Time for some spectacle. So this is about a helicopter pilot/rescue specialist (Dwayne Johnson). He’s great at what he does, but he’s got his work cut out for him when the state of California faces the largest chain reaction of earthquakes this world has ever seen. His number one priority? Making sure his family is safe. I’m not secretive about my mancrush on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The man is walking charisma, and I will watch anything that he stars in. He has the ability to single-handedly elevate something that should be pedestrian and even mediocre to be mostly enjoyable, and I am talking about movies like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and Race to Witch Mountain. He makes San Andreas watchable, despite there being plenty of half-baked elements to it.
This is a dumb disaster movie, which makes it kind of curious on why Johnson is emoting so hard; seriously, he is acting his ass off and giving it his all, which is crazy to me, because he could have phoned this in completely and nobody would have even blamed him. I don’t know if he missed the memo that this isn’t high end material, but it is nevertheless pleasing in a movie where you would never expect it at any point walking in. Also helping bolster the cast is Paul Giamatti, who is, as far as I’m concerned, welcome in any movie. He always shows up to work because he’s a pro, and I respect him for that. That said, he’s playing a seismologist, and he is in charge of selling the science of it all, which is a tall order to fill given the intelligence of the script, or rather lack thereof.
I’m not saying that San Andreas is not enjoyable, because it is. The special effects are well-rendered, and the bigger the screen you watch this on, the more the spectacle is going to wow you. That said, you have to turn off your brain to get past the stupidity of the script, and as good as the special effects look, I always felt like I was looking at a special effect. Really, this is an updated 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and every other disaster movie Roland Emmerich has made in the past 2 decades. You eat your popcorn, and you watch people trying to outrun nature. I did get a kick out of the disaster movie tropes, like having a character so slimy that he is throwing characters into the destruction so he can survive, and how they ended it on the expected line, “Now we rebuild.” San Andreas is watchable and holds your attention, just don’t go in expecting an instant classic.
San Andreas (2015) ***
– Critic for Hire