Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson
Directed By: Brad Peyton
Written By: Carlton Cuse
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 54 min
Dwayne Johnson stars in San Andreas, a big summer movie about a huge Earthquake. Promising eye dazzling, ear drum shattering disaster porn shots, as California quickly becomes its own island. If any of you are expecting something more cerebral, then please locate your head, you’re currently storing it somewhere dark and occasionally smelly, and get over yourself. San Andreas has no delusions about what it’s trying to be, and loudly announces its intentions from the opening scene.
The movie opens with your typical cliched California teen, driving around the hills north of Los Angeles. She’s cute, she’s blonde, and has a complete disregard for herself, and other people on the road. Repeatedly distracting herself with stupid tasks inside her SUV. First she needs water a bottle, and you think, uh oh, but she’s okay. Then she takes out her cell phone to review texts, and you think, uh oh, but it’s okay. Her stupidity isn’t going to kill her, that evil bitch mother nature is! Cue the falling rocks that force her off the road, and cue Ray (The Rock), a Los Angeles rescue chopper pilot and real life superhero. He’ll save the day!
Which he does, repeatedly, and that’s hardly a spoiler. San Andreas is popcorn munching fun. Its cheesy dialog is good for a laugh, and the visual effects are great. The cast seems to understand their part in this too, as in, they’re about as important as any iconic California landmark that gets gleefully destroyed by the visual effect team. So yeah, this is dumb, and frequently funny, intentionally and unintentionally in equal measure. But I had fun watching this because I knew what to expect. My head was right where it should be!
If you’re not in the mood for a big dumb visual effects ride, then stay clear. If you’re looking for a more thoughtful take on the aftermath of a large Earthquake, I would strongly recommend The Impossible (2012), which is based on actual people and an actual natural disaster. That movie is in every measurable way better than San Andreas, but it’s no firework show. San Andreas is rated PG-13 so the carnage is mostly bloodless and the language is completely unrealistic! Seriously, if a 9+ earthquake hits California, I think we’d be hearing a few expletives!
This is a big screen adventure all the way, and this massive film needs a massive screen. If you wait for the rental then make sure you watch this on a nice big TV. This film will look terrible on a portable sized screen.
Best Moment: << spoiler! >>
Ray and his wife (Carla Gugino) are trying to jump a tsunami. Yes you read that right. And just as they reach the crest of the giant wave, a huge container ship appears. Uh oh, they’re done – but no, they manage to avoid it. But then, the shipping containers start to fall off the ship! Uh oh, they’re done for sure this time – but no, they survive that too! It’s so over the top, and so silly, and I happily chuckled all the way through it.