Saturday, May 30, 2015

San Andreas

Year: 2015
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson

Plot: A huge earthquake hits California, and a rescue chopper pilot has to make a dangerous journey to save his daughter who's trapped in San Francisco.

Review: Disaster films are mostly alike. They all follow the same formula. Big calamity hits. Lots of people die. A few heroes survive. San Andreas follows this too. The only thing that seems to separate these films now is the amount of CGI used.

San Andreas is set in California, where a massive earthquake unlike anything the world has ever seen hits. In the middle of this disaster is Ray Gaines, a rescue chopper pilot who has to save his estranged wife and daughter who are trapped in the city with thousands of other victims. The film shifts attention between the family and Caltech seismologist Lawrence Hayes, who tries to warn everyone of the oncoming destruction.

The most impressive thing about San Andreas is the special effects. The earthquake scenes, from the shaking to falling buildings, shifting grounds and the tsunami in the film's climax look pretty awesome. There are a few moments where you'd go 'wow' due to how realistic it looks. 

The other great thing is the acting, which is mostly convincing. Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino make a good couple, and Alexandra Daddario fares well as their daughter Blake, who's rather resourceful in times of danger. Paul Giamatti is ever reliable as the seismologist while Hugo-Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson add some variety to Blake's adventure as a pair of brothers who stick with her during the disaster.

But San Andreas is practically filled with cliches. Broken family as the lead characters? Check. Mum has a new boyfriend? Check. Selfish characters meet their demise? Check. Dad has to go rescue his kid? Check. Will the broken family be mended by the time it's over? You know the answer to that one too. If you've seen 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, all this will be most familiar to you. To top it all off, they have Gugino's boyfriend (played by Ioan Gruffudd) turn out to be a not so good guy, which makes it all the more obvious that she'll reunite with her husband. The only curveball they gave here was the idea of a death in the family in their past, which at least gives some weight to the drama between them.

If there's any reason to see this film, it would be the superb CGI. The heart of the story serves its purpose, but doesn't really add anything new to what has come before. (7/10)

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