Overall Grade: (B)
This one delivered exactly what it wanted, an epic disaster film that keeps you on the edge of your seat with clammy palms.
What do you get when you add one of the biggest names in Hollywood with the often enjoyable yet highly criticized genre of disaster films? You get the summer blockbuster “San Andreas” starring Dwayne Johnson as the highly determined father trying to save his broken family during a catastrophic series of earthquakes rocking the west coast.
The story-line is simple, neat and tidy, and does not get in the way of massive action-sequences featuring harrowing rescues, near death escapes and global destruction of massive scale all on display with stunning special-effects. Often a films trailer will give you glimpses of all the best action the film will end up having but not this one. From beginning to end, there is non-stop nail-biting moments that provide highly tense intrigue along the course of the fun (yet recycled) script that is woven around the theme.
Many will give this film a lower rating for the holes in the story and some of the varied inaccuracies in plot cohesiveness, lack of realistic scenarios – blah, blah, blah. That is not what “San Andreas” wanted to accomplish. They wanted to thrill the viewer as they tell a adventurous sage of survival while raising the level of damage to surpass prior disaster films. Going into this one with that mindset – this film is a rousing success. There is never a dull moment and you will find yourself sitting back with your jaw dropped and you palms clammy as you take in visuals unlike others you have seen.
Regardless of how common place the story-line may have been, it was still more than structured enough to fill the time between the over-the-top sequences of extremely detailed explosions, falling sky-scrapers and widespread chaos.
The cast all delivered great performances as well and in my opinion made they all most of the material to convey likable, strong characters. I also liked the detail in the actions of the characters of Emma (Gugino) and Blake (Daddario) by making them tough, independent, and highly capable characters who were able to take care of themselves.
This was something that stuck out to me, and I haven’t often seen in past films like this. It added a more compelling element to the story, and I would like to see more of this in future films. Doing this makes the entire cast strong and more important relevant to the story as well as being more believable in the situations the script puts them in. Much like the character Helen Hunt played in the 1996 disaster film “Twister”.
Dwayne Johnson was likable as always and pulled off the role of being a veteran leader of a helicopter rescue team. In my opinion, although all the cast was solid, the most enjoyable performance to me was that of Paul Giamatti. Amid all the disastrous catastrophes and the sequences high levels of craziness, his performance alone gives the film a serious tone whenever he is on screen and you definitely buy what he is selling.
This is a perfect summer film and if you want to sit back and enjoy what current day special-effects and 3D can deliver, then give this one a shot as soon as possible. There were so many moments from this one that create stunning visuals that come alive off the screen that you will remember them for some time. You can turn your ‘thinking cap’ off for this one and enjoy your popcorn while this adventure flick takes you on a fantastic ride.