San Andreas (12a)
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario
Running time: 114mins
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.
Ok, here’s the deal: San Andreas in by no means a bad movie. In fact, it’s actually prety good in certain places and aspects.
But we’ll get to that later
To make a disaster movie you need certain archetypes: The Hero – Ray (Johnston), the villain (Daniel – Ioan Gruffudd), the estranged wife who the hero still loves (Gugino), the genius who can same everyone but no-one listens to until it’s almost too late (Paul Giamatti as Lawrence) and the likable love interest (Hugo Johnstone – Burt as Ben) and the loveable, slightly cheeky kid (Art Parkinson as Ollie).
Once you have all of them present and correct, you’re good to go. And one thing San Andreas does is go…
The premise is a simple one, The San Andras Fault experiences a massive earthquake… that causes the whole coast to tremor. Not only does it tremor but it’s the largest quake on record, it’s repetitive and there’s no plan B.
Johnson’s character is as fleshed out as he needs to be; his ex-wife (Gugino), who he still loves, is settling with a new guy (Guffudd) who – surprise surprise – is a bit of a scumbag. She plans on moving in with him, taking their daughter (Daddario) with them but on the same day that the mother and daughter are both near the San Andreas fault, they get caught up in the collapsing buildings and, needless to say, it’s left to The Rock helicopter-flying rescue guy to save them both… and it’s got an extra emotional punch too that we learn about as the movie goes on.
So, here’s the thing, to say the movie is bad is very unfair. I knew when I put the blu-ray what exactly this was; I knew what I would get and I could tell who would live, who would die and how it would turn out.
And I was right… but not disappointed.
It’s big, silly fun. Johnston is always entertaining and even turns in an effectively emotional punch in one scene that is almost lost in among all the death and destruction. The support actors all also fill their roles admirably… Giamatti is always a delight and Dadarrio is smart, sexy and wears a pretty low-cut top which director Peyton wants us to admire towards the end as she jumps on the spot for a couple of minutes (!) and swims – trust me.
But where the movie really shines is the special effects. While there is admittedly an unabashed disregard for human life as millions must surely be dead in the event – it’s OK because The Rock saves his family – there’s no taking away from the spectacle which is jaw-droppingly awesome.
It easily out does any disaster movie that has gone before for pure photo-reality and, to be fair, when you see a movie where San Francisco is destroyed in an earthquake, you want to see and feel the punch… and it delivers. There hasn’t been intercity destruction like this since Man of Steel.
However, one thing did occur to me while watching – and guilty-pleasurely enjoying – if someone put the spectacle onscreen AND gave us the well-developed characters and unexpected events, you could be looking at a near-perfect cinematic experience.
Overall very fun but utterly forgettable, San Andreas is the cinematic equivalent of a one-night stand: immensely enjoyable while it’s happening but you may not remember much of it tomorrow.
3 out of 5 Nerds