San Andreas

 

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California suffers seismological devastation, but luckily The Rock is at hand….

 

San Andreas
  

For San Andreas read the San Andreas Fault. It’s an 810-mile fracture that extends through California and passes through such heavily populated areas as San Francisco and Los Angeles. And it’s been getting seismologists into quite a lather, especially as there hasn’t been a major earthquake along the southern stretch for 300 years. Furthermore, there’s considerable evidence of recent tectonic stress. San Andreas, the movie, then, is a complete disaster. Cinematically, Los Angeles has come under much environmental damage courtesy of 2012, Volcano and, of course, the 1974 Earthquake, with Charlton Heston. But special effects have come a long way since 1974 and what the Canadian director Brad Peyton unleashes here is significantly awesome. This being a disaster movie, though – and especially a disaster movie starring Dwayne Johnson – one shouldn’t expect too much subtlety or psychological complexity.

 

In contrast to the all-star Irwin Allen disaster movies of the 1970s, Brad Peyton has elected to focus on a single narrative strand, namely Dwayne Johnson’s search for his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Johnson plays Ray Gaines, a helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles Fire and Rescue Department, who’s in the process of a divorce (from Carla Gugino) and battling with the guilt over the death of his first daughter. Then Blake is stranded in San Francisco when the Big One (9.6 on the Richter scale) turns California upside down. It’s quite a spectacle: cityscapes ripple, bridges twitch, famous landmarks are shattered and shrapnel rains down on the fleeing thousands like hailstones. Of course, earthquakes are indiscriminate in how they take life: through fire, water, choking dust and any variation of collateral harm. San Andreas delivers all this in spades and it’s an intense experience. Scoff if you like – the film is guilty of a sprinkling of clichés and a few shoots of corn – but it is several megatons more satisfying than Mark Robson’s Earthquake. So, yes, it rocks.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Will Yun Lee, Kylie Minogue.

 

Dir Brad Peyton, Pro Beau Flynn, Screenplay Carlton Cuse, from a story by Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore, Ph Steve Yedlin, Pro Des Barry Chusid, Ed Bob Ducsay, Music Andrew Lockington, Costumes Wendy Chuck.

 

New Line Cinema/Village Roadshow Pictures/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Flynn Picture Company-Warner Brothers.

114 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 28 May 2015. Cert. 12A.