SAN ANDREAS (USA/12A/114mins)
Directed by Brad Peyton. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti, Kylie Minogue, Todd Williams, Hugo Johnstone-Burt.
California finally looks set to fall into the sea after a massive earthquake brings America’s west coast to its knees, with the lucky ones getting to meet ace helicopter pilot Ray (Johnson), whose time flying missions in Afghanistan has come in pretty handy now for search and rescue around Los Angeles. Those benefitting from the big man’s expertise and dynamic personality include his soon-to-be ex-wife, Emma (Gugino) – who’s about to shack up with skyscraper developer Daniel (Gruffudd) – and their teenage daughter, Blake (Daddario), who is getting all tongue-tied and flirty with a Hugh Grant Lite called Ben (Johnstone-Burt). Oh, and the latter has a pain-in-the-ass, wisecracking younger brother, Ollie (Parkinson). Always good to have a main character who the audience actually wants to see perish. Horribly.
Having tried desparately to warn everyone that a hard rain was about to come is knotty professor Lawrence (Giamatti)…
THE VERDICT: If Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career were alive today, it might be making movies like this. Big, bold, traditional, predictable, and just a tiny bit meh.
Still, you’ve got to admire a movie that depicts the massive destruction of California, and yet tries to make the rest of the world actually feel upset. And you can’t help feeling that the three writers here must be Bill Hicks fan – California gets its ass kicked here big time.
Despite all the crash, bang, wallop of SAN ANDREAS though, it very rarely truly thrills. And that’s certainly not the fault of Johnson – this man knows how to do sincere, and he knows how to do tongue-in-cheek. Often at the same time.
I guess if anyone deserves a slap about the head and face, it’s director Brad Peyton, the man who previously gave us CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE and JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. So, make that three slaps around the head and face.
Review by Paul Byrne

San Andreas
Review by Paul Byrne
3.0Rarely truly thrills
  • filmbuff2011

    San Andreas is a throwback to 1970s disaster movies, but also done with a modern approach to spectacle. And what a spectacle. It features breathtaking, eye-watering scenes of destruction on a massive scale that would make even Roland Emmerich green with envy. It’s set in California, along the infamous San Andreas Fault which causes occasional tremors and minor earthquakes. That is, until now. When we first meet him, Fire Air & Rescue helicopter pilot Ray (Dwayne Johnson) is involved with a cliff-edge rescue. Afterwards, he hands over his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) to his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) for the weekend. She heads off to San Francisco with Emma and her new boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd). Meanwhile, Caltech scientist Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) becomes increasingly concerned when an earthquake destroys the Hoover Dam. This is just the beginning. The whole San Andreas fault is activating and a massive earthquake is heading towards Los Angeles and then San Francisco. Can Ray save his family from a force mightier than anything else? San Andreas is cheesy stuff – most of the characters are cardboard and one note and only serve one purpose e.g. Daniel – cowardly businessman who shows his true colours. There’s also a sense of predictability about it too – there’s no doubting the fact that Ray will survive. After all, he’s played by Dwayne Johnson. Man mountain v devastating earthquake – it’s obvious whose going to win. But the ever reliable Johnson is an effective hero, raising the film up on his broad shoulders as California falls apart. The film works best whenever he’s onscreen, while Giamatti makes a welcome appearance as a credible scientist. Though, it could be argued that the real stars of the show are the mechanical and visual effects departments. The scale of onscreen destruction is hugely impressive, particularly in eye-popping 3D. It looks realistic and jaw-dropping, as skyscrapers tumble like houses of cards. Los Angeles gets a good whacking, as if someone lifted up a carpet and gave it a thorough shake. That’s just the warm-up though for the main event – the mother of all earthquakes in San Francisco, which makes last year’s Godzilla look like a playground scrap in the city. Director Brad Peyton orchestrates the chaos with a sure hand, keeping the action moving and the pacing right at just under 2 hours. It may be flawed, but San Andreas sure is entertaining, unexpectedly funny at times and thrilling to boot. See it on the biggest screen you can find. ***

  • Martin

    So bad it’s good. Well maybe not good but it’s ok. It’s never going to be a classic and anyone thinking it was going to be up there with the best movies of the year are kidding themselves. It’s a pure popcorn movie and I do like them every now and again. It is what it is. A disaster movie with the Rock having to save the day. I wouldnt bother seeing this in 3D though, it feels like it was added on at the end and there is no need for it. Go see it if your tired and want to switch your brain off for two hours.

  • Liam Healy

    It was The Day After Tomorrow with less tornados. Always add MORE tornados. Good but not blockbuster title worthy.