The Rock vs The Richter Scale, aka San Andreas, doesn’t break new ground as far as disaster movies are concerned, but this earthquake flick knows exactly what it is and manages to have fun with it. For example, the movie’s opening scene deliberately plays with our expectations about what’s going to happen when we see a young woman driving a car with her mind on anything but the winding road ahead.
Verdict: You can expect to see plenty of clichés from the disaster movies of the 70s, 90s, and Roland Emmerich fare, thrown into San Andreas’s tectonic melting pot. Which means you can tell where the plot and the various characters are heading at any given time, so don’t anticipate any seismic-sized shocks in the script department!
Whether you enjoy San Andreas depends very much on a number of factors, including whether you enjoy disaster movies in general, how much you like Dwayne Johnson, and how far you’re prepared to let yourself focus on the CGI and stunt-filled spectacle rather than the script.
Yes, it’s predictable; yes, it’s cheesy; and yes, it gets sentimental; but San Andreas offers action from the word go and pretty much keeps that up throughout. Essentially, San Andreas is what it was made to be: a big hunk of dumb fun!
Dwayne Johnson brings his winning charisma and mountain-sized muscles to the role of an LA search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, who, when things start to quake n shake, makes it his mission to search for and rescue his own family.
Carla Gugino, who plays Johnson’s estranged wife, has worked with her on-screen husband before on Race To Witch Mountain, and there’s good chemistry between them. As Johnson’s on-screen daughter Blake, True Detective’s Alexandra Daddario, sometimes gets to rescue as well as wait to be rescued.
Ioan Gruffudd is Blake’s soon-to-be stepdad, Daniel Riddick, whose surname feels like a shout-out to Johnson’s Fast & Furious bud, Vin Diesel, especially when you see the name Riddick writ large on the side of a huge skyscraper!
As a leading seismologist, Paul Giamatti is the brainiac character to Dwayne Johnson’s brawniac, which means while Johnson’s off performing death-defying stunts, Giamatti mostly gets to be Mr Exposition, explaining what just happened, what’s going to happen next, and why it’s all so damn terrifying!
Home And Away actor Hugo Johnstone-Burt gets to play a Hugh Grant-ish English guy called Ben who’s really picked the wrong day to go for a job interview. It’s a shame that Johnson’s search-and-rescue colleagues, played by Arrow’s Colton Haynes and The Vampire Diaries’ Todd Williams, didn’t get more to do in the movie. But San Andreas very much goes for the one-man-on-a-personal-mission storyline.
Just about everything in San Andreas, including the scale of the devastation, is purposely OTT – we’re not watching a documentary or docu-drama here, after all! In some ways, massive movie destruction is getting a bit numbing now, between superhero flicks, monster movies, disaster movies, and every other type of movie that shows cities and countries falling apart at the seams.
Still, the visual effects in San Andreas are mostly very good. Expect lots of digital devastation from crumbling skyscrapers, to shattering glass, walls of water, and much much more during the movie’s slightly less than 2-hour run time.
Extras: Commentary by Director Brad Peyton, San Andreas: The Real Fault Line, Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue, Scoring the Quake, Deleted Scenes, Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Brad Peyton, Gag Reel, and Stunt Reel.
Final Words: San Andreas may not be earth-shatteringly original, but it is big dumb CG fun that’s ludicrously entertaining!
San Andreas is available to download now & on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, & DVD from 12 October 2015.