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San Andreas (Dwayne Johnson) - DVD Review

San Andreas

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

NO cliche gets missed in San Andreas, a stupidly enjoyable disaster movie with the emphasis on stupid.

For starters, there’s the all-American hero (and ex-soldier, played by Dwayne Johnson) looking for a shot at personal redemption as well as the chance to re-connect with his estranged family; then there’s the love rival and token British villain; followed by cheesy American patriotism and even a precocious kid who struggles to remain root-worthy. And that’s not forgetting the science boffin (played by the awards calibre actor, Paul Giamatti), whose warnings go unheeded until it’s too late.

Of course, all of this plays second fiddle to the destruction on show, which director Peyton Reed revels in delivering at breathless pace.

The disaster in question relates to the ticking time bomb that is the San Andeas fault, a stretch of land on America’s West Coast that is awaiting an earthquake of cataclysmic proportions.

When it hits, roads crumble, buildings tumble and a tsunami wave sweeps everything in its path.
Admittedly, the effects that capture all of this are impressive… and sometimes even frightening. Yet while the wow factor is there; the emotional punch is missing. This is another what if scenario that shows scant regard for the epic human suffering that would accompany such dramatic events.

Instead, we get token efforts. One victim selflessly throwing a child to safety before being swallowed into the Earth’s depths himself, or Everyman firefighter and helicopter pilot Ray (Johnson) desperately trying to save his soon to be ex-wife (Carla Gugino) and daughter (Alexandra Daddario).

In the case of the latter scenario, his desperation to save his family comes at the expense of doing his job and saving too many others (unless they are aiding his quest).

What keeps San Andeas afloat at all is the quality of its effects and the outrageousness of its set piece moments. Reed works tirelessly to keep the peril high and offers very little room to catch breath. You get swept along by the movie’s own tsunami of effects-laden carnage.

Johnson, too, remains an endearing presence and is genuinely affecting in one of the few intimate moments; while Gugino conveys fear and/or doting adoration well. Daddario, meanwhile, is suitably feisty as Ray’s daughter and Giamatti brings customary (but mis-placed) gravitas to the scientific stuff.

If only more care had been taken with the film’s plotting and script, San Andreas could have emerged as a genuinely thrilling throwback to the disaster flicks of Hollywood’s ’70s heyday (a la Earthquake and The Towering Inferno) or even the more recent Day After Tomorrow. Instead, it’s a guilty pleasure that fades all too quickly from the memory.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 106mins
UK DVD Release: October 12, 2015