Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s action flick, San Andreas, is everything you’d expect from this kind of film: a series of special effects-heavy natural disasters, death and destruction, and scenes of phony emotions, put in almost as afterthoughts.
A seismologist at California Institute of technology, Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giametti) and some of his colleagues discover a way to predict earthquakes. On the very day they prove their method works, the largest earthquakes ever measured are triggered all along the San Andreas Fault where two large tectonic plates meet right along California. The results are catastrophic, the loss of life and damage, enormous.
Amid this, Los Angeles fire and rescue service helicopter pilot, Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson), teams up with his estranged wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), to find their daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who is stuck in quake-ravaged San Francisco. The street-smart (or rather, disaster-smart) Blake manages to stay ahead of crashing buildings, aftershocks and a massive tsunami, all the while keeping two British brothers alive. At the same time, Hayes uses the help of a hot television journalist to try and hack networks, and warn people that they need to evacuate, as more earthquakes are coming.
There really is very little else to say about San Andreas’ plot. The film is big on effects rather than script and acting. It’s basically one big CGI showcase that shows off “The Rock’s” muscles. There’s an attempt to pump a bit of feeling into the awkward chopper ride Ray and Emma takes, when Ray reveals his guilt that he was unable to save the couple’s other daughter, who drowned when the two when rafting. It’s forced, feels false and it’s completely unnecessary in this kind of film.
It’s almost laughable when an elderly couple is shown hugging and standing still, instead of running away when a massive tsunami bears down on them (it’s just too much like the scene in Titanic where another elderly couple lie down together in their cabin instead of trying to escape).
A disaster movie would not be complete without some tacky one-liners and good ol’ American solidarity. As the reunited Gaines family surveys the damage at the end of the film, Emma asks “What now?”. Ray replies, “Now we rebuild”, as a dirty, yet miraculously intact Star-Spangled Banner unfurls from the twisted metal of what was once the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you want to see all the latest computer graphic techniques in action, this is for you. Otherwise… it’s just another disaster movie. Yawn.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giametti
South African release date: 26 June 2015