Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Film Review: San Andreas

Los Angeles, are you ready? San Francisco, are you ready? Let's get ready to crumble! 

Starring WWE superstar Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and True Detective's Alexandra Daddario, San Andreas is two hours of eye-popping action and nail-biting tension that will leave you more than satisfied. 

Disaster films have had their day. This is no longer 1998 where disaster films were in rude health and all manner of tectonic calamities and celestial bodies were turning Earth and everything on it into dust. Nowadays, we're lucky if we get just one film about comets sending us back to Stone Age a year.

However, occasionally, we do see the genre revived with a different twist - last year we had Into The Storm, a weak found footage Twister rip-off that didn't blow me away and the year before we had This Is The End, an unfunny comedy that saw five self-centred caricatures bickering at one another in a Hollywood Hills mansion for two hours.

This year, San Andreas is taking ownership of the disaster film genre. Except, there are no twists. This film is plain and simple, by-the-book destruction where an almighty earthquake that rips California in two and plunges the West Coast of America into chaos. And you know what? It's all the better for it. This movie embraces its own simplicity and runs with it.

The plot sees The Rock play Ray, a fire and rescue pilot who must reunite his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) and daughter Blake (Daddario) amongst the mass destruction and hysteria raining down around them. That's it. Sure, there are a couple of sub-plots and side characters here and there (Ioan Gruffudd, the dick step-father and Paul Giamatti, the brainy seismologist) but other than that, that's your lot. And for the most part, it works. It's light on plot, but heavy on action. And I really loved every minute.

I'm not kidding, I really loved this movie. It doesn't pretend to be something it isn't. It knows and understands the B-movie expectations we're bringing with us to theatre, and meets them. Nothing more, nothing less. Please, for the love of God, don't sit there being a smartass and picking fault (pun intended) with this film - it's supposed to escapist, popcorn-munching fun that doesn't take life too seriously.

I mean, c'mon - they cast The Rock as a fire and rescue helicopter pilot. Genius! How does the helicopter stay in the air with those massive muscles? How does he find t-shirts that tight? Why would anyone file for divorce against this Herculean specimen? Why is there a really random Kylie Minogue cameo that barely lasts 20 seconds? All these questions and more are left unanswered in this film, and it's all the better for it.
I thought Alexandra Daddario did a great job in this film too - even if, at the age of 29, she's a little old to be playing The Rock's daughter, she gets a cool little storyline that doesn't just paint her as the helpless damsel in distress. Although, I wish movies would stop explaining how a character knows something with the excuse "oh, my Dad is a X, so I know how to do Y" as if they just absorbed the knowledge via osmosis.

Other than that, there's very little I can fault (pun intended) San Andreas on. The VFX are spectacular as director Brad Peyton squeezes everything from the $100 million budget by throwing all manner of eye-popping 3D destruction onto the screen. From shuddering skyscrapers to yawning chasms and thick pillars of fire and smoke, San Andreas is populated with the kind of stuff Roland Emmerich’s wet dreams are made of. It's also not blighted by the addition of 3D, which makes a change.

The Verdict: 7.5/10

Leave your brain at the door and you'll have a whale of a time with San Andreas. It doesn't reinvent the wheel or do anything particularly groundbreaking (again, pun intended) but what it does do, it does damn well. The cast are great, the action is spectacular (even in 3D!) and you'll laugh along with a lot of the implausibilities. An all-round fun time at the movies.

San Andreas is in cinemas tomorrow (May 28). This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.


  1. This actually looks really fun...and I'm in the mood for a good disaster movie!

    1. It's better than most, but that's not really hard is it? Anyway, I liked it :) I'm sure others will say different. Thanks for commenting Fisti! :)

  2. So this is going to give all of those on the west coast nightmares...

    1. Yeah, but it doesn't show any blood - it's surprisingly PG for a film about millions dying haha. Thanks for commenting Thomas :)



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