With The Rock front and centre and the promise of seeing San Francisco destroyed by two earthquakes AND a tsunami, it’s clear that San Andreas is unashamedly tuning in to the brazen, often ludicrous tropes of the disaster movie genre with verve.
In San Andreas, LAFD chopper pilot and all-round good guy Ray Gaines (Johnson) has to use his skills to rescue estranged wife Emma (Gugino) after a huge earthquake levels LA and heads to San Francisco, where daughter Blake (Daddario) has been abandoned by her mum’s two-faced new boyfriend (Gruffard) and left to fight for survival with two sidekicks: Ben (Johnstone-Burt) and his little brother Ollie (Parkinson).
San Andreas feels a bit like an anachronism. This could easily have been a Roland Emmerich film circa 1999, it's all about one man desperately searching to reunite his family in a disaster scenario. But often it seems like a film rooted in another time, somewhat one dimensional when compared to bustling, adrenaline-fuelled action films we are so used to now. And for a film with such a big cast, it feels as though there is far more that could have been achieved in fleshing out some of the characters. For example, Gruffudd is excellent as the smarmy step-dad Daniel, and could really have done with some more screentime as he tried to save himself at the expense of others. Giamatti does deserve an honourable mention for playing the necessary science-wizard who tries to warn of the oncoming disaster but who no one will listen to for the first hour with a touch of nuance.
And as disaster / action films go, San Andreas has a lot to offer. The special effects are terrific, and get across the sense of mass destruction and peril that would actually occur in such a situation, without going too far over the top. It’s a fine line to walk but the film just about manages it. And Johnson absolutely shines in his role as the tough, brave family man. He seems believable in the role, but has a great energy and likability about him that makes you want to root for him. It’s just a shame that he didn’t have a few more one liners to take advantage of his superb comedic timing.
San Andreas is a silly but entertaining action movie, with a fantastic main star and an excellent if not slightly underused supporting cast. The effects are big, the plot is straightforwardand it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not going to re-invent the wheel in action terms, but there are certainly worse films to while away a couple of hours with on a Friday or Saturday night.
3D QUALITY ★★★★ San Andreas looks great in 3D at home – the 3D effects add a real immersive sense of scale and depth. And the resolution, colour reproduction and brightness are just as good as on the 2D Blu-ray. And the 3D, although not really essential to the story, is excellent. The best bit to watch in 3D? That would easily be the scene involving the tsunami taking out the Golden Gate Bridge...
EXTRAS ★★★ Not a bad collection at all. There's an audio commentary with director Peyton; the featurette San Andreas: The Real Fault Line (6:23); the featurette Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue (9:24); the featurette Scoring The Quake (6:13); nine Deleted Scenes, with an optional commentary from Peyton (4:40); a Gag Reel (1:22); and a Stunt Reel (2:56).