Directed by Brad Peyton, San Andreas is set in the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, where Ray (Dwayne Johnson), a rescue-chopper pilot, makes a dangerous journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco in order to rescue his ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), and their daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario). But their treacherous journey north is only the beginning. And when they think the worst may be over… it’s just getting started.
If you’re a fan of disaster films, then San Andreas is the film for you; if not, then you will only be adding to the mass of negative reviews already out there. But that will be your own fault. San Andreas is exactly the kind of film that you would expect it to be, and when you know that you’re going in to the cinema to watch a disaster film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the lead, you really can’t expect anything more.
Disaster films are typically very similar. It’s a generic genre built on clichés, a cheesy script, over-dramatic acting, and there’s almost always a bigger focus on the use of special effects over any story line at all. And that’s what you get with San Andreas. That, but to a much higher standard.
The script is cheesy, but it has a lot of decent humour throughout; the acting is over-dramatic, but not in an off-putting or laughable way (because let’s face it, it’s hard to fall from the top of a building with sincerity); the plot is cliché in that you know how it will pan out, but there’s enough going on to keep you interested and invested. It’s even quite emotional at times, and you do find yourself rooting for The Rock to save his family. And, whilst the story line doesn’t diverge any further from a man reuniting with his family, there are no unrealistic moments or skimps on action. Usually with disaster films you find yourself doubting certain scenarios quite often, but San Andreas plays out as close to a real-life disaster like this would.
The special effects are pretty faultless are definitely the film’s best quality, though. There are no unrealistic objects flying at you from various directions, and not only do the location shots of San Francisco look beautiful, but the falling apart of San Francisco looks just as good. The quakes and the tsunamis are pretty terrifying, too. You can feel the vibrations as whole cities fall apart, and it looks good enough to believe that it’s actually happening.
Much like the genre itself, Dwayne Johnson is an actor who takes some getting used to. You know not to expect an Oscar-worthy performance from him, but you also know that he will put his all into what he does. And that’s why he’s so perfect for this role. Johnson’s had a number of poor role choices since the beginning of his film career, but he has more recently started to be taken seriously as an actor with roles in films including the Fast & Furious franchise and Pain & Gain. I have to admit that I used to avoid any film that starred him in the lead in at first, but I now have a lot of respect for the guy. You can always tell that there’s a lot of passion behind what he does, and whilst he might not be able to shed a tear on cue, you will believe that there is a lot of emotion behind his acting, which is why you can’t help but love to watch his performances. I’ve certainly been converted, and I think this is a film that will do that for many more, too.
The supporting cast are great as well. Aside from two awful British accents from Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson, Carla Gugino is excellent and Alexandra Daddario certainly has the looks… and a brain, which made a decent change. Together, the family were well cast and an enjoyable bunch to share the experience with. Oh, and let’s not forget an odd supporting role from Kylie Minogue… yeah, that happened.
There are a lot of bad reviews out there, but if you want an easy watch that’s pleasing to the eye, then give this a go. Disaster films are always worth the watch, and I’d happily watch this one again.