114 Min. | Action – Drama – Thriller | May 2015
IMDB Rating: 6.7
Director: Brad Peyton
Staring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario
San Andreas Review: Brad Peyton’s “San Andreas” opens with a young girl driving on a winding road alongside a mountaintop. At one point, she looks down to get a drink of water as a sharp turn and another car approaches. Following that, she approaches another sharp turn and another oncoming vehicle and proceeds to read a text message. Both circumstances leave her unharmed. Suddenly, rocks begin to slide down the mountain, eventually knocking her down the mountainside, with her vehicle hitting every cliff on the way down before finally getting lodged vertically alongside the mountain. She winds up remaining unharmed in the vehicle as she waits for a helicopter rescue team led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to rescue her. Yes, dear reader, the weather is warming and incredulous disaster films are among us once again. If we’re going to kick off the year with a breathless amount of gusto and action-packed scenarios, especially following the classy and wickedly entertaining “Mad Max: Fury Road,” we might as well follow that pleasant taste with another adequate entree.
“San Andreas” is a film that sits so comfortably in its genre that its charm began to grow on me, and, despite a great deal of downright awful dialog and a contrived, emotional punch, there’s still enough fun in this film to warrant a recommendation. We focus on a variety of characters during the film, one of whom is Ray Gaines (Johnson), the aforementioned head of the Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter rescue squad. Ray is about to be divorced from his wife Emma and plans on taking their college-aged daughter Blake on one last vacation. Meanwhile, Lawrence Hayes and Dr. Kim Park, two Caltech seismologists, head to Las Vegas to track several small earthquakes when they witness the collapse of the Hoover Dam following an earthquake. As a result, Ray heads to the Hoover Dam, leaving his daughter with her stepfather, but not before witnessing the San Andreas Fault shifting. The camaraderie in “San Andreas” is captured on a grandscale, and it’s also shockingly brutal for a PG-13 film. Shots of buildings crushing people, people being engulfed by a tsunami, and every kind of disastrous circumstance find their way in “San Andreas,” with director Brad Peyton impressively handling all the action.
The downside to “San Andreas” is how obsessed it is with finding the most convenient quips, similar to “Avengers: Age of Ultron” where it’s constantly trying to be cheeky with its humor. While that particular line is humorous, the remainder of the film always seems to be in search of that one perfect line that it subsequently squanders a lot of potential human interest. Human interest and believable dialog have been exercised in disaster films before. “San Andreas,” while covering solid ground on its own, still doesn’t manage to match the artistic merits and sheer elegance of Steve Quale’s “Into the Storm,” which managed to tag the human interest and dialog bases more effectively. However, the realism of the chaos in “San Andreas” is what held my interest. There are fine elements of chaotic filmmaking being explored here that will undoubtedly leave the average moviegoer wowed at what’s placed before them. “San Andreas” is the film for those who already completed their third rewatch of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and feel “Ex Machina” looks a bit “too talky” for them. On that note, and several others, it works just fine.