San Andreas is a really good disaster movie. The special effects are top notch, and it thinks of some clever ways to destroy things. However, as I sat there watching all of California getting ripped apart, I couldn’t help but wonder, what’s the point of all of this? I’ve enjoyed disaster movies before, but San Andreas showed me that I might officially be over this genre of movies.
The mistake San Andreas made is that it’s a pure disaster movie. You don’t get the inventive first person camera of Into the Storm or the added bonus of giant robots fighting giant aliens of Pacific Rim. You just get a super earthquake. While it looks neat, it’s still just an earthquake.
The film tries to draw you in deeper with the characters. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a search and rescue pilot who jumps into action when he learns his daughter is in danger in the quake zone. He spends most of the movie navigating quake ravaged California to get to her. I like Johnson as an actor despite the fact that his performances can sometimes feel a bit wooden, which is the case in San Andreas.
His daughter is played by Alexandra Daddario, a lesser known actress who should see her career blow up after the exposure this film brought her. Daddario is the best performer in the film, giving you someone to root for as she tries to survive the duration of the film. She’s charming yet tough, and plays the character well.
Here’s the thing, despite me having no issues with these characters, I also had no real ties to them. For this movie to rise above mediocrity, it needs you to emotionally invest in these characters. And I just couldn’t. I was hopeful that Daddario would live, but there wasn’t going to be any emotional reaction if she didn’t.
With no real emotional investment, San Andreas instead just becomes two hours of destructive spectacle. By the time the fifth building is falling over, the whole thing starts to lose a bit of steam. I felt like the constant one upmanship of disasters felt silly, especially towards the end. I could picture the writers of the film sitting around a table, tossing out ridiculous ideas on how things could keep getting worse for the characters.
Visually, San Andreas is quite a sight. It’s filled with pretty people and features some gorgeous special effects as California gets torn apart by super earthquakes. There’s just not much to the movie after that. In the end, it feels a bit heartless, and you come away feeling like you just watched some special effects demo. So while I enjoyed the ride, it’s hard to call this much more than a passable movie. If you’re interested in it, I’d suggest waiting a few months and then renting it.
ONE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie was rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language