Synopsis – In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.
My Take – Now days, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is known as a movie franchise savior, be it the Fast & Furious installments or the G.I. Joe sequel, his presence has sky rocketed the overall tally of the films & maybe the same will be applied to his entry into the future DC movie Shazam (well I know thats too early to say). To be fair, its right to credit him for his improved acting skills, charm & overall alpha male portrayals which are actually fun to watch despite the end result of the film he stars in (Nope, I am not gonna add Tooth Fairy to that list!). Here, it seems he is out to save the already done too much ‘disaster films’ franchise. Director Roland Emmerich is a guy who has been usually attached to this genre, while he froze the entire planet in the entertaining The Day After Tomorrow, he went ahead & destroyed the whole planet, in a way a friend of mine described – “stereotypical pretentious bullshit”. While last year’s Into the Storm seemed to have entered the final nail to the coffin, with its pleasureful visuals & meddling characters, yet director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) seems their are more ways to scare the hell out of us! In that sense, he has succeeded massively! This earthquake movie about The Big One is the big one among quake flicks. Hollywood film production companies love to showcase the latest in cinematic special effects technology, and there is certainly no exception here, this film has crossed the threshold into new film making territory.
The seismic events portrayed here are very realistic, perhaps too real. Yet, It can be exciting, even fun, to witness vicariously mayhem, chaos and destruction through out a movie! The story follows, rescue helicopter pilot Ray (Dwayne Johnson), who along with his ex wife Emma (Carla Gugino) must rescue their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) after a huge –as in freaking’ massive – earthquake rips apart California. Left stranded in the ending city by Emma’s Bf Daniel Reddick (Ioan Gruffudd), Blake enlists the help of British brothers Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) & Ollie (Art Parkinson) to find a safe passage. Meanwhile, seismologist Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) along with his team & reporter Serena (Archie Panjabi) try to figure out the next waves in order to warn the public to safety. Its pretty obvious director Brad Peyton enjoys sinking land masses & crashing down buildings, but between all the destruction he seemed to have missed a great opportunity – for us to actually care about the protagonists. No matter how impressive the devastation gets in Brad Peyton’s West Coast-rattling flick, the script never gives its cast anything more imaginative to blurt. He must also love channeling the early 1970s’ silliest genres, moving from the monster movie to the disaster pic, in which depth of characterization too often proved inversely proportional to the size of the effects budget. Yet, his decision to keep the film as classic as possible is what works. This is a film that knows what it is and makes no excuses, happily owning its more cringe worthy moments while standing proud by its action spectacle. It doesn’t try to spin theories as shown in Twister or goes emotional like The Impossible. Disaster movies usually base their “plot” around three distinct groups of character: the slightly older action hero, the young ones, and the action hero’s ex! Well, it has it all! Adding to the VFX spectacle is a true sense of chemistry between the core trio of Johnson, Daddario and Carla Gugino, who plays Johnson’s estranged wife in what is now her third film alongside the former WWE superstar. While Johnson’s hulking frame and charisma makes him an appealing action hero to root for!
The obligatory muscles, testosterone and impossible heroics are all displayed throughout the movie, but here’s the lowdown: the dude has really turned into a great actor! Even more impressive is Daddario who successfully manages to keep the scenes afloat with her own disarming presence. Paul Giamatti & Ioan Gruffudd are alright. While the sight of a metropolis destroyed has become old-hat of late with a glutton of superhero movies laying waste to all matter of city, the scenes of natural fueled destruction in the film are never the less impressive, as earthquakes and tsunamis are portrayed in gleefully over the top (yet thankfully not Roland Emmerich) style.As one might imagine, the film is not only about the San Andreas Fault triggering a 9.0 earthquake in California, a resulting tsunami from the Pacific Ocean, and widespread chaos amid total destruction, but about love, family and sacrifice, well even though, it tries too hard to imply that. There are many Hollywood disaster movies and we’ve seen them all. But with this film even the most natural disaster-jaded, crisis-hardened, cinema-cynical audience will have a tough time finding the seams in this seamless production. On the whole, ‘San Andreas’, follows the disaster movie formula to pitch perfect precision, & works thanks to its spectacular visual effects and an agreeable cast led by the huge screen presence of Dwayne Johnson. If you are looking for some awesome disaster porn resulting in a countless body count, there’s a plenty of delicious visuals to look at! But in case you expect to see character developments or genuine plot devices in a movie about earthquakes, you are looking at the wrong movie!
Director – Brad Peyton
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 114 minutes