San Andreas Review

San Andreas

The new Village People shrugged off their collective wardrobe malfunction.

Although their heyday may be firmly rooted in the seventies, disaster movies have remained a staple of blockbuster cinema over the last decade or two.

Whether the plot concerns an unexplained over-heating of the earth’s core or some rapidly-changing climate conditions, audiences seem to love a natural catastrophe.

Which brings us to San Andreas.

Half of the promotional poster for the film consists of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s face looking ominous, whilst the other half features a city laid to waste.

Which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the division of screen time of the movie.

The Rock plays an all-American fire department rescue pilot with a tragic past: he separated from his wife (Carla Gugino) following the death of their daughter a few years previously.

To make matters worse, his wife has decided to take their remaining daughter (Alexandra Daddario) and move in with her wealthy new beau (Ioan Gruffudd).

In short, the last thing The Rock needs is for a natural disaster to strike and spoil his plans to bond with his daughter.

Lo and behold, that’s just what happens.

Extreme seismic activity suddenly emerges across the west coast of America, which necessitates The Rock’s immediate involvement.

Monstrous earthquakes strike in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, causing building-toppling levels of destruction and tsunamis and what have you.

The Rock manages to rescue his soon-to-be ex-missus from a collapsing rooftop and the two set off to rescue their daughter.

Can they save their marriage from emotional rubble? And can they save their daughter from actual rubble? You’ll have to wait and see.

San Andreas as a movie is not without its, well, faults.

The characters are expectedly paper-thin: the Englishman is initially bumbling and socially awkward; the villain is rich but morally bankrupt; and so on and so forth.

The performances are not much better. The Rock runs the full gamut of facial expressions from A to B, i.e. frowning, then smiling, then frowning again. Charisma manages to carry him through.

Meanwhile, Paul Giamatti does his best to lend heft to the scientific expert who holds all the answers but to whom no one really listens.

And on that scientific note, the film admittedly adopts a more than disdainful attitude towards the laws of physics.

But hey, who cares? The main star here is the sheer spectacle of urban devastation, and the visual effects more than justify the price of a cinema ticket.

Disaster supremo Roland Emmerich is presumably too busy flirting with a certain alien-invasion sequel to pick up the directorial reins on this film, with helming duties falling instead to Brad Peyton.

Peyton’s previous body of work may include less-than-blockbusting fare such as Cats & Dogs: The Return of Kitty Galore, but rest assured the requisite level of property damage and casual loss of life is delivered on a grand scale.

If you ignore the frankly horrifying body count, and focus instead on one family’s battle against a barrage of special effects, then San Andreas should adequately sate your summer blockbuster cravings.

Conor Brennan

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May 2015
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