Tuesday 16 February 2016


(Brad Peyton, 2015)

As a fully-fledged disaster movie made in the era where cgi makes more or less anything possible in cinema, San Andreas seems to take much of its narrative dynamic from gaming.
The dull family dynamics and relationships come from the disaster movies of yore alright - Dwayne Johnson's Rescue Helicopter Pilot is forced to search for his daughter (Alexandra Daddario) with the wife (Carla Gugino) he lost as a result of his inability to deal with the death of another daughter some years before, just as a series of massive quakes rocks California, largely destroying Los Angeles and San Francisco. Daddario is trying to escape the city with a couple of British brothers, injecting a cynical note of teen romance into the story.
Meanwhile, the Seismologist (Paul Giamatti) who has been predicting the Quake is stuck in his CalTech lab, trying to get the word out about the coming disaster through a reporter (Archie Panjabi).
But the way the set-pieces are put together feels like it has come from a computer game. Each scene features a series of ridiculous escalations. Johnson can't just save Gugino from a rooftop L.A. restaurant. The roof has to have collapsed. Flame has to explode through piles of the rubble. A nearby skyscraper has to collapse. A dust cloud must shoot up, almost enveloping them. The flight out must be around a series of skyscrapers, wobbling and shedding concrete like trees shed leaves in autumn.
A later escape out of the San Francisco bay over the oncoming tsunami can't just be as simple and dramatic as just an enormous tsunami. No. It has to involve a cargo liner appearing directly in their path atop that tsunami at just the wrong moment. Escaping the liner can't be enough. Metal shipping containers have to start toppling off the liner all around their tiny boat.
And so on.
Johnson and Gugino are fine - though they say "Oh my God" an awful lot - but it is overlong, under-dramatic and never all that interesting.

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