Weekly Review: San Andreas (2015)

When a series of extreme earthquakes hit the cities and towns along the San Andreas fault, an LAFD Air Rescue pilot risks his own safety in order to save the lives of his wife and daughter.

I’m normally a huge fan of disaster movies. I thought 2012 was fun. The Day After Tomorrow gets my heart racing. I consider Deep Impact to be one of my favorite movies. Needless to say, when I heard about San Andreas, I was pretty darn excited. A new disaster movie that stars Dwayne Johnson? That sounds wonderful. Now that it’s been released on Blu-Ray, I’ve finally gotten to see it.

My overall thought? It’s alright. San Andreas is your typical summer blockbuster which has tons of destruction¬†with a lackluster and predictable story. I’m sure no one went into this movie thinking they were going to see a masterpiece, but it’s gotten its fair share of negative comments from critics.

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One thing this movie really has going for it is its cast. There are tons of big names in San Andreas. I mentioned earlier that the film stars Dwayne Johnson as Ray, the LAFD Air Rescue pilot. His estranged wife, Emma, is played by Carla Gugino, and his daughter Blake is played by Alexandra Daddario. With an estranged wife, there is almost always a new boyfriend in the picture. That’s Daniel, played by Ioan Gruffodd. We even see Paul Giamatti in San Andreas, playing a Caltech seismologist. There are other smaller roles played by Kylie Minogue and Will Yun Lee as well.

In terms of the plot, there are a lot of falling buildings. It was very chaotic to watch. It was almost as if there was no breathing room between all the horrible things that happened during the depicted earthquakes. While I do admit that I felt it was chaotic, I do feel that the movie would have been better off if it had examined the after effects of a massive earthquake, rather than taking the path that it did. I felt like the movie could have focused a little more on other people, bringing in a bit more of a human aspect to the tragedy. For the most part, the movie just sees a lot of architecture destroyed (which is done very well I might add), and it solidifies the architecture aspect by ending with the lines, “What do we do now?” “We rebuild”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if the movie completely ignores the human aspect. It’s just that we only see the characters we’re supposed to care about. There is one scene when Emma (Carla Gugino) is having lunch in a high-rise with her boyfriend’s sister Susan (Kylie Minogue), and seeing the horror of a supposed 9.1 earthquake affect all of the people in this restaurant is one of the best and most terrifying moments of the entire movie. For the rest of San Andreas, the human aspect is brought to you through the backstory of the main family, as they try to piece themselves back together from a tragedy that occurred before the movie even started.

The performances in San Andreas are decent. Dwayne Johnson plays the perfect hero, carrying out stunts with ease and switching back into the dramatic part of a grieving father. Alexandra Daddario holds her own with the British brother duo Ben and Ollie (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson). I had a slight problem with Paul Giamatti’s character, not really his fault. It was just unfortunate that his character was essentially narrating the story with scientific sounding language that was often muttered under his breath or mumbled very quickly. Giamatti’s character never interacts with the main characters in the story.

There were some scenes in the movie that were a tad too ridiculous for my liking. The opening scene focuses on a young blonde woman as she drives through winding canyon roads. As she’s driving, she continually takes her eyes off the road to reach for water or check her text messages, all while listening to Taylor Swift. The movie sets you up to think that she’s going to get in a car accident, and with everything they’re showing you, it’s as if you’re supposed to think she deserves it. Instead of a car accident, her car gets thrown off the road by a sudden landslide of sorts, and this starts a very long, drawn out tumble down the canyon. It didn’t sit well with me. I understand that the scene is in the movie to introduce Ray (Dwayne Johnson) as a total hero who is willing to risk his life to save others, but it felt more like a mockery of young women like the woman in the car. There were some other plot points I had issues with, including Ray ignoring his job to do personal business, but I’m not going to discuss them in detail so as to not ruin the plot any further.

Overall, San Andreas is a fun popcorn movie. You’re not going to get anything too deep from it, but it’s a decently fun ride while it lasts. The CGI is pretty good. The performances are solid, and there’s plenty of destruction if that’s what you’re into. I wouldn’t say it’s making the top of my list of disaster movies, but it’s alright.

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