Summer is almost upon us, and it’s time for the first blockbuster with director Brad Peyton and Warner Bros. Pictures rattling our nerves with “San Andreas.”
Ray (Dwayne Johnson) is a rescue chopper pilot excited about taking his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) to college. Not so thrilling is learning that soon-to-be ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) has moved in with boyfriend Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd) before there is any ink on the divorce papers.
There are bigger things on the horizon. A team from a local university, led by Lawrence (Paul Giamatti), believe they have discovered a way to predict earthquakes. Their find is a tad to late, however, as the ground begins to shake. Lawrence puts together the pieces to discover that there is something major about to happen on the San Andreas fault line.
Ray must go help victims of the smaller quakes while daughter Blake hops a ride with Riddick to San Francisco — who stops at his building for work. Blake meets Ben (Hugo Burt) and his little brother Ollie (Art Parkinson) and there are sparks.
The ground shakes even harder when Blake and Riddick try to run, but when the young woman is trapped in a car, it is Ben and Ollie who rescue her. The quakes hit harder as Ray must rescue Emma and head to San Francisco to save their daughter.
The ground shaking and the earth quaking may have something to say about that!
Johnson as Ray is large and in charge for sure. From the moment he is on screen, the charm he has become known for comes out. He is strong, smart, gentle, sweet and even sheds a tear or two for love. Once he puts his emotions out on the plane wing, he’s right back in action mode taking the planet on with choppers, planes, trucks, parachutes, speed boats and anything else he can get his muscle-bound hands on. They certainly got the right guy for this role.
Gugino as Emma is a wife trying to fill an empty space left by a family accident and Ray’s inability to talk about it. Becoming trapped on top of a building in Los Angeles as the earth rattles below does change a person’s perspective about life and family. It also doesn’t hurt to discover your boyfriend is a scumbag, as Gruffudd gets the chance to shed the good-guy film image.
Daddario as Blake is a smart gal in many respects, which is easy considering The Rock is your dad right? She also gets the chance to be the super heroine saving Ben and Ollie more than they save her, but it all evens out in the end as love conquerors the earth… or something mushy like that.
Giamatti as Lawrence gets to be the bearer of bad news by announcing the shaking will be so bad they will “feel it on the east coast.” Please, east coasters are used to rattling but in their case its called a hurricane. This isn’t a great acting feat for Giamatti but I enjoy seeing him just the same.
Other cast include: Archie Panjabi as Serena, Will Yun Lee as Dr. Park, Kylie Minogue as Susan Riddick, Colton Haynes as Joby, Todd Williams as Marcus and Matt Gerald as Harrison.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “San Andreas” four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Why? First, its fun and second, and more importantly, I just love a good disaster film. Seriously, if a film house or television station did an all day disaster marathon I would yell, “Shut up and take my money!”
Everyone knows I hate 3D, and even that isn’t a strong enough word for it. I have only seen it done once or twice where I actually admitted to enjoying it. In the case of “San Andreas,” I wouldn’t have had a problem with it being in IMAX instead of 3D. It just isn’t necessary anymore, but in the case of this film it’s not really noticeable to me at least.
The CGI is actually pretty cool with quakes, buildings toppling like a house of cards and the tsunami was pretty impressive, or maybe I was just impressed with the way Johnson handled it — boat and all. That’s what disaster movies are all about, getting the biggest and baddest special effects. That’s important since the storyline is a tad bit on the mish-mashed side.
I let it pass because I went in knowing this wasn’t going to be big on story but huge on action. That’s what makes this film so crazy fun! Go for the thrill of it and walk out knowing you survived the big one.
Since I was a kid (yea, do the math) I have absolutely loved disaster films. From the “Airport” films (1970, ‘75, ‘77 and ‘79), to “Towering Inferno” (1974), “Earthquake” (1974), “Posiedon Adventure” (1972), “Volcano” (1997), “Armageddon” (1998), “Dante’s Peak” (1997), “Twister” (1996), “Deep Impact” (1998), “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), “Knowing” (2009) and “2012” (a personal favorite) — I’m all in!
Each film gets bigger and bigger, but there isn’t much more to destroy. It seems the films are just changing location, but I’ll still be watching. You can only shake up California so much — so let’s see where the next disaster hits.
In the end – when the ground shakes the strong survive!