Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has done a lot of things to promote his latest movie San Andreas; he’s broken the world record for most selfies taken with fans and even gotten a marriage licence in order to marry a super fan/internet personality. Unfortunately all these things are far more impressive than the film itself.
San Andreas tells the “story” of Ray Gains, a helicopter rescue pilot who tries to save his estranged wife and daughter’s lives when… well, when the entirety of California is destroyed by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded. You’ve seen this sort of film before, usually directed by Roland Emmerich, and you know what to expect; adequate (albeit obviously CGI) special effects, buildings blowing up and endless people fruitlessly running from impending doom before being swept up by debris, waves, or flames. These films are generally not fun at all – disaster porn utilising our fear of death and destruction to try and squeeze whatever emotion they can out of things that actually happen. This particular film has not been released at a great time, with Nepal still desperately trying to recover from its own disastrous earthquake. Unfortunately San Andreas can’t cut out a scene or change an ending, the whole bloody film is about earthquakes and death.
This is just the film you would expect from the director of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore… rubbish, however, there is some enjoyment to be had; The film takes itself quite seriously, truly believing that you are emotionally invested and shocked by the events unfolding (9/11 references pop up quite frequently), and in its sincere attempts to make us care hilarity unfolds. When Ioan Gruffudd’s millionaire property developer says he didn’t have time to have kids he was too busy “raising” these, as he points to a picture of a skyscraper, the music swells and the film genuinely tries to get us to care… well at the screening I was in the audience burst into laughter. There are quite a few moments where the only logical response is to laugh and that is where the real fun is to be had. Too often big blockbusters or B-Pictures have a tongue in cheek, we know this is silly, wink-wink tone that pretends that the film is in on the joke; San Andreas, however, has no idea just how stupid it is. Whether it’s The Rock staring intently at the American flag or Paul Giamatti’s scientist telling people to get off a bridge that is already in the process of collapsing there are joys to be had. Word of caution, booze may be required to truly harness these moments of nonsense – thank god I saw it half cut.
San Andreas is a poorly made film. It really isn’t very good at all. I’ve no intention to ever see it again but at the end of this screening I joined in happily with the ironic applause.
Genre: Action, Drama | Distributor: Warner Bros | Release Date: 28th May 2015 (UK) | Rating: 12A | Director: Brad Peyton | Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Hugo Johnstone-Burt