San Andreas

5 out of 10

San Andreas is a disaster film through-and-through. How do I categorize a disaster film? There are a few things and San Andreas hits all the right bullet points:

  • Paper thin story that is used to string together scenes of mass destruction. The story here follows three paths. There is one that follows Ray Gaines and his wife who are trying to get to their daughter. Gaines is a decorated ex-miltary pilot who currently flies for the fire department and is a one-man tactical rescue crew – and why not, it’s The Rock. The second storyline is of their daughter who is stuck in San Francisco and trying to make it back to her parents. And the last is of a scientist who is trying to warn the world of more earthquakes.
  • Flat characters that I could care less about. Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) is a helicopter pilot who is struggling with the death of one his daughters. This death has cause a rift between him and his estranged soon-to-be-divorced wife (Carla Gugino). The earthquake separates them from their living daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario) who is in San Francisco with her soon-to-be-step-dad (Ioan Gruffudd). There’s a love thing going between Blake and a British bloke. The bloke has a “movie cute” young brother. There is also a story about a scientist (Paul Giamatti) who has technology that can predict earthquakes. There’s a forgettable reporter. Lots of chracters, none that I really cared about.
  • Spectacular special effects that are used to distract us from the above two points. Are the spectacular? Yes. The special effects are quite impressive, though there are a few spotty effects through out. Cities are razed in this movie. The big ones being Los Angeles and San Francisco. Buildings fall, tsunamis wash things away, and many things explode.

Dwayne Johnson can make any movie watchable, he is quite the leading man. Without Johnson, San Andreas would have been unbearable. Carla Gugino, who is a great actresss, is completely wasted in this film. Her character is uneven – a ditz who is strong willed and willing to kick ass, but at the same time is squeamish about doing things like jumping out of airplanes. Paul Giamatti, another great actor, does what he can to sell his tiny part. Screaming for people to “take cover” and to not stand in doorways. He is the information spout for the film giving us information about earthquakes and the Richter scale. Alexandra Daddario and the two British blokes do what they can – running and screaming and generally acting scared. Ioan Guffudd embraces his smarmy cowardly rich man role.

Most everything in the film is predictable. Soon-to-be-divorced? Really? Would take make for a happy ending? Nope. Parents separated from child? Will they get back together? Would it be a happy ending if they didn’t? Budding love story, will the relationship last? Oh c’mon! And there can only be one thing that happens to smarmy cowardly rich men. Disaster films always end on a happy note, even if millions have died throughout the running time of the film. And disaster films always end on a note of hope, because unfurling an American flag is the symbol of hope in movies.

San Andreas has some genuinely exciting moments and some special effects that made my jaw drop. Those things plus Dwayne Johnson are enough to make the bad things in San Andreas forgettable during its running time. This movie is fun to watch, but expectations must be set low, brains must be turned off.

The Blu-ray has a pristine picture, so good in fact that the flaws in the special effects become blatantly obvious. The sound is a Dolby Atmos mix, but I only got to hear it as Dolby TrueHD because my receiver does not support Dolby Atmos. The sound is tremendous on the Blu-ray with some serious audio punch during the action sequences. During the quiet moments, all speakers are used nicely with great effect.