San Andreas is a fault line that extends through a large majority of California and is overdue for a BIG earthquake. “It’s not a matter of if but when” is the premonition that Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) a professor of seismology gives his class at Caltech, and after years of research into the prediction of earthquakes, his results finally take a significant turn. But of course, like any good disaster film, he is too late.
If that doesn’t sound like a great disaster movie premise, then just you wait because guess who gets to play hero in between flexing his muscles and delivering corny patriotic one liners? You guessed it, Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson plays the dual role of Ray, rescue-chopper pilot plus part time dad. Unfortunately, the dad end of the deal is looking a bit grim, as his wife Emma (Carla Gugino), for some unknown reason, has left her workaholic, two words a day muscle mass for a millionaire architect (Ioan Gruffudd), and is taking their beautiful, 20 something daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario) with them. Sorry, not sorry.
Before we get the chance to get over Daddario’s dazzling blue eyes (are they real?!) or even start contemplating how Emma and Daniel got together, we are whisked back to the parallel story of frazzled Lawrence who after going through an unspeakable incident concerning the Hoover dam, is now trying to issue a media warning to “get the heck out of San Fran!”. Which is, surprise, surprise, exactly where beautiful Blake is.
Cue deaths, the destruction of architectural icons, explosions, several floods and the introduction of a British love interest (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), we experience the mother of all earthquakes at 9.6 on the Richter scale. San Francisco certainly pulled the short straw with this natural disaster. It almost feels like a Final Destination movie where you think to yourself that “it can’t get worse than that… but oh, wait, yup it does”. However in saying that, nothing is quite as frightening as the brothers’ fake British accents and… OMG! is that Kylie Minogue?!
But have no fear! Eveready super heavy Johnson is always ready to save the day! Whether it be jumping off a plane, swimming through rubble or crash landing in a parking lot, the “Rock’s” got your back. In this way, where San Andreas lacks in original characters and storyline, it redeems itself with amped up visual effects and adrenaline pumping “fight or flight” scenarios. Daddario also stands strong amongst the rubble of San Fran and is a very confident, impressive character. Johnson gets jealous of her performance and manages to squeeze out a tear to show that even rocks have feelings too.
Much like the tectonic shelf that it derives its name from, San Andreas certainly does have its faults. However, if you disregard the fact that Blake’s makeup is perfect throughout the whole movie and instead laugh at the scenes with blatant patriotism and corny one liners, San Andreas becomes a paradoxically fun disaster film.
On a more poignant note, in the light of the recent Nepal earthquakes San Andreas shows a glimpse of the true horrors of natural disasters. Warner Bros in conjunction with the release of San Andreas is donating a large amount to help Nepal and earthquake victims, and is running a campaign about safety procedures in the aftermath of earthquakes.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time: 114 minutes
San Andreas is screening nationally in Australian cinemas from 28th May 2015 through Roadshow Films