San Andreas review

Brad Peyton
Dwayne Johnson
Carla Gugino
Alexandra Daddario
Ioan Gruffudd
Paul Giamatti
Rated: PG-13

Bring your checklist of famous landmarks and be ready to check them off one by one as they get destroyed.

The major California fault-line goes wild in “San Andreas,” a film that centers on the scenario of a huge earthquake hitting the West Coast. Ray, played by Dwayne Johnson, is a fire-rescue first responder who has main duties in helicopter rescues.

In his personal life, Ray is currently trying to deal with the divorce between he and his wife, Emma, played by Carla Gugino, which has put a strain on the relationship with his daughter Blake, portrayed by Alexandra Daddario. The family has to come together, though, once the earthquake hits the metropolitan areas and causes widespread destruction.

Along with the powerful earthquakes in “San Andreas” are the massive clichés. A married couple going through difficult times, check. A father with a strained relationship with his children, check. A group of scientists who predicted this and probably weren’t listened to as much as they should have been, check.

So much of the film is predictable, to the point where a person can see exactly how a scene is going to unfold as things progress.

Additionally, the movie is a bit bloated with unnecessary drama. Without revealing too much, the family in the movie had a tragedy a few years ago they are still trying to deal with, however, it wasn’t necessary. There was a situation with the earthquakes at hand.

With all that said about the film’s overall story and how it’s executed, though, “San Andreas” is still a pretty good time. The earthquake scenes and destruction are fast-paced, engaging and exciting. And while there were some hokey moments, Ray and Emma having to change vehicles every 15 minutes, for example, it’s still a satisfying experience. Especially if you go in looking for a thrilling blockbuster.

Speaking of the characters, the lead protagonist is pretty good, less because of the writing and more so due to Johnson’s charm. In the last few years Johnson has become a fairly serviceable actor and is often likable on screen and his performance in “San Andreas” works.

The one who really steals every scene he is in, though, is Paul Giamatti who plays the scientist Lawrence at the California Institute of Technology. While some of his dialogue was a bit cheesy, Giamatti delivers it solidly and is very convincing in the role. In fact, Giamatti was likely the best part of the film.

One character that could have been cut from the movie entirely was Daniel, played by Ioan Gruffudd. He is Emma’s new boyfriend at the start of the film. Daniel is wealthy but is also a complete slimeball, so much so it was too over the top, even for a movie like this. His character was more of a plot device than an actual important part of the movie.

Surprisingly the younger characters, Blake and two brothers, Ben, played by Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Ollie, played by Art Parkinson, were pretty good in this film. There are times when younger characters in these types of movies can be a bit too bratty or make bad decisions. This isn’t the case here. The characters were actually believable and the performers made their scenes work.

What this movie gets right is the spectacle. “San Andreas” delivers from a visual and sound standpoint. The destruction is in your face and ultimately makes for a fun time at the theater, despite a few moments of being too ridiculous.

“San Andreas” is one of the better disaster films to be released over the past few years. It is loaded with clichés and the characters aren’t written all that well, however, the acting, mainly from Johnson and Giamatti is good and the exciting action can keep a person on the edge of their seat. High 3 out of 5.

This review was first published in the May 29th edition of the Wahpeton Daily News

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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