Review by Gavin Miller:
There might be an abundance of shaky genre clichés and structural cracks to this disaster movie – but Dwayne Johnson again proves to be as solid as a rock.
The man formerly known as ‘The Rock’ pulls this big-budget film – with a B-movie heart – through this earthquake catastrophe zone, to provide a spectacle that is a exactly what a ‘leave your brain at the door’ blockbuster is all about.
Just don’t expect anything more than that – as the story is as generic and as far-fetched as they come.
With more than a hint of past disaster films to it – like The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, Daylight and Volcano – San Andreas knows what it is, and doesn’t pretend to be anything else other than that, with loads of ‘green screen’ visual effects that are mostly the right side of impressive.
At least it shows Johnson can headline a summer ‘tentpole’ film by himself after a $115 million opening weekend across the globe – this time starring as nigh-on super-human rescue-chopper pilot Ray Gaines.
Despite some cringeworthy lines – that are pure ‘cheese on toast’ – and a remarkable ability to stumble across exactly the person he’s looking for among thousands, Johnson’s presence stops the film from crumbling, with the help of an amiable cast.
His co-stars include Ray’s daughter Blake (super-fit Percy Jackson star Alexandra Daddario, who stays pretty much immaculate throughout), ex-wife Emma (Johnson’s Race to Witch Mountain co-star Carla Gugino), her new boyfriend Daniel (Fantastic Four’s Ioan Gruffudd) – and even Kylie Minogue is thrown in for a wooden cameo.
But the real comic-relief comes in the form of posh British brother duo Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and Ollie (Art Parkinson) – who grow on you throughout the duration despite the potential to have been quite annoying – as Journey 2 director Brad Peyton takes you from the Hoover Dam, to Los Angeles, then to San Francisco, as California’s San Andreas fault line provides the world with the biggest earthquake ever.
This is detected – as part of the movie’s accompanying side-story – through Oscar-nominee Paul Giamatti’s (Sideways) Caltech seismologist Lawrence Hayes, who along with news reporter Serena (Archie Punjabi), get the story out to the world to try and prevent further loss of life, which there are many.
Add in some earth-shattering set-pieces – including a gigantic tsunami which throws cruise-liners across the Bay Area – then this just about provides exactly what a ‘popcorn cruncher’ should.
If you’re looking for someone to cook up box-office reliability – there’s no-one better in Hollywood at the moment than Johnson.