Thursday, May 28, 2015

San Andreas
Releases May 29th, 2015
1 hr 54 mins
Rated PG-13
Action/Adventure, Drama


Director: Brad Peyton
Writer: Carlton Cuse

Dwayne Johnson as Chief Ray Gaines
Carla Gugino as Emma, Ray's ex-wife
Alexandra Daddario as Blake Gaines, Ray's estranged daughter
Paul Giamatti as Lawrence
Ioan Gruffudd as Daniel Riddick
Archie Panjabi as Serena
Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Ben
Art Parkinson as Ollie
Colton Haynes as Joby
Todd Williams as Marcus Crowlings
Matt Gerald as Harrison
Will Yun Lee as Dr. Kim Chung
Kylie Minogue as Susan Riddick

Review by Stephen M.

Director Brad Peyton reunites with actor Dwayne Johnson on the earth shaking film San Andreas.  As with most natural disaster films, what we are really attracted to are the special effects in seeing our cities reduced to rubble.  While the film doesn't disappoint in this aspect, the shoddy acting and uninteresting characters married to an all too predictable plot makes this film less enjoyable than you would hope.

Dwayne Johnson plays Chief Ray Gaines who is a pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter rescue team.  The filmmakers attempt to give him different layers of character from his anguish in dealing with the loss of a daughter in the past to his wife separating from him.  As well we get glimpses of Dwayne's charismatic personality here and there which you would think make for an interesting character but for the most part is just a one dimensional character.  This can be said the same for most of the other main characters as well including Carla Gugino who plays Emma, Ray's ex-wife.  Why is her character smiling while talking about the past death of one of their daughters?

Besides the characters, there are just too many things you can nitpick from the intelligence insulting opening scene, to the fact that Ray can just fly off with his work's helicopter alone to fly across cities to rescue his family and only his family during a natural disaster.  Or how about the fact with the other boats having a head start, Ray happens to steal the fastest boat that outraces them as the tsunami comes?

Despite these things, there are some bright sides to the film, besides the aforementioned destruction.  With the PG-13 rating, there is a lack of gore and on screen deaths but rather more implied.  Making the film more family friendly are the good performances but the "kids" of the film led by Alexandra Daddario who plays Ray's daughter Blake.  Showing that she is just more than a pretty face, her interaction with the brothers (Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Ben, and Art Parkinson as Ollie) she meet adds some levity to the film.  I also enjoyed the limited performance by Paul Giamatti as Lawrence, a professor at Cal Tech who along with his colleague can predict earthquakes.

With lowered expectations, San Andreas can be a fun action flick to enjoy this summer.  But for a more enjoyable natural disaster film, watch either The Day After Tomorrow or 2012.  Watch it safely on the East Coast though, where while there are fault lines, a San Andreas's type event is less likely to happen to disturb your viewing pleasure.  The film is rated a bit higher than I would normally only because of my love of natural disaster films.


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