By Matthew Shults
The first major disaster movie of 2015, San Andreas stayed true to its genre with beautifully orchestrated destruction and the levelling of entire cities. Unfortunately, the film’s plot, like it’s cities, fell flat. As a result, San Andreas is a fast-paced action flick, but too poorly developed to truly immerse audiences.
After the infamous San Andreas Fault in California finally gives, triggering a magnitude 9 earthquake in California, a search and rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne Johnson) and his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter (Alexandra Daddario). The audience is thrust into a frenetic story, with more emphasis on destruction rather than plot line.
Above average special effects and cinematography may be the sole purpose of enjoyment for many. Sweeping aerial shots of the destruction go a long way to show the extent of the damage caused and ups the peril for the main characters.
However, the plot line of San Andreas is mediocre and it delivers itself as a standard disaster movie. The film is poorly written, lacking both plot and character depth. Actor Ioan Gruffudd is stuck in the role of Emma’s new, cowardly boyfriend, whose sole job is to cheer audiences with the prospect of his death. Even an acclaimed star like Paul Giamatti can do little with his stiff, stressed dialogue. San Andreas tries to compensate for half-drawn characters with exciting action, but falls short.
Ultimately, flat characters and plot make it difficult for audiences to believe in the world of San Andreas, despite the realistic quality of the film’s visuals. While it’s not up there with some of the great disaster movies like Independence Day, Deep Impact, etc., it still allows for an enjoyable couple of hours in the cinema simply because of interesting shots, like an indescribable tsunami enveloping the Golden Gate Bridge.
Brad Peyton’s direction is particularly effective during the brisk scenes of disaster, from the falling of Hoover Dam to the snapping of the Golden Gate Bridge. But his admirable direction ends whenever the screen isn’t filled with crumbling buildings or risky shots of The Rock saving a stranded victim.
San Andreas adds to the list of summer blockbusters that sway on the border of entertaining and mediocre, if not drawing the middle line itself and standing right on it. In the end, for better or for worse, rampant destruction wins the day.