San Andreas SPOILER-FREE Review
If you're looking to leave your brain at the door and just enjoy seeing things blow up, then San Andreas is the movie for you. If you're looking for something more meaningful and profound, then you're going to try to gorge your eyes out watching this film. It's basically a bunch of things blowing up and the world going to hell. But it's fun to watch. The film stars Dwayne Johnson as a rescue helicopter pilot who is going through a divorce with his wife, played by Carla Gugino. A few years prior, one of their daughters had drowned in a rafting trip, forever changing the dynamic of the family. Caught in the middle of this divorce is their other daughter, played by Alexandra Daddario, who just wants to have her family back together. And, as with any story involving our hero in a divorce, the ex-wife is seeing a rich pretentious d*ck, played by Ioan Gruffudd. In the middle of the estrangement of the family, an earthquake strikes at the San Andreas fault in Los Angeles, causing Johnson and Gugino to work together to save their daughter. Because family bonding is always at it's best when the world is going to sh*t.
At the same time that it is fun and exciting, it is one of the most cliche-ridden movies I have ever seen. The dialogue is excruciating and utterly laughable. I was laughing at this movie more times than I should have, simply because it was so predictable. I understand that not all films are meant to be examined closely, but by the end of the movie, I was getting really tired of just how cliched and predictable it was getting. How many times can one person so nearly avoid death when everyone else is just obliterated in the blink of an eye? Apparently, as many times as you want if your name in the Rock. Or if you're related to the Rock. Or if you remotely know him in some fashion.
But don't get me wrong: I really enjoyed watching this movie. The best parts of the film were when they didn't focus on any characters and just showed wide shots of the city being destroyed by the earthquake. The special effects were fantastic for the most part, except for a few select scenes. It was incredible seeing these large, prominent buildings devastated, like straight out of a Roland Emmerich film. And for the most part, the movie did a really good job of building up suspense within these scenes, especially at the end. There were some parts where I was watching and I just knew "Yeah, nothing bad is going to happen", but for the most part I was really invested in what was going on.
For the most part, the acting ranged from decent to poor. The Rock was good acting-wise, but it was really his charisma and personality that carried this film. I thought Daddario was decent as an actress, but the two English people she was with I didn't find that good. The kid (Art Parkinson) was alright, but the older brother (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) was hard to watch at some points. I also didn't think Gugino was that good in this movie. They didn't find a lot for her to do, other than yell and scream at the destruction. But for what Gugino lacked in feminine power, Daddario made up for as she used her survival expertise to help her and her new friends survive the destruction.
San Andreas made some attempts to be a deeper movie, especially when they introduced the divorce and the fact that their daughter had died years prior. For me personally, the movie didn't sell me on these emotional beats, but I appreciated what they tried to do. It showed that they didn't just want to be a SyFy channel B-movie, but rather have a little more depth. And while it may not have necessarily worked in my opinion, I'm glad they went for it. Although, I wish they had done a little less talking and spent more time showing the destruction of the city, because that was ultimately my favorite part of the film.
I should also mention that Paul Giamatti plays an earthquake specialist in this movie, and I thought he was okay acting-wise. Overall Giamatti is a great actor (The Amazing Spider-Man 2 aside) but he didn't stand out in this film as being a highlight, but rather just a guy the movie constantly cuts back to. Maybe a bit too constantly. One thing that annoyed me about the film was there was just too many cases of extreme coincidence, specifically with Giamatti's character. He just happened to discover a way to predict earthquakes, literally minutes before the San Andreas fault shakes so that he can help people. I just didn't buy into that.
Overall, this is just a fun and exciting movie to watch. The predictability, cliches and overuse of coincidence can get annoying after a while, but you have to understand that you're not watching The Godfather. The acting is sub-par in this movie and the attempts to be deeper ultimately fall flat, but they are appreciated. The best parts of the film are when you are subject to watching the complete and utter destruction of the city in large, sweeping camera shots. The visual effects are spot-on with a few exceptions. But in the end, if you just want to go to the movies to see something fun with your friends, San Andreas is a pretty good choice.
What do you think? Did you see San Andreas? Did you like it? Leave your (spoiler-free) review in the comments section below.
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