San Andreas Review

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If there’s one thing Californians are scared of it’s the “the big one”: The massive earthquake that’ll level cities all across California. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter when. San Andreas tries to play off those fears by showing audiences what would happen when the big one finally hits California. The scientists at the California Institute of Technology took a look at the script to make sure the science in the film was sound. Does San Andreas end up being a hit or a disaster worthy of the film’s subject matter?

San Andreas is a generic disaster film that’s big on the CGI destruction but not so big on everything else. Despite all that the film’s strong cast saves San Andreas from becoming a complete disaster.

San Andreas follows LAFD Search and Rescue chopper pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) as he goes on a mission with his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) to save their only daughter (Alexandra Daddario) when the largest magnitude earthquake hits California.

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Plenty of what happens on screen defies any sort of logic to both narrative and the laws of physics. Although the geological scientists at CalTech looked at the script, the film exaggerates them exponentially because this is Hollywood after all. San Andreas takes much inspiration from the grandiose disaster films of the 70s and while it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the genre, it does bring with it spectacular CGI mayhem on screen.

Thankfully there is a lot of destruction to go around as the screenplay relies heavily on the chaos to move the film along. When the film settles down, the pace weakens and the film suffers. Additionally, the entire film is filled with clichéd moments of narrow escapes, cheesy dialogue, and lots of foreshadowing.

Although screenwriter Carlton Cuse (ABC’s “Lost”) tries to give our heroes something to do amidst all the pandemonium, the characters are still one-dimensional. There isn’t much character growth in the film, which is a shame considering the strong cast that director Brad Peyton brought together.

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The family dynamic between The Rock, Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario is basically the most compelling storyline in the film — which isn’t saying much. Nevertheless, this dynamic allowed The Rock to show his softer side along with his charming, alpha-male self. The Rock must’ve trained Gugino and Daddario in the school of surviving earthquakes, as the two clearly aren’t panicking with the chaos around them. As the rest of California (and parts of Nevada) is crumbling, Gugino and Daddario refuse to be victims to Mother Nature.

That leaves the supporting characters left to tremble in front of Mother Nature. Among them are Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), his younger brother, Ollie (Art Parkinson) and CalTech seismologist, Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti). Johnstone-Burt and Parkinson clearly had fun acting alongside the carnage around them. Which wasn’t difficult considering their main purpose in the film is to make Daddario’s character look good. Giamatti is his usual self as he’s understandably left to be the character to give exposition to all of the madness.

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Overall, San Andreas is practically what you expect from a disaster film. You know already how the film is going to play out from the first 30 minutes. In addition, the film is filled with cheap dialogue and overblown melodrama. However, the film knows that it’s all about the over-the-top, chaotic extravaganza. Your best bet is to go with the flow and let the “franchise-viagra” himself, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, save the day. Honestly, there’s nothing more entertaining than that.

Rating: 2.5/5 Atoms
NR 2_5 Atoms - C-

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1598 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.