San Andreas: Rated “PG-13” (1 hour 47 minutes)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Archie Panjabi, Hugo Johnstone-Burt
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Rocking and rolling into theaters this weekend is the Irwin Allen-style disaster film, San Andreas, where The Big One finally happens and California (all but) falls into the ocean. Yep, kids for those of us who feel that those folks who moved from the East Coast to California raise the IQ of both places, the film proves to be vindication that yea, we may have snow up here in the North East, but we don’t have to worry about the Earth moving under our feet. So, yep, this one is it, kids, after the world-renown San Andreas Fault finally gives out, it triggers a magnitude 9.6 earthquake in California, as well as a massive tsunami that threatens the entire coast. All of which puts a dedicated search and rescue helicopter pilot (Johnson) and his estranged wife (Gugino) to make their way north from Los Angeles to San Francisco in order to save their only daughter (Daddario). However, their treacherous journey north is only the beginning of this epic quest, only while they think that the worst just might be over, it turns out that it’s just getting started.
To be sure, while seismologists dispute the “science” of the film, the action is pretty wild, and the story is (as stated) a Mega-class disaster film so everything is so far over the top that it is actually in the next county. Johnson is Ray, a dedicated chopper pilot and rescue worker who, after the accident death of his teen daughter, becomes reclusive and eventually estranged from his wife, Emma, and older daughter, Blake. Now on the eve of Blake relocating to San Francisco and Emma moving in with her new boyfriend, Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd) a wealthy builder (who is in the process of constructing a massive tower in San Francisco), Ray is called in on his weekend off to deal with a quake.
Unbeknownst to Ray or any of the other players (save for CalTech Prof. Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) the quake they felt is merely the leading edge of the most massive quake to ever be recorded in history. What we then are subject to is nearly two hours of everything from buildings in LA & ‘Frisco falling to the Hoover Dam crumbling before our eyes, to a massive (massive) Tsunami threaten to engulf all of San Fran. Needless to say, Johnson will simply not give up hope for his daughter and (along with his estranged wife) heads north to rescue her. Meanwhile the daughter, proves to be every bit her father’s daughter as she, along with a pair of British brothers she met along the way, mange to not get crushed, drowned, or set ablaze during the Biblical-level destruction that is being rained down on the entirety of the Left Coast .
Now, when watching such an epic-level disaster film of this nature, one needs to determine if a) the story is compelling, b) the acting is believable, and c) is the overall delivery of the film itself entertaining and/or thrilling. To this end, we have to say yes to all three (sure, sure, that everyone (possibly) finds each other and all works out satisfactorily is something of a stretch, but in 2012 we did see The Impossible, a film based on true events where a family in Thailand survived that country’s actual tsunami and eventually reunited, so perhaps this film isn’t so impossible after all. Still, San Andreas, does make for a fun popcorn flick to kick off the summer of 2015, so go out there and have fun kids.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.