The Asylum are a crazy bunch because sometimes when they try to be competent whilst being low budget, they can actually put together a decent movie. San Andreas Mega Quake is sadly not that movie. This is easily one of the worst disaster movies committed to film – chock full of nonsensical delivery, missing story parts, jarring cuts and storylines and a slightly improvisational dialogue feel.
The disasters faced
Plenty of earthquakes, some lava, an implied tsunami, helicopters that just won’t fly, collapsing buildings, cars that just wanna crash and a very bizarre love triangle.
In 83 minutes of utter confusion, there is a story to be told. Jan seems to be dating colleague Christine but she seems like she wants to call things off. Earthquakes keep getting in the way though. Tsk! However, when Jan, Christine and token black scientist Drew discover that these Earthquakes are the shallowest on record, they fear the entire west coast will slip into the Pacific ocean.
Enter Deborah. She made a sonic cannon that can be used to stop Earthquakes in their tracks. She’s pissed that the Government funded it then stole it from her to make it weapon instead. Immediately everyone seems to think this is the only logical way to stop the impending MEGA QUAKE. Conveniently a countdown every few scenes is given on the corner of the screen. She is also Jan’s ex-wife. Apparently, their marriage broke down because of the sonic cannon. I’m assuming it is some kind of vibrator metaphor…
It sucks to be Deb though because every mode of transport she gets on seems to break down. A car, a helicopter… another helicopter… and even her own cannon won’t work properly. Along with Colonel Lochner and Sergeant Chai, the team will work together to move the cannon to the place of most effectiveness to try to stop the mega quake in its tracks.
Meanwhile, Jan and Deb’s daughter Ingrid has joined the army and is currently trying to evacuate from LA where a huge earthquake has already taken place. She barely looks like she is old enough to be in secondary school but as she rescues trapped office worker Sadie from her collapsable building, time is running out. You see as things continue to fall apart – it transpires that their last hope may well be bombing the La Brea Tar Pits to let lava fill the fissure. Yes – that’s what we are going with.
Who will survive? Will you survive? Will you care?
Why is it worth watching?
San Andreas Mega Quake is worth watching in a so bad its good kind of way. The problem is that the movie loops back around to being bad again.
Firstly, lets take a look at the script and the acting. There are moments in the film where the actors seem to trip over some lines – but they are left in. There are also a few scenes where it felt like they were ad-libbing. Then there is the script itself. Characters wildly spin from one extreme to the other for just a specific scene to have a dramatic moment and then move back to normal again.
Take Lochran for example. He is well mannered and helpful until the time comes for him to be required and then he has one single scene being a complete arsehole. Then once we’ve had some shouting – it is back to normal service. Then we have Drew. His entire character exists to continuously say ‘California is my home, I have to save it!’. It is cringeworthy to the extreme – along with the really weird military salutes. In fact, spoiler incoming… His death sequence, which is horribly misjudged, ends with him having a broken back, saying ‘California is my home. I’d do anything to protect it. Now Go!’ Then he immediately dies.
Elsewhere, the rest of the cast are entirely made of steel. Deb survives two helicopter crashes like she’s broken a nail but then gets knocked out when her car reverses quickly. I actually laughed out loud. Jan has also been in trouble along the way too – but the scene must have been deleted. He arrives to save Deb from helicopter crash number one with a limp. ‘There was a bike accident – I’ll tell you about it on the way!’ he says. It’s not mentioned again and he is running around in the next scene. It is utter confusion. This is made worse because they’ve just left an injured man behind but then the script implies something else has happened too. It is just an incoherent mess.
The character of Ingrid is also problematical because it is so unbelievable. The actress goes through the motions with the little depth she is given but simply looks like she is in dress up. As a flipside, Sadie, the lady she is trying to save, is a grown woman acting like a teenager. If the two actresses had switched roles, it would have been more believable.
One thing that I did find awkwardly funny was the love triangle though. Christine, who spends the entire film looking like she wants to cry (I did too hun), is permanently awkward. She’s stuck with her boyfriend Jan who is busy prioritising his ex-wife and daughter throughout the entire film. They keep cutting shots of Christine into their conversations and she looks like she just wants out of the whole thing but wants a hug too. It is sadistically amusing.
The CGI is standard Asylum fodder. They’ve worked out over the last few years how to crumble a building vertically and so they cut and paste that effect several times throughout. One thing that really did jar the experience is that all the vehicle scenes have entirely white backgrounds. It doesn’t matter where they are in the movie – the entire background is pure white. That just isn’t even trying… The lava didn’t look too terrible though.
I think I’ve lamented this section already but there are a few extra things I wanted to point out. Joseph Michael Harris, who plays Jan, acts spookily like a 90s Keanu Reeves. His voice and mannerisms are very similar. Charlit Dae also does well with his limited role as Chai.
‘For someone whose been in a helicopter crash and a car crash I’m surprisingly OK… I’m OK… is the truck OK?!’
Deborah – clearly realising her steel body is crucial to the plot…
Three memorable moments
- That Terminator 2: Judgement Day homage.
- The quake section that drops down 5 of our leads vertically like its some kind of looney tunes cartoon.
- The second helicopter crash because of its unintended comic stupidity.
The obligatory weird moment
I could choose so very many but the level of cringe on display here is summed up by Drew who goes from unconscious to monologue to either wobbly or dead every couple of scenes he is in.
The drinking game
Every time a piece of machinery fails, or needs rebooting – take a drink. This movies entire plot could have been solved by just wrapping stuff in bubble wrap first!
It is not often that I want to slam a movie for being utter terrible and void of any whit, charm or campness but San Andreas Mega Quake is consistently atrocious across the board. The script is woeful, effects are simply missing – as are scenes themselves! I can only feel sorry for those involved and hope they had some fun making it. The only fun you’ll get from this movie is to see exactly how not make a convincing or engaging film. Avoid.
Rating: 1 / 5 – Awful
If you liked San Andreas Mega Quake then you may like…
- San Andreas – the big-budget cheese-fest that gets the tone spot on
- Earthquake – if you want campy drama all the way – this is your pick
- The Great Los Angeles Earthquake – One of the best made for TV Earthquake movies