Synopsis: After the infamous San Andreas Fault gives, triggering a magnitude 9-plus earthquake in California, a search and rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne Johnson) and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) make their way together from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter.But their treacherous journey north is only the beginning. And when they think the worst may be over…it’s just getting started.
Release Date: May 29, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Adventure
Every Summer a film arrives that requires audience members to check their brain at the door and strap-in for some mindless, CGI-heavy entertainment. They are the types of movies that if the moviegoer even stops for just one second and thinks about it, the entire experience falls apart, but the visceral nature of the film is enough to numb those anti-escapist thoughts: San Andreas is such a movie.
While San Andreas itself is pure nonsense of the highest order, it doesn’t try to hide its identity as a shameless copycat disaster flick. In fact, you could take all the component parts of any Roland Emmerich film — Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow — and find them lifted wholesale and plugged into Director Brad Peyton’s San Andreas. There’s the earnest father (Dwayne Johnson from Furious 7) who is absurdly well equipped for the destructive event, in this case a massive set of earthquakes along the San Andreas fault. The ex-wife (Sucker Punch‘s Carla Gugino) who still harbors feelings for the father, but has moved on to a new, seemingly good-natured boyfriend who only reveals his sinister side when the walls start shaking and the ceiling starts falling. And the daughter (Texas Chainsaw 3D‘s Alexandra Daddario) that’s trapped in the dead center of the films most epic moments, and is in desperate need of rescue. But not before she forms a budding romance with a complete stranger, of course.
Yeah, San Andreas is that type of movie, but it wears those elements like a badge of honor. The film knows its real strength is jaw-dropping scenes of massive destruction, enough to make even the venerable Emmerich impressed. For a film so shallow in every aspect, it’s actually surprising how effective the CGI works; it looks neither cheesy nor cheap. Granted, it’s nothing audiences haven’t seen before — buildings toppling, giant waves crashing, the Golden Gate Bridge falling to pieces — but it’s done with such razor sharp detail that you tend to forget the mindlessness of the film.
But boy is it mindless. There’s not a single aspect of the films script, its acting, or its direction that you could call exceptional, let alone memorable. All the characters have strange motivations, especially Johnson’s character, Ray, a Los Angeles Fire Department serviceman who neglects all his professional duties to try and rescue his daughter. The West Coast is literally falling apart, and Ray focuses on saving his wife and daughter despite the greater needs all around him.
In the end, though, if you can turn your brain off enough to enjoy a film like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, then San Andreas will feel like a warm blanket of rubble. The destruction is pretty spectacular so it’s hard to fault the film for not getting its most important aspect right. But there could have been a lot more thought put into the rest of the film. San Andreas is the equivalent of a fun amusement ride having all the thrills and nothing more. And for a lot of people that will be just fine.
Most audience members won’t be coming to San Andreas in the hopes of deep, introspective themes, sophisticated acting, or even a coherent plot. They want to see the coastal cities of California crumble in spectacular fashion, and in that regard San Andreas delivers in spades. Much like Roland Emmerich films, San Andreas‘ massive CGI destruction is almost pornographic, as skyscrapers topple, landmarks turn to dust, and, of course, a giant tsunami wave ravages San Francisco.
While the events themselves are certainly far from believable, the effects are anything but. The CGI work here is top notch, to the point it’s almost difficult not to fear ones safety as a California resident. The film may be light on all the key elements of your average movie — plot, character, theme — but it knows how to deliver spectacle. Chomp that popcorn, turn off your brain, and San Andreas will take you for a 2-hour thrill ride.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Brad Peyton
- Screenwriter(s): Carlton Cuse
- Cast: Dwayne Johnson (Ray)Carla Gugino (Emma)Alexandra Daddario (Blake) Ioan Gruffudd (Daniel Riddick)Archie Panjabi (Serena)Paul Giamatti (Lawrence)Hugo Johnstone-Burt (Ben)Art Parkinson (Ollie)
- Editor(s): Bob Ducsay
- Cinematographer: Steve Yedlin
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Andrew Lockington
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA