Dir. by Brad Peyton - 1 hr. 54 min.
Official Trailer 2
by Clayton Hollifield
Once you've seen the trailer for "San Andreas" (and a lot of films like it), you pretty much know what to expect. Things are going to shake and blow up and end up in rubble (spoiler!), and someone's going to have to save their family (or loved one). What is up in the air is just how enjoyable the film will be. Guaranteed, no one is checking out "San Andreas" for the plot. The relevant questions are: are the special effects up to snuff, how much do I like the actors, and just how many boring parts are there going to be?
We're introduced to Ray (Dwayne Johnson) while he's piloting a helicopter for the fire department, tasked with saving the bacon of some girl who drove off the side of a hill while texting and driving, and is literally hanging off the side of a cliff. So he's pretty good at this sort of thing. He's also got a lot of hero baggage (an ex, a kid he's having trouble connecting with, some other dude banging his ex). Separately, Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) is a seismologist working at Cal Tech, and he's developed a way to predict earthquakes ahead of time. While field testing this with his co-worker, Kim (Will Yun Lee), a big 'un strikes, both wreaking havoc and confirming their predictive technology. And guess what? There's more big one's coming!
It's always nice when a disaster porn movie casts better than it needs to. It's the difference between "San Andreas" and "Sharknado"; the difference between Carla Gugino and Tara Reid. Obviously, you'd cast The Rock given the chance, and there's a good reason for that: he's awesome. And believable as an action star. But it's fun seeing Paul Giamatti in something that's not Oscar-bait. I always love watching Carla Gugino, even in things that don't necessarily require a ton out of her, because she usually adds to whatever she's in. And also, the storyline progeny of Johnson and Gugino (Alexandra Daddario) isn't hard to watch either (other than the story kind of makes you feel a little pervy for eyeballing her, but she first appears in a bikini, there are numerous lingering shots that invite you to get lost in her giant eyes, and she spends the bulk of the movie filling out a wet tank top. So stop baiting me!). This is part of the reason why:
Alexandra Daddario and co.
Onto the special effects, which were up to par. Many times, in these kinds of movies, the film will settle for destroying only Los Angeles, or only New York. But we get the bonus of watching the San Andreas Fault have it's way with both Los Angeles AND San Francisco! Buildings are destroyed, topple, submerged under water, people are shaken, set on fire, and washed away. And all of it looks cool. Part of that is that we get to see some of the destruction from Ray's chopper seat, which isn't necessarily a different angle to view carnage from, but gives a reason why we're in the sky to begin with. Just a little nod towards logic goes so, so far sometimes. And, this might be the only time you'll ever hear me say this, the resemblance towards video games actually helped things out. This is largely because Ray's character might as well be a superhero; he repeatedly scans a scenario, finds a way to make things go together, and then gets right to action. There is no hesitation, no fear, just him figuring out what to do, and then, improbably, making it happen over and over again. And that's pretty compelling!
And, thirdly, there aren't that many down parts. There's surprising effort put into rounding out the standard hero baggage into something that gives the characters depth. This is another area where just a little nod towards logic makes things so much better. Johnson and Gugino actually feel like they have a past and a connection (although that might just be Gugino being awesome again), and when the movie starts working on your tear ducts, it succeeds on the basis of their work.
Carla Gugino and some dude who's trying to cock-block The Rock.
All of this adds up to a fun couple of hours. It's probably not something that people will go back and watch years down the road (unless Daddario becomes a huge star, and this was an early work of hers), but you get to see two towns get wrecked for the price of one (and a vacation destination, too). You get Mr. Johnson doing what he does best (and stretching his acting muscles a little bit, too). You get to watch two beautiful actresses do a lot of jogging in tank tops (I'm not going to sit here and pretend that totally didn't happen, okay?). And it'll probably kick your stereo's ass when you sit at home crank this bad boy. If you want some loud, explosive, action hero entertainment, "San Andreas" will most certainly get the job done.
3 / 5 - Theatre