Every summer needs a big, ridiculous and expensive disaster movie and this summers answer to that is director Brad Peyton’s giant California wrecking earthquake movie, San Andreas…
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Furious 7) has made it clear that he is never going to stop going after your box office dollars, and he is having a lot of success with that so far. Johnson plays this film’s protagonist, Ray, who is a badass fire rescue hero person who flies a helicopter like nobody’s business.
The Rock is joined by a pretty enjoyable supporting cast consisting of Carla Gugino (Sin City), who plays Ray’s separated wife, Paul Giamatti (Shoot Em’ Up), who plays the scientist who called it before it all went down and Alexandra Daddario (True Detective), who plays the daughter (more like DDario, am I right?!?!). No, but really she is a lot of fun in this and is more than just a bouncy rack with blue eyes.
The plot centers around Lawrence (Giamatti) who is working on a way to predict earthquakes and ***spoiler alert*** he figures it out. A big earthquake happens in Nevada and Ray is tapped to help the victims when Lawrence discovers that a much bigger quake is about to ROCK California (see what I did there?). Chaos ensues as Ray and Emma (Gugino) try to rescue their daughter.
First off, don’t pay to see this movie in 3D. It does nothing to enhance the experience and it is just needless expense. That is not a commentary on the quality of the movie, it is just a point that needs to made in order to protect your wallet.
Disaster movies are what they are to some degree. Even the best disaster movies of all time are almost never something that will garner attention from the Academy. They are popcorn blockbuster flicks, plain and simple, so they need to be judged as such. That being said, San Andreas is actually very enjoyable when put under that lens, even though this is the type of movie that will probably be unfairly panned to some degree.
Peyton did a great job channeling his inner Emmerich/Bay for this film, and I mean that in the good way. Yes, both of those directors have turned out some steaming piles of hot garbage in their day; but they are also really good at destroying cities and making shit blow up. Peyton did just that. The action sequences look quite good and they are effectively intense.
Johnson is as unreasonably watchable as he always is and as with most films he is in, he is one of the main reasons to see this movie. Sure, the dialogue isn’t anything more than it absolutely needs to be, and that isn’t why anyone goes to see a big, stupid earthquake disaster movie. Giamatti is excellent as always and turns in the best performance in the film. Daddario is actually really charming as well and if nothing else, this film makes us want to see more of her.
San Andreas doesn’t necessarily do anything new, instead it is very similar to the 1997 disaster flick, Volcano. Just replace Tommy Lee Jones with The Rock, Anne Hech with Giamatti, Gaby Hoffmann (who???) with Daddario and volcanoes for earthquakes. Scale up the budget and size a bit and that is pretty much what you’re left with. And honestly, it’s really entertaining.
If you don’t count Godzilla and Gravity as disaster movies, then San Andreas may be the most entertaining disaster movie to come out in quite some time– even if it is a bit cheese ball. The action is great, the scale is massive, the cast is surprisingly terrific and it plays on something that could actually happen; even if the science in the movie was probably, to put it lightly, not entirely accurate.
Ultimately, if you like watching cities get ruined to the max and you like The Rock, then this will be an enjoyable movie if you take it for what it is. Don’t over expect and just enjoy the ride.