San Andreas stars Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) as Rainier Wolfcastle, aka Ray.
He’s a maverick helicopter rescue pilot, rescuing helicopters in danger all around the area where they have that San Andreas fault thing. Occasionally, he also helps damsels in distress, starting with a girl whose car careers down a mountainside through no fault of her own. It’s a scene which tells us how tough and resourceful and maverick Ray is, even though I really wanted that girl to die a la the opening of Cliffhanger, on the sole basis that she kept using her mobile instead of paying attention to the road, before heading down the rocky mountain way.
His daredevil antics of thrusting his chopper into a canyon made even the second screen of the ZX Spectrum videogame version of Airwolf look easy, so clearly he was practicising using that, but after a hard day’s heroics he goes home to his empty house and stares at the divorce papers from uber-hot soon-to-be-ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino), stopping only to chat on the phone to his buxom daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who is living with mom at the house of her wimpy new boyfriend and property magnate, Daniel Riddick (Hornblower‘s Ioan Gruffudd – putting on a dodgy American accent and his character proving he’s not as well-built as his movie namesake).
Elsewhere, earthquake prediction experts, led by Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) and Park (Will Yun Lee), are predicting a riot. Yes, they predict a riot, indeed. One around 9.5 in magnitude, in fact, and one that will trounce an early amount of destruction that’s applied to the Hoover Dam, so-called because in order to make it spick and span for its inaugral use in 1936, they went round cleaning it with a team of fifty people pushing Hoovers around. It’s also the same location where I once shot a load of people in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Lawnrece and Park have a team of boffins eager to help including one who has a load of backwards lettering tattooed onto his muscly arms. Perhaps he spends a lot of time staring into mirrors?
Where San Andreas succeeds is in all the matters that matter most – gigantic in-your-face destruction, and to do it consistently. I was very pleased to see that they hadn’t chickened out in these times of austerity and cheated us – as a lot of films do – by giving us a big event at the start, and then dawdling about until the final 90 minutes before blowing something else up. In this film, there are many destruction scenea and they’re spaced out with non-destruction scenes to get us to the next destruction scene.
The action also includes one of the most-used tricks in the effects book, but one that is always worth a laugh – as people walk across buildings, the floors are like the levels in Dragon’s Lair, crumbling as you run past them.
Oh, and there’s also a graituitous muscles shot, where, while flying the chopped, we get a close-up on Dwayne’s arms for no apparent reason. For armpit fetishists, we also get to see Carla Gugino’s shaved areas.
Comparisons will naturally be made to Roland Emmerich’s 2012, since this film destroys San Francisco, whereas that film destroyed the world, but in the credits for this one, I did see another Emmerich listed within. They’re not yet showing on IMDB for some reason, so I will have to seek out that name…
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on this film.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.