Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario
Directed by: Brad Peyton
“San Andreas” wastes no time in dunking audiences into a pool of action-disaster movie clichés.
The movie marks the second time that director Brad Peyton has teamed up with Dwayne Johnson, following “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” (2012). It might be the lack of an impressive résumé that led to Peyton’s style in “San Andreas” — a finished product that reminds audiences of “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow” due to the formulated storyline and character design.
The movie begins with Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson),a Los Angeles Fire Department rescue helicopter pilot, whosaves lives and kicks ass. Gaines represents the cliche action hero who can fix anything but his own personal life — he’s an estranged father whose wife is leaving him for a rich man. After a devastating earthquake hits Los Angelesand separates his family, Ray reunites with his wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), and saves their daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Despite the family’s reunion,the quake buries San Francisco under water and rubble.
Besides some slight differences in the characters, “San Andreas” simply copies every other disaster movie. The strong and brave male protagonist? Check. The damsel in distress? Check. The utter destruction of a city shown in passable CGI? Check. The dialogues are also predictable and the acting is over the top.
Unlike in the “Fast and Furious” series or “G.I. Joe Retaliation” where his signature grin and muscles go hand in hand with the fighting and driving, Johnson’s performance in “San Andreas” lacks genuine emotion. Johnson still shows off his action skills as the quintessential male protagonist, but the father figure obviously requiresmore tenderness and subtlety. Johnson’s laughs and cries seem forced compared to the type of performances he is more comfortable with, for example, in “Pain and Gain,” in which he plays a cocaine-addicted ex-convict who becomes a Christian.
The lazy script didn’t help the actors either.
Blake (Daddario) only just met her love-at-first-sight, Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), and the two were willing to give up their lives for each other. The overuse of the line “Oh My God” in this movie didn’t help the audience make a deeper emotional connection with the characters or the story, either.
There’s also room for improvement in the acting department. When the entire city of San Francisco is leveled, the close-up reactions of the actors are exaggerated and don’t connect well with the audience.
The movie is doused with CGI and special effects that eventually make all the scenes blend together. Except for the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood sign, it’s hard to know which buildings went under quickerin the earthquake.While the over-edited dust and smoke intensify the disaster, the graphics overshadow the story.
Disaster movies have always been a Hollywood favorite. They’re no-brainer crowd pleasers compact with all the ingredients for a successful movie — thrilling action, stunning visuals, rollercoaster-like emotions and often, a happy ending with a message. Sadly, these mass produced, formulated movies often do not have too much room for creativity or innovation. If you don’t mind a cheesy, cliché disaster flick, “San Andreas” will have everything you expect.