I have a soft spot for disaster flicks so something like San Andreas, as goofy as it was featured solid visual effects and even with a thin plot the film still managed to entertain. The acting for what they were given wasn’t bad and once again Dwayne Johnson proves himself to be a great action hero.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 114 min. – $44.95 | October 13, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
I’ll get this out of the way: San Andreas is a dumb movie. I mean, really dumb and attempts to compete with Man of Steel for the mantle of which one could destroy more buildings. Amazingly enough, Andreas takes it… rather easily. As stupid as it is, however, I have to admit, I kind of was entertained by this flick which one could argue is a throwback to the disaster films of yesteryear, the most obvious being 1974’s Earthquake.
Raymond Gaines (DWAYNE JOHNSON) is an ace pilot flying for the L.A. Fire Department Air Rescue who, upon the film’s opening, makes a daring rescue, with the aid of his crew, of a young woman whose car tumbled down a ravine and got stuck with only a branch holding the car. Gaines is a father, and the verge of divorce from wife Emma (CARLA GUGINO), with plans for a trip to San Francisco with his daughter, Blake (ALEXANDRA DADDARIO).
Meanwhile, we also are introduced to Lawrence Hayes (PAUL GIAMATTI), a seismologist for Caltech who, with colleague Dr. Kim Park (WILL YUN LEE) have made a breakthrough in predicting upcoming earthquakes. While at the Hoover Dam, performing experiments to refine their process, a large quake strikes taking out the dam which sets off a chain reaction. Through some science-sounding mumbo-jumbo, Hayes realizes the previously unknown fault in Nevada is directly connected to the San Andreas Fault.
With the Nevada disaster, Gaines, who discovers his soon-to-be ex is moving in with her architect boyfriend Daniel Riddick (IOAN GRUFFUDD), must cancel is trip with Blake, though Daniel offers to fly her on his private jet in his stead. On his way to the Dam, he’s on the phone with Emma, who is having lunch with Riddick’s stuck-up sister (KYLIE MINOGUE), when the quake strikes Los Angeles so he turns back and commence the destruction porn with buildings crumbling when the 9.1+ quake hits. He manages to rescue her in the nick of time.
But it’s not nearly over with aftershocks and even strong quakes striking up and down California including San Francisco. There, while waiting in the lobby as Daniel is wrapping up business dealings, Blake meets Ben (HUGO JOHNSTONE-BURT), in town from England for a job interview, and his young brother Ollie (ART PARKINSON). There’s clearly a movie spark between Blake and Ben, of course. When Blake leaves with Daniel, the quake strikes sending their towncar down to the basement level, killing the driver and pins Blake’s legs underneath the front seat. Daniel proves to be our residential disaster flick jackass and abandons her to save his own ass though luckily Ben and Ollie are there to help and manage to free her. In. The. Nick. Of. Time. This will be a common thread, folks.
The rest of the movie is more or less split into two storylines: one with Ray and Emma going by air, land and sea to find their daughter and the other with Blake/Ben/Ollie navigating the chaotic streets of San Francisco. In between Hayes shows up, along with reporter played by Archie Panjabi formerly of “The Good Wife” fame, with his graphs and charts to tell audiences when the next big quake would strike.
Speaking of the acting, Dwayne Johnson proves to be on a winning streak between the Fast and Furious movies, which he was inserted to bolster box office receipts, and he carries the film quite well and opposite Carla Gugino, they at least play likeable enough characters, well likeable enough in terms of caring what happens to them. Young actors Alexandra Daddario and Hugo Johnstone-Burt do well enough in the quasi-side storyline.
On the other hand, Paul Giamatti was completely a waste and I’d say it’s the most he’s been underutilized but one has to remember he had a small role in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 so at least he has something to do here… In any case, Giamatti does provide some weight to this film even if one could’ve cut out that entire part and it’d hardly be missed. Oh, and Ioan Gruffudd, yeah, he gets the tired task of being the film’s residential asshole; every disaster flick needs one after all.
I have an affinity for these Hollywood disaster flicks from the overly serious (Airport), absolutely inane and cheesy (Volcano) and overly elaborate and lengthy (The Towering Inferno) and San Andreas fits right in, though understandably, some might find the visual effects heavy extravaganza overdoes it but for my money, the effects were, save for a couple questionable shots, were relatively impressive.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This 3-disc set comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case. The 2D and 3D discs are stacked on the one side. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Audio Commentary – Director Brad Peyton provides a light-hearted but still informative commentary outlying some of the technical details as well as working with the actors.
San Andreas: The Real Fault Line (6:23; HD) goes into the real fault line and the dangers it has as well as the liberties the filmmakers did to make the disaster film. It provides some behind-the-scenes footage, particularly the restaurant sequence done in only a couple of takes.
Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue (9:24; HD) is about the actor playing the hero of the film and showcases some of his stunt work.
Scoring the Quake (6:13; HD) centers on the score by Andrew Lockington.
Deleted Scenes (4:40; HD) – Here we get a few scenes that didn’t make the cut, mostly because they were unnecessary and added nothing to the plot or characters. However, there was clichéd scene excised where Giamatti’s character faces opposition from higher-ups to warn the citizens; happy that one was removed. These are accompanied with optional commentary with Peyton.
Rounding things out is a short Gag Reel (1:22; HD) and a Stunt Reel (2:56; HD).
2D VIDEO – 5.0/5 | 3D VIDEO – 4.5/5
San Andreas crashes and slams its way onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. Whatever you think about this movie, you know going in it’s going to be a visual feast. Detail is sharp and colors are bright and provide that pop off the small big screen; there were no major signs of aliasing, banding or artifacts.
The 3D transfer is impressive with incredible depth especially with the numerous action-oriented scenes though anything resembling the quieter moments are flatter, primarily those with Giamatti outside of the Hoover Dam sequence. Colors are still fairly vibrant and consistent and I didn’t notice signs of ghosting.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
But if the video wasn’t enough, the Dolby Atmos track (converts TrueHD 7.1 for those receivers unable to read Atmos) adds the major punch to complete the process. Between the two, this makes for reference quality material. Not only is there excellent crispness to the various elements from collapsing buildings as well as providing for clear dialogue levels throughout. However, it’s the LFE that ties it all together. My goodness, when those buildings crumble, the entire floor shakes with intensity yet there was an even manner to it.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, I have a soft spot for disaster flicks so something like San Andreas, as goofy as it was featured solid visual effects and even with a thin plot the film still managed to entertain. The acting for what they were given wasn’t bad and once again Dwayne Johnson proves himself to be a great action hero. This Blu-ray release from Warner is easily reference material between the excellent video transfer to the Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1) track which was downright astounding.
Brian Oliver aka The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.