I feel humankind is not doing enough to conserve the earth’s limited resources, so recycling is a good thing…right? Except when it comes to movies. And Brad Peyton’s disaster flick San Andreas is made from 100% recycled disaster flicks.
Director Peyton, who is responsible for a string of other forgettable b-grade flicks like Journey 2, and the sequel to Cats and Dogs, along with writer Carlton Cuse make no attempt to disguise the fact that the story and even some of the dialogue padded around the special effects in San Andreas is a blatant rip-off of many other movies in the same genre. What unfolds is a perfectly familiar and predictable movie that leaves you with the feeling that you have seen it all before. Because you probably have. All the usual plot suspects are there… the pending divorce, the hero and his estranged family who are brought together by the disaster, the guilt from a dead daughter who couldn’t be saved years earlier, the scientist who predicted it all thanks to a new breakthrough technology he just developed… Every scene is just so cliché and redundant.
Dwayne Johnson who leads the cast of San Andreas and stars as Ray, the renegade LAFD chopper pilot, performs well in his typecast role as long as he doesn’t have to show any emotion. In those few scenes that require it, it’s painful to even watch him try. Respected actor Paul Giamatti cashes in on his role as the scientist who has a breakthrough and discovers how to predict earthquakes. He takes the role very seriously which unfortunately comes off as a little comical at times, as if he is the only person who doesn’t get a joke. (The joke being that he is the only person taking this movie seriously). I did enjoy Carla Gugino as Emma, Ray’s wife, in the role except that she seemed to have the most miraculous healing powers. Taking place over one day, she goes from being on the roof of a collapsing skyscraper in the morning to not having a scratch on her by the end of the day…and somehow found time to have her clothes washed.
Continuity aside, San Andreas does have one thing going for it and that is visual effects. With little else to offer, this is clearly where the focus was, and overall it does quite well. Like any good disaster flick, there is lots of widespread, large scale destruction (mostly of Los Angeles and San Francisco). The falling skyscrapers and crumbling buildings is really fun, and I was especially impressed with the aerial views that show the giant, undulating waves of the earthquakes under the downtown skylines. The detail in the buildings is really impressive and quite realistic, as is the destruction of Hoover Dam.
Taking it at face value, San Andreas is entertaining enough and does make use of the best of what it has to offer, despite having borrowed nearly everything else from other movies. Though it makes no attempt at originality, some decent visual effects keep this latest disaster flick from being a complete disaster.
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::: Renowned For Sound Technical Director and Film Reviewer ::: Robert is an IT geek, movie fan and part-time movie reviewer/editor. Robert also looks after the ‘behind the scenes’ technical elements of Renowned For Sound.