Get that movie popcorn and your 72oz soda ready because SAN ANDREAS is ready to burst through the ceiling and land smack dab in your lap. SAN ANDREAS makes no mistakes what it is and leaves no apology for its absolute absurdity with cumbersome unrealistic action sequences, cheesy one-liners, and scenarios that are too outlandish to fathom. It’s your quintessential disaster flick that leaves nothing untouched all while helping you forget about your day to day lives. Don’t write this one off quite yet!
The trailer isn’t fooling anyone. SAN ANDREAS is everything you hoped it wouldn’t be, but that’s nothing to fault it for. It’s just as far-fetched and ludicrous as Dantes Peak or Deep Impact of their times, yet we still all loved those when they came out, unless you were a film critic. This is no different. Think Armageddon times a thousand! We have loved to hate and mock these disaster films however I don’t think the creators of SAN ANDREAS would expect anything less from this over-the-top newest epic.
Director BRAD PAYTON returns with DWAYNE JOHNSON after such films as Journey 2 or a sequel to Cats & Dogs. Yeah, that guy. Writer and story creators CARLTON CUSE, ANDRE FABRIZIO and JEREMY PASSMORE quite possibly left a round table meeting thinking lets just make the biggest disaster film imaginable and hit the ground running with it. What they ended up creating with such a silly screenplay really is quite remarkable, as laughable as most of the film is.
The plot is simple: there are giant earthquakes that are reeking havoc through California along the, you guest it, the San Andreas Fault, and we are caught right in the middle of their carnage. The story that goes with it just ends up being quite meaningless.
A rescue-chopper pilot Ray, DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON, has just helped save the life of post-earthquake distressed girl and quickly comes to learn that this is just the beginning of the destruction. He and his ex-wife Emma, CARLA GUGINO (Watchmen, Mad Men, Sin City), embark on a journey through California to save their daughter Blake, ALEXANDRIA DADDARIO (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, True Detective), who has been left to defend herself where everyone will be hit hardest, San Francisco.
DWAYNE JOHNSON does everything he can with the content provided, and really fits the role being a man that can basically get out alive of any situation. The movie starts right off with a small trembler along Hollywood Hills. A young girl driver escapes a few cheap scares shortly before a large landslide takes her car flying off the hill in near comical crash down the side of the rocky cliff. After surviving one of the most horrific car crashes since the dawn of time, this young girl survives the tumble and head on collision with just a few scratches. The Rock is there with his chopper to get the nearly unharmed girl out of the wedges through undeniably the most unrealistic rescue scene of this century. Of course everything is done just in the knick of time. This quickly becomes the theme of the movie.
As ridiculous as it was, it sets a precedence for what the audience has gotten themselves into. Nearly every, no, every single action scene features just as outlandish scenarios as the last with everything happening just in time before someone would have lost a limb or their life. Watching out for falling rocks, or giant beams of steal for the matter. Heck, watch out for that giant cruise liner riding the wave into heart the San Francisco. It turns into rather a fun game seeing how each actor will get out of the next scene alive.
Ray and his ex-wife Emma must put past their differences to get to the bay area in order to rescue their daughter Blake who happens to me more competent anyway than any other person on the planet. No worry to be concerned for her because apparently being the daughter of a helicopter piloting rescue man means she knows much more than her cute innocent looking persona gives off.
Blake has since met a man, Ben (HUGO JOHNSTONE-BURT), interviewing for her mothers douche of a boyfriend’s company, conveniently the architect of the largest and strongest building in San Francisco, that’s quite the foreshadowing there. His younger brother Ollie, ART PARKINSON, also tags along as he attempts to bring Ben and Blake romantically together. They lead into a charming little subplot and help lighten the mood of the movie significantly.
However, then there is a completely meaningless subplot featuring PAUL GIAMATTI as the corky seismologist that can now predict the future of earthquakes, although at this point it’s already too late. While I think it it’s safe to say that the majoring of us really like GIAMATTI, his role is basically just there to help explain and justify what the Hell is happening to California. He gets some fantastic one-liners as well, with each ending with an imaginary dramatic “dun dun duuun” sound effect. He even gets on the receiving end of a “You did good” line, which I beg to differ that after millions have probably died, I don’t think it’s okay to shed a line comparable to “That’ll do pig, that’ll do”.
Speaking of pointless but oh so welcomed eye-candy is ALEXANDRIA DADDARIO bosom. That’s my G rated way to put it. All the classic horror film cues for her are there from the removing of her dirty over-shirt to reveal her large untamed breasts to a wet t-shirt and running! Those pre-teen boys watching this next to their parents may need to have bag of popcorn at this time.
All of these things are so absolutely silly and painfully obvious that it almost turns SAN ANDREAS into a classic B movie yet with incredibly well-done special effects that makes my mind hurt just imagining creating all of the detail. The majority of the film features practical sets surrounded with CG elements helping create a realistic environment. These massive disaster films usually find trouble with tsunami like waves or countless buildings crumbling to the ground, but they were able to do something correct here with a moderate budget. As large as the scenes were, they weren’t terribly fake looking.
The effects and suspense, even as unbelievable as they may be, is really what makes SAN ANDREAS salvageable. Unbeknownst to the rest of this review, this movie is impressive and still has a place in Hollywood even though I never thought I would have to see The Golden Gate Bridge get destroyed yet again. So what if every crazy scenario continues to get more far-fetched from the last? So what if the story is actually quite meaningless to what really happens in the movie? That’s not what this movie is meant to be.
No, SAN ANDREAS is one of the largest, most epic movies you will ever see! It’s worth it just to see the one-liners. It’s a good laugh yet still wildly entertaining and mesmerizing. Okay, I’ll admit I also enjoyed seeing AT&T Park get a lot of screen time and the idea I have been to nearly every location the movie is set. Seriously though, it’s still an viscous disaster film that holds nothing back. There are no dramatic scenes that are going to be deserving of an Oscar, but the scenes that require some dramatic acting still delivered some powerful moments.
If you’re still a little worried about the next big earthquake to hit Souther California or still a little squeamish than this may be a little much for you. It will definitely make you think about your emergency natural disaster plan in place. But, if the next big one hits… (intense ominous music builds louder) …you’re on your own.