San Andreas (2015)
A rescue pilot survived an earthquake, this is what happens next
The Rock vs the rock we know as Earth? I'll watch it - in fact I did watch it just before writing this. Put on your disaster goggles but set your mind to action-flick, cause this promises to be a bumpy ride. I'm sure I could shake out a few more earthquake jokes, but let's just tumble on over to the main part and see if the movie was a disaster or it really rocks.
A woman is driving down the road - deciding to be distracted by everything in the five minutes or less we see her on screen, and yet magically managing to not only stay in her lane but also not cause a traffic accident on this cliff-side road. That change's pretty quick when she's blindsided by a rock-slide that tumbles her car end-over-end down the steep embankment until she's flung from the front seat when it finally comes to a rest vertically over a precarious chasm of doom. Search and rescue is quick to answer the call, and they pull some fancy flying maneuvers to park their helicopter in the perfect spot to save the girl - although the rescue attempt certainly doesn't go off without a hitch. Still, the girl rescued, the damaged chopper returned for maintenance, our hero heads home to get ready to go and pick up his daughter for some fun times before her big volleyball game.
Some divorce papers and implied trauma put a bit of damper on the mood - only for that mood to be brought way down when an earthquake destroys a rather well known dam where a couple of science-types were proving their theory on predicting earthquakes. Thanks to the worst mother ever, one of them doesn't make it out alive, but all of that is unbeknownst to our hero - he just knows he's now on duty to rescue the victims of the treacherous curtain of water that just descended upon many an unsuspecting persons. The mother's new boyfriend opts to take the daughter with him to LA for him though, and our hero's entire situation gets a bit more uncomfortable with the news of them moving in with the new boyfriend. Drama!
The drama really is just over the horizon however. The surviving scientist and his college-crew discover that progressively worse earthquakes are about to shake the plates around the San Andreas fault - and the worst is to come, and heading straight for LA. While calling in to apologize for his earlier actions to his wife, our hero finds her plunged into the midst of one such earthquake while at a lunch, and redirects the rescue helicopter he happens to be flying in for maintenance to go save her. Chaos is everywhere, but it turns out they haven't seen the half of it and soon get a call from their daughter whose trapped under some rubble whilst the wife's boyfriend has run off like a coward. After reception is lost (presumably from cell towers being taken down from the shaking), some British boys she made friends with come to her rescue, and the three proceed to try and meet up with her parents and escape LA. Without a doubt the city probably won't make it, but will the characters make it out alive?
Disaster movies are usually all about spectacle, and this one isn't all that different. Although it feels a lot more like a normal action flick where the hero fights the planet instead of the typical troupe of super unlucky unprepared and clueless individuals trying to outpace or survive the disaster, it does still have large displays of chaos and carnage to landscapes and structures. To some extent, there's a decent amount of dead people in this as well - it's just nothing graphic, and hard to associate yourself with something that's the size of an ant on screen. I will give it to it though - for the most part the effects are well handled, and there are a few moments when you feel a bit of tension run through you when you think a situation is about to resolve only for them to be like "AND THEN!"
Characters here suffer most likely far better than the actual science behind things. This being a movie however, I could care less about the science actual as long as it entertains, to which I'd be a fibber if I didn't say that most the time I was quite amused. The cast all does a great job of playing their roles - even when some of the lines feel a bit forced or off-key. Some might even gloss up a bit at a few moments - no doubt in part to that ever present charisma of Dwayne Johnson. The scientists feel more as though they are tacked on to a story about the hero and his family than that they actually belong or are needed themselves, but they still provide some pretty good acting jobs themselves as well. If I had to argue any one person as the weakest link in the movie, I'd probably have to point to the reporter even though that could thoroughly be that the character feels like a less important tack on to the science subplot or to bring about exposition.
The plot flows alright, if not at times strange. We hear all this talk about earthquakes in the beginning during a lecture introducing the head science guy of the movie, and how the largest ones went on for a substantial amount of time - and yet during the actual quakes most seem like they come in and hit super hard for a couple seconds, and then casually wait till ready for the next set piece to be brought down. This can lead a bit to the pacing being well balanced, but with the actual events feeling a bit spaced out or erratic.
Overall it was a rather enjoyable film. I don't see myself re-watching it too often, as it wasn't particularly stand-out in most ways amidst the myriad of other movies, and Dwayne himself has certainly been in other movies I enjoy more than this one as well. That being said, it certainly wasn't a bad movie, and fans of the large-scale destruction flicks will properly enjoy it I believe. A rental probably wouldn't disappoint, but might be a good call before a purchase.