Film Review: San Andreas


San Andreas is a high action American disaster film with stunning visual effects and heroic action from “The Rock”

The summer of blockbusters is upon us. From Avengers: Age of Ultron to Jurassic World, competition is tight for the title of 2015 blockbuster of the year. One film trying to make its mark is San Andreas, an American disaster film starring the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Directed by Brad Peyton, San Andreas tells the story of Chief Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson), a Los Angeles Fire Department rescue-helicopter pilot and his ex-wife (Carla Gugino), who makes a dangerous journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco to find and rescue their daughter (Alexandra Daddario) following a devastating earthquake in California.

Action starts from the opening scene which sees a blonde woman fall, smash and tumble down the side of a mountain in her car following a landslide to the final scene which sees “The Rock” look across San Francisco at the devastation left by the earthquake.

Like disaster films before it (The Day After Tomorrow, Into The Storm, Deep Impact), the script for San Andreas doesn’t exactly excel in originality. One cliché follows another and the story is a little far-fetched (“The Rock” flies an helicopter, steals a car, lends an aeroplane, parachutes into a San Francisco sporting stadium and rides the way of a tsunami in a speed boat – all during a magnitude 9 earthquake – in an attempt to reach his daughter). Surprisingly, there’s also virtually no humour to be found. Apart from one cheesy joke in the sporting stadium, the script boasts little comic relief meaning you spend pretty much the whole of the movie with your heart in your mouth.

On the plus side, what the film lacks originality, it certainly makes up for with its special effects. Visually, San Andreas is stunning. You can’t help but watch back in awe as the infamous San Andreas fault finally gives, unleashing back-to-back jolts that leave a trail of misery from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Skyscrapers crumble, fires erupt, the Hollywood sign topples and a tsunami swamps the Golden Gate Bridge. Watch it in 3D and you’ll feel like you’re actually there!

In terms of casting, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a strong role as Chief Ray Gaines, the Los Angeles search-and-rescue specialist who will stop at nothing to find his daughter. After his previous roles in Hercules and the Fast & Furious films, Johnson is more than capable of holding his own in an action movie. He also is rather good at the sensitive stuff, showing that he can be true leading man.

Paul Giamatti plays a strong role as analyst Lawrence Hayes, who with the help of his assistant Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) solves the puzzle behind the consistent earthquakes near the Hoover Dam. Carla Gugino is also well-cast as Ray’s estranged wife Emma, even if she does spend the majority of the film looking longingly at The Rock.

Alexandra Daddario appeals as the daughter of the protagonist Blake Gaines, but much more interesting is her English love interest, Ben played by Hugo Johnstone-Burt. There is even a silly little roll in for Kylie Minogue who joined the cast as something of a ‘product placement’ to stand well with the host country (Australia) where the majority of scenes were filmed.

In terms of reviews, critics have been surprisingly quiet in the run-up to the film’s release, which may be partly due to its ill-timing. Marketing plans for San Andreas had to be revised in wake of the real-life disaster in Nepal which until recently, had shown images of famous Los Angeles and San Francisco landmarks crumbling with the wreckage flying towards crowds. Future promotional material will include information on how to help the relief efforts in Nepal and advice on preparing for natural disasters.

All in all, San Andreas is everything you expect it to be – a high action American disaster film with stunning visual effects and heroic action from “The Rock”. It won’t blow you away but it’ll certainly keep you entertained for two hours.

3 out of 5 stars

San Andreas is released worldwide in 2D and 3D on 28 May 2015.