As promised, ‘San Andreas’ is an action-adventure disaster film which sticks completely to its subject. The American drama film has a gripping start and the first half is worth watching as you will be stuck to your seats. Second half shows how the couple struggles to save their daughter while catastrophic natural disaster destroys the city.
At a glance, San Andreas might seem like a what-you-see-is-what-you-get disaster flick, but once you sit there with it, buy it a drink, and get to know it- San Andreas is much more than meets the eye. Writer Carlton Cuse (LOST, Bates Motel) and director Brad Peyton (Journey 2) managed to infuse San Andreas with layers of life which make watching the complete and utter destruction of California even more enthralling.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson dives into the role of rescue pilot Ray Gaines. He’s not your average rescue pilot…He’s the American Sniper of rescue of pilots with over 600 documented saves. Before you can realize the coming attractions have ended and San Andreas has begun, Ray springs into action to add another to his records.
It’s easy to see that Johnson gave his all to this role. He continues making strides in his acting career as far as loosening up and truly capturing the necessary emotions.
Emma plays Carla Gugino, Ray’s estranged wife who is living with building developer Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd). However, the separated parents come together when their teenage daughter Alexandra Daddario (Blake) who gets stuck in the quake hit region. Adding some love angle is Blake’s meeting with Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his obnoxious younger brother, Ollie (Art Parkinson). While the California is getting destructed due to the earthquake, Paul Giamatti as Lawrence Hayes, a seismologist, travels to Nevada to study a recent flurry of “mini-quakes” and gives lots of ‘gyaan’ over his study on earthquakes which is coming back to back and destroying L.A. and San Francisco simultaneously.
The one of many components of San Andreas is completely unrelated to Ray or his family with the exception of Archie Punjabi’s reporter character having interacted with both. Paul Giamatti plays Lawrence, a brilliant and good-hearted scientist who learns how to predict earthquakes moments before the largest in recorded history wreaks havoc throughout California. Never once do Giamatti and Johnson share the screen or even interact. In fact, San Andreas would have been just fine without Lawrence describing the enormity of the event or what was coming next but during the two-hour chaos fest the time spent away from the destruction is a breath of fresh air.
While there’s no astounding growth or arc in particular, the characters are delightfully memorable. Speaking of memorable, the most memorable aspect of San Andreas has to be the special effects. Visually, Brad Peyton, his cinematographer Steve Yedlin (who is set to take on Star Wars: Episode VIII), and the effects team put together one of the most visually stunning films in recent years. Even on the heels of the impressive, practical, stunt crazy Mad Max: Fury Road, San Andreas offers the best visuals audiences will want to feast their eyes on more than once. Even from the roof tops of buildings, no detail is spared as cars crash and humanity perils into mayhem on the ground levels of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
San Andreas may not be perfect, but mixed into it’s chaos and destruction are layers of heart and well-written plot. Never is there an easy way out or questionable character choice. Johnson pours everything he has into the role much like his character does with rescuing civilians and especially his family. The spectacle deserves to be watched on the biggest, highest quality screen possible surrounded by the loudest speakers in town.