San Andreas is a typical American summer blockbuster. Think big action, cheesy dialogue, natural disasters and expensive special effects and you've got a good idea of what to expect.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays the action hero once again, this time as LA Fire Department search and rescue helicopter pilot Ray, who uses his company vehicle to save ex-wife Emma (Gugino) and daughter Blake (Daddario) when a massive earthquake devastates California.
San Andreas begins with Ray saving a young woman trapped in a car hanging over a cliff, and it's exciting stuff. The visuals get even better when the first earthquake strikes in Nevada and the Hoover Dam bursts. The fun's just beginning. Next, another massive earthquake brings Los Angeles to its knees; buildings sway and collapse, suburbs roll, and the Hollywood sign falls down. Which is nothing compared to the devastation when a magnitude nine shake hits San Francisco.
Needless to say, this is a disaster film akin to Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow or 2012. There's often a tipping point in heavily CGI reliant films where the action goes from thrilling and impressive to outright ridiculous. This moment comes when Ray and Emma try to outrun the crest of a tsunami, only to come face to face with the propellers of a container ship, and it becomes clear there's no more ignoring the improbabilities you're being sold.
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Also hard to swallow are the cliched conversations between Ray and his ex-wife about the demise of their relationship.
As millions of people are dying, cities are being destroyed and Ray neglects his job to save his family, there's little solace in Ray and Emma finally resolving the issues around their separation.
San Andreas is clearly meant to be pure popcorn entertainment, and it will thrill disaster movie fans, but considering our own shaky isles and the recent events in Nepal it's hard not to bristle occasionally.
Maybe, if this film has any purpose at all, it's to make us stop for a moment and think about the reality.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario
Director: Brad Peyton
Running Time: 114 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: Fun, but hardly seismic