‘San Andreas’ is as predictable as they come
San Andreas (Rated T)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandria Daddario
Dwight’s Rating: 2 stars
After only the first 40 minutes, I had just about all I could take of the earthshaking, building-collapsing, people-crushing, and death and destruction of “San Andreas”.
The earthquake movie is the latest in a long line of natural disaster flicks, seeking to prove that aliens, zombies, dinosaurs, vampires or man-made nuclear apocalypse should be the least of your concerns; the greatest threat to human beings is the Planet Earth itself, which seems intent to be free of the scourge of the human race.
Seismologists have predicted that California is long overdue for “the big one” — a gigantic catastrophic earthquake. In “San Andreas”, California’s day has come, as the notorious fault line triggers a devastating magnitude nine quake — the largest in recorded history.
Ray Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a search and rescue helicopter pilot with the Los Angeles Fire Department. And he’s determined to rescue his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) and their daughter from impending disaster. That leads him on a rescue mission from L.A. all the way up to San Francisco.
FYI — that’s 381 miles!: a fact not mentioned in the movie. But its omission tells you that realism is not exactly at the forefront of this tale.
Predictability is, however. There are little to no surprises here at all. Typecasting is apparently a priority as well. It feels like Paul Giamatti is almost always playing an all-knowing geeky scientist. He’s the one warning everyone about the coming destruction. And Johnson gives a by-the-book performance as our hero.
But credit must go to the screenwriters for at least having put slightly more thought into the usual natural disaster backstory than most films of this genre. The family drama at the heart of the story is actually more interesting than the complete obliteration of the USA’s most populous state.
But alas, people go these movies, not for the brilliant storylines or mind-blowing acting performances, but for the special effects. Yet, even that’s a mixed bag here. I’d say only about two-thirds of the visuals are impressive and even unsettling. There are moments, when visually, “San Andreas” is quite stunning. The rest of it, however, borders on the heights of cheesiness.
Cars topple over into the abyss. OMG! Were those toys? Our hero and his wife are zipping along on a speedboat down a river that used to be a San Francisco street. But they’re not getting wet and there’s no wind. Giant skyscrapers collapse like dominoes, and your mind wanders to the slightly better graphics you saw on recent video games.
But the most shocking thing of all is a ridiculous comment Johnson’s character makes at the end, and the surprisingly bizarre way U.S. patriotism is weaved into this story.
Some people might just prefer sitting through an actual earthquake!