If you’d hoped that having Lost’s Carlton Cuse writing the screenplay would result in San Andreas being a more cerebral form of disaster movie, you should realise he was also an executive producer on Nash Bridges, so he is not averse to more straightforward entertainment. Indeed, it’s almost like he watched every Roland Emmerich movies – from 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow to Independence Day and Godzilla – and then used that as his template, but cut out anything too intelligent.
There is little to surprise here, although it certainly delivers on the large sale mayhem.
Dwayne Johnson is Los Angeles helicopter rescue pilot Ray, who’s dealing with the collapse of his marriage following the death of one of his children. However, he’s soon going to have more than that to worry about (actually, that’s not true as that’s all he cares about), when earthquakes start devastating California, starting at the Hoover Dam and then working its way up to San Francisco. And wouldn’t you know it, Ray’s daughter is in San Francisco, and so he sets off to rescue her, dodging city destroying shaking, tsunamis and general building destroying catastrophe along the way, as the San Andreas fault splits apart, resulting in the biggest quakes ever known.
If you ignore the fact that Ray essentially abandons his responsibilities as a first responder during the greatest disaster to ever hit the US and takes vital equipment with him so he can put his own needs first, San Andreas is fun if rather simple entertainment. I do kind of feel that on principle, if you’re going to spend more than $100 million making a movie you should try to make something amazing rather than just quite fun, but San Andreas does manage the latter.
The $100 million plus does allow for a lot of disaster, with dams collapsing, skyscrapers falling and plenty of over the top action, so there is a fair amount of spectacle to be had. Indeed, this is the sort of movie that completely relies on that spectacle, as what’s going on around it fulfils the criteria for what these sorts of films are supposed to do, but it’s not particularly absorbing. Indeed, in the face of what’s going on, trying to hang things on Ray’s family drama seems a little silly, but it at least ensures there’s a fantasy element that keeps you from thinking too much about the millions of people being killed.
There’s not really a lot more I can say – it’s a disaster movie and it destroys a lot of things in grand-scale fashion, while some people we’re supposed to care about run around narrowly escaping death on endless occasions, and managing to be everywhere something massively dramatic is happening. And that’s about it.
It does look good on Blu-ray and the soundtrack is suitably bombastic, and there are a few decent special features, although nothing too extraordinary. It is quite fun seeing how they created the giant earthquakes though.
Overall Verdict: There’s very little about San Andreas that you wouldn’t expect from a by-the-numbers disaster movie, but at least provides plenty of large scale mayhem and does it pretty well.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac