. Yes, that sounds totally asinine, which is probably why the line delivered by Paul Giamatti didn’t even make it into the final version of San Andreas.
Taking itself seriously however is where San Andreas is sure to lose audiences. The film is admittedly over-the-top but that doesn’t count for much when all that is being shown are skyscraper buildings crumbling apart into ash and dust from overhead perspectives panning all across California. This is disaster porn at its finest, but with little to no imagination or creativity. The only notable scene is a head-on race in a speedboat to clear the crest of a tsunami so towering it swallows up the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Andreas needed more scenes like that along with a barrage of silly dialogue in order to be able to claim itself is an entertaining spectacle of chaos and destruction, but it instead meanders around what people are paying a ticket to see by injecting numerous scenes of characters moping around discussing divorce, the death of an early child, why a relationship fell apart, and so much unimportant, uninteresting garbage that has no place in a movie where the world around them is crumbling.
The movie even has a worthless villain in the form of a soon-to-be stepfather that abandons Dwayne Johnson’s daughter as soon as the tremors hit. He has roughly 5 minutes of screen time in the entire two hour movie, yet we are expected to cheer when he meets his untimely demise in a scene so conveniently random, that instead of feeling a sense of liberation you’re just left thinking to yourself “Oh s***, I forgot this guy was still alive”.
If you are going to sell audiences a disaster movie starring The Rock, it’s probably wise not to have him flying a helicopter doing nothing for the majority of the running time. San Andreas is overstuffed with characters and exposition that it anchors down any sense of enjoyment one could possibly get from watching it. On more than one occasion there are some visually striking glimpses of computer-generated catastrophe, but instead of keeping the tension and momentum going director Brad Peyton jumps right back to Dwayne Johnson and his estranged soon-to-be ex-wife rekindling their love as they are determined to rescue their daughter.
The movie fares a little better when focusing on Dwayne Johnson’s daughter played by Alexandra Daddario, whom is stuck in the thick of the crisis and befriends a pair of English brothers with one being a pre-teenager. Their goal is to reach higher ground as we get to witness the mayhem at ground level, which is subsequently when San Andreas is most fun. Even when Dwayne Johnson is forced to ditch his helicopter and fight for survival while simultaneously helping citizens, some scenes reach a satisfying level of intensity despite the fact that you’re still watching building after building fall apart. It may be impressive the first time but quickly you become numb to the sight, and that’s with the effect of 3D.
To the credit of San Andreas, nothing it does is outright terrible. The major takeaway is that it is a Hollywood manufactured status-quo blockbuster designed to wow moviegoers with special effects and the novelty of Dwayne Johnson hurling himself towards danger to rescue loved ones. It never felt annoying or frustrating to the point where I wanted to stop watching, but my God they could have cut out some of the family drama to keep the pacing on track with nonstop action.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook