Dwayne Johnson has taken on some formidable foes and 'disasters' throughout his career. Although, his latest project - San Andreas - puts him face to face with the biggest, baddest antagonist yet, Mother Nature, as our hero quite literally takes on a disaster and one hell of a one it is too.
The plot of the film is quite simple, really. When Paul Giamatti's scientist and university lecturer realises that a monumental earthquake is set to shake the West Coast of America, he tries his best to warn the public. However, he's too late and, when the earthquake does eventually hit, it's the biggest one the world has ever seen and the consequences are colossal.
This is where Johnson comes in, playing Los Angeles Fire Departmemt helicopter pilot Chief Ray Gaines, who gets caught up in all the widespread chaos and hell. With his soon-to-be-ex wife Emma (the always stunning Carla Gugino) by his side, the two set out to San Francisco, in hopes to save their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Thrown into the mix - for good measure - is a romance between Blake and, the boy she's stranded with, Hugo Johnstone-Burt's Ben, as well as a subplot involving Ray and Emma's divorce and the asshole boyfriend, Ioan Gruffudd, who gets in the way to make the situation more complicated.
Now, we've seen a lot of big-disaster films over the years. But they never result in anything more than epic spectacles, each and every one showcasing some stunning CGI work but hitting the same clichéd, tedious beats in the plot and character aspects. San Andreas is no different and doesn't exactly break any new ground in the genre. There's just so much going on that the film gets a little messy and too convoluted for its own good.
The film - as any disaster movie does - tries to really flesh out its core handful of characters; get us to empathise and connect with them. But, whilst our protagonists are solid, it all feels too exaggerated and contrived. We have the usual, generic family dynamic at play here and, whilst the cast is great, these character's don't have enough depth and humanity for us to really attach to them - enough to care about what happens to them. The dialogue between them is all a bit too cheesy and all the character development can get a bit tedious and boring at times too.
That's not too say the acting's bad. It's really not. Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario are both pretty women to look at and they both give good performances in their roles. However, the emotion from the latter can seem a little too OTT and surreal at times. Ioan Gruffudd plays your typical asshole. We then also have Paul Giammati, who - aside from Johnson - is probably the best in this film. The man is an immensely talented actor and is here to give us all the science behind what's going on - so everything has an explanation. He's not in the film a lot though and feels underused, which is the one downside. Overall, the acting is fine, to be fair.
Of course though, this is Dwayne Johnson's film and he really steals the show here. I'm a huge fan of his work and he really brings a great charisma and energy to the proceedings. Johnson has become a megastar and he really does carry San Andreas and make it the film it is. Without him, this film would be a whole lot more terrie. His action hero persona and witty humour adds a whole layer to the picture and really brightens up the screen. It's quite clear why this man is rapidly becoming one of Hollywood's biggest stars; he has a fantastic personality and the ability to really sell any film he stars in.
As far as the film itself goes, the plot loses its footing at times and gets really bogged down with all sorts of other storylines which we, frankly, don't care about. It all gets a bit much. However, if there's one thing this project knows how to do... it's entertain, because this is your typical, big-budgeted, Summer blockbuster. It's a mind-numbing 2 hours to shut your brain down, shove popcorn in your face and just feast your eyes.
The SFX is all stunning and the CGI is seamless and looks gorgeous - especially in IMAX. This is disaster-film porn; from explosions to falling buildings to collapsed skylines and more. We've seen it all before though. San Andreas is basically just a regurgitation of 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow and every other generic film of this sort, playing to the same rhythm. That's not a bad thing though. In fact, it's better than the majority of them. This is a fun thrill ride. The film is aware of what it is and it embraces that. It's here to entertain. Sure, it has many flaws but it's no Awards contenders. It's a Summer film and it's a dumb, clichéd film but it achieves what it sets out to do so it gets some brownie points for that.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.