Release Date: May 29, 2015
Running Time: 107 minutes
The Hover Dam bursts. The Hollywood Sign falls down. The Golden Gate Bridge collapses. Yes, San Andreas proudly deals in the kind of disaster porn that Roland Emmerich’s traded in for the past two decades. Not that director Brad Peyton’s Earthquake epic is as gleefully absurd as 2012 but at least it’s not as tedious or as scientifically unconvincing as The Day After Tomorrow. Peyton takes delight in almost wiping California off the map through a series of Richter scale-busting earthquakes that run all the way from L.A. to San Francisco. Never fear, Dwayne Johnson’s here to save the day. Well, only if you happen to be his relative. His L.A. Fire Department rescue-helicopter pilot abandons his post quicker than Paul Giamatti’s seismologist can scurry under a table to avoid falling debris. Johnson’s mission: to save his future ex-wife (Carla Gugino) and their daughter (Alexandra Daddario). Gugino’s trapped on the roof of a crumbling L.A. skyscraper; Daddario’s stuck in San Francisco and keeping two pasty Brits (the spunky Art Parkinson and the constipated Hugo Johnstone-Burt) from being buried alive or swept away in a tsunami. For what it’s worth, Johnson’s heroics are nowhere near as impressive as Daddario’s survival instincts. Unfortunately, a prior family tragedy casts such a shadow over Johnson’s efforts to rescue Daddario that it eliminates any fear that they won’t make it out of San Francisco alive. The lack of an Earthquake- or Poseidon Adventure-sized all-star cast also means that San Andreas has fewer colorful characters outside of Johnson’s family circle to invest in and worry about. The calm-and-collected Giamatti’s pretty much it, and he’s only in San Andreas to explain away the science behind the earthquakes. Otherwise, you can spot San Andreas’ victims the moment Peyton introduces them. Keeping a tight reins on the cast does allow Peyton and screenwriter Carlton Cuse sufficient time to explore the tense dynamic that exists within a family that must first move past one tragedy in order to survive another. Not that anyone is going to mistake San Andreas for The Impossible. Peyton’s priority is to first create as much chaos as possible and then to take us on a guided tour of the cities he destroys. The destruction feels overly familiar to anyone who has watched every disaster film from Earthquake to Deep Impact to 2012 but the scale of it is overwhelming. Peyton’s so intent on topping one catastrophe event after another that he forgets to generate any tension before or during them. Luckily for Giamatti, there’s always a table within diving distance to hide under when the ground begins to shake.
Aired: May 28, 2015
Web site: http://www.sanandreasmovie.com/