johnlink ranks SAN ANDREAS (2015)

So it has been nearly two months since I have watched a movie. Seriously. Back in early February I watched THE MARTIAN. And then life happened. Shows, illnesses, work sruff, family stuff. The Celtics, the NCAA tournament, more Jeopardy than I should admit to… the normal stuff. Back in 2009, when I started this thing, I committed to writing about every movie I watched. Has that kept me from some mindless entertainment this last seven weeks? Maybe. But the time off has also recharged my batteries for sure.


I watched SAN ANDREAS (2015) on 3.24.16. It was my first viewing of the film.

This sort of shameless action has been going on for decades. THEM!, TOWERING INFERNO, WHEN TIME RAN OUT, ARMAGEDDON, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, and so on. There is a formula for sure. We need likable heroes. We need some fan-favorites who will die nobly. We need at least one tasteless human who we can rail against, even if the true villain is nature.

SAN ANDREAS follows that formula, and its 2015 updates are noble, even if they aren’t drastic. Our hero is LAFD rescue specialist, Ray (The Rock). He has an estranged wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), and a grown daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario). They have family issues, though this is written in such a way as to make them all seem like perfect people with their biggest flaw being an inability to communicate. None of these characters is even remotely unlikable or layered.

The unlikable one is Emma’s new love interest, Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd). He is a successful architect with a beautiful house. He’s about to have Emma and Blake move in. Obviously, he is going to turn out to be a shallow self-serving pseudo-villain. He does this before the first act of the film is concluded.

Also, on a separate track, is the research team. Paul Giamatti plays the guy who runs this Earthquake specialist unit. He’s Paul Giamatti, so he brings plenty to the table. But because the story never finds a way to bring his story and The Rock’s story together, this feels like a bit of a let down. Some of the major disaster films will have a few tracks which never converge. But to have just two story lines which turn out to be entirely separate feels a little like cheating the audience.

This is a shamelessly PG-13 movie. The action is sanitary and death happens in either fake or comical manners. We have no real doubt that our heroes will all be victorious against nature, though the ride is fun enough. SAN ANDREAS gives us The Rock as leading action man, but does a smart thing in making the young Alexandra Daddario an equally viable vessel through which a young audience can live vicariously. Having her be the one leading the youth movement, as the boy she starts to like plays a definite sidekick, is a nice adjustment to the normal disaster movie trope.

The movie also plays to a young audience by giving us that modern fantasy of divorced parents who might get back together. Again, there are no flaws in our heroes. They all just ‘cared’ too much when one of their family members died, and they couldn’t overcome the emotional baggage of it. So mom went and moved in with a rich guy who is clearly a jerk, and Dad threw himself into his work. Beautiful daughter is realistic about it all, she has equal sympathy for both, but is excited when the third act of the movie provides an opportunity for reconciliation.

And that scene of reconciliation – happening in a car and later in an airplane that conveniently needs gas – is written as if the conversation was crafted by the teenage child of a divorced couple. Their problems just needed to be aired out for everything to be solved. There is no real crisis, just a lack of telling each other how they feel. And while this plays nicely, it isn’t particularly genuine.

But, then, what should we expect from a big booming action flick about half of California falling into the ocean? This movie delivers on the action and keeping the stories small is smart, though opportunities are certainly missed. This tries to have the vibe of WAR OF THE WORLDS, but is not nearly the film that the Tom Cruise reboot was (and I know that isn’t saying much). But this was meant as a two hour diversion of destruction and entertainment. And on that end, it delivers.




FINAL SCORE: 5.75 out of 10


~ by johnlink00 on April 2, 2016.

One Response to “johnlink ranks SAN ANDREAS (2015)”

  1. This movie’s pretty crazy and silly, but it’s also very hard not to enjoy. Nice review John.

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