Film Review: San Andreas


San Andreas is a by-the-numbers disaster movie that entertains as it exasperates. The film should appeal to those more motivated by action than story.

Experts in California are trying to predict earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault. When a catastrophic wave of earthquakes hit, a helicopter rescue pilot is determined to save his estranged wife and daughter…

Director Brad Peyton has produced a formulaic disaster movie with San Andreas. The film features all the familiar genre tropes. San Andreas is highly reminiscent of the films of Roland Emmerich; those familiar with his films will face few surprises here. Meanwhile, a shot of the US flag later in the film would make Michael Bay proud.

The premise of the film suffices as route to the action that follows, even if it lacks originality. The main problem with San Andreas is that the screenplay is woeful. Even the main characters are not really fleshed out, despite a running time of almost two hours. Dialogue in the film ranges from hokey to unintentionally humorous. It is a major detraction from the overall enjoyment of the film. At times, it almost feels as if San Andreas is being intentionally mawkish to generate laughs, but it is clear that the film is not knowing enough to do this.

The traditional disaster movie character types are present in San Andreas, with the all-American hero, scientific expert, children who need saving, and estranged spouse all making an appearance. Although the focus is on only a handful of characters, the screenplay does not do enough to make the audience care about them. Dwayne Johnson is not stretched as pilot Ray, while Paul Giamatti and Hugo Johnstone-Burt are among those given truly awful lines.

Where the film excels is in action and special effects. San Andreas features some excellent set pieces which generate a good level of tension and excitement. The 3D does not appear too gimmicky, and there are some fantastic shots of San Francisco.

For those who value action and effects above all else, San Andreas is just the ticket. Those looking for originality in the story or quality in the screenplay are likely to be disappointed.