Film Review : San Andreas

Time to get off the bridge!

Time to get off the bridge!

I’m delighted that disaster movies are slowly having a bit of a resurgence. After 2012, which tried to do everything in one movie, albeit in a peace meal lets not actually spend two minutes on one thing way, it’s taken a while to dive back into the Earthquake realm however San Andreas choose Earthquakes (and Tsunami’s) as its weapon of nature and with Dwayne Johnson at the helm, this is the film that goes for excess, one liners and big effects on little people. However it does a lot of things right and as a result is an enjoyable blockbuster that reminds me of the mid 90’s.

Release Date: 2015

Running Time: 114 minutes

Premise

Helicopter rescue worker Ray decides that when the San Andreas fault kicks off an almighty earthquake, he’ll drive it like a video game to save his ex wife and daughter whilst ignoring the millions of others needing help in the name of entertainment!

The Disasters Faced

Earthquakes, a Tsunami, the Hoover Dam, Kylie Minogue’s ability to open a door, massive buildings collapsing, glass panels and the general ability to survive anything as a main cast member whilst looking suspiciously immaculate.

The Execution

San Andreas lays things on thick from the beginning. The story is of a broken family that all still secretly love each other but won’t sort themselves out. You know everyone will be back together again by the end but how – whom knows. The plot that drives peoples motives is fleshed out over several quick beats but actually contains some emotion in them. They feel relevant and placed at the right points so it doesn’t feel silly. However, the main cast’s ability to survive so much does get quite silly when no one seems to get injured except for one part where it’s convenient. However that, along with peoples ability to hold their breath underwater for so long are usual tropes that are abused in these types of movies. One thing I certainly did approve of was the way how different disaster elements were spread throughout the movie and each offered their own set pieces and issues that were specific to that disaster. It kept each thing fresh where as, (lazy comparison incoming) in 2012 it felt like you just had to keep on running.

The debris effects are amazing

The debris effects are amazing

The Effects

San Andreas was shown in my cinema in 3D only. Its not a film where 3D means that everything is thrown at you all the time, which I was grateful of, but one in which people felt like they were stepping in and out of picture frames. The 3D elements at times made buildings, choppers and boats look like toys and really unrealistic. However the actual water and earthquake effects were stunning. The rubble detail of the collapsing buildings are fantastic and the sets worked well too, especially the collapsing skyscraper sliding into the water as real water is being used. It’s what made Poseidon a great remake and when used here, it works well. There are plenty of set pieces done really well although I spotted a few stolen from other recent films, notably Haeundae with the Tsunami.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Firstly, its a well paced film that constantly throws new things at you to be destroyed. Secondly, the cast are all very likeable. The Rock, as he will always be known, never fails to come across as a really nice guy in whatever he does. Carla Gugino does a lot with what she’s given and I’m glad she wasn’t just a damsel in distress but an active woman charging around to save her family. Special shouts to Alexandra Daddario and Art Parkinson whom do excellently in their parts too, Daddario specifically shinning in her part. Ioan Gruffudd is under utilised in his stumbling role as the new boyfriend but then I guess we aren’t expected to care about him as that role is always the death role! Of course excellent effects are the other big attraction too. You can also play guess which characters won’t survive because there’s only one celebrity cameo and one Asian scientist and I wish it wasn’t that predictable – but it is. Shame on you film industry!

The Drinking Game

Each time The Rock does something video game esque. Be it impossible helicopter moves, sky diving, holding his breath for two minutes or just generally being a gladiator.

Favourite Character

One of the reasons the film works well is that there’s no bad character. The Rock and Alexandra Daddario probably are joint winners in this. However I wished Kylie’s cameo was a bit more extended as she looked like being a super bitch!

The Rock realises the San Andreas fault actually is cracking due to his muscle gain

The Rock realises the San Andreas fault actually is cracking due to his muscle gain

Weirdest Moment

Aside from the ride the Tsunami moment, I found it really weird that everyone survives everything they’ve been through without much of a scratch and then one of our characters has the biggest drama when a piece of glass cuts into his leg from a smashed window. I’m not saying that’s not realistic – it’s just they survive SO much unscathed and then… that.

Random Trivia

On the opening of the film itself a 3.8 magnitude Earthquake was felt in Indio, California!

Goofy Quote

In the cheesiest and most silly moment, The Rock and his wife parachute down into a baseball stadium and when they land Dwayne says “It’s been a while since I’ve got you to second base”. It cringe-worthy and funny and silly all at the same time but somehow they get away with it.

Conclusion

Likely to be the most fun in the disaster movie world for 2015, San Andreas is about popcorn fun, silly one liners, massive effects and cheering your heroes onto survival. It’s predictable but it’s what you’d want from a light-ish blockbuster. I for one am glad Roland Emmerich did not make this film, as it proves this genre is not his and his alone. Other’s can match and beat him. I hope it kickstarts a new round of movies.

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