Saturday, 6 June 2015

Film Review #78

San Andreas (2015)
Director: Brad Peyton Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Ioan Gruffudd, Paul Giamatti, Archie Panjabi, Will Yun Lee, Kylie Minogue

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 114 Minutes

Tagline: "We always knew this day would come."

It's been a while since the last full-on, big-budget disaster film was making us scared of our mighty planet, or it at least seems like a while, so I have been looking forward to this effort very much. The fact that it's named after one of the most well-known continental faults in the world (and NOT the Grand Theft Auto game as some apparently believe, amusingly) should give you a fairly good idea of what type of disaster you can expect too. Much like The Day After Tomorrow (with which San Andreas has more than a little in common), events here are based not only on what could really happen but on what supposedly will really happen eventually, but not only does it accelerate the global timetable somewhat, it also exaggerates the resultant mayhem as well, meaning we are treated to lots of flolloping landscapes and toppling high-rises.

Ray demonstrates his heroism once again...
It doesn't take long for things to get moving either (literally), but first we get the obligatory 'hero' sequence, setting up The Rock as the brave and selfless helicopter rescue pilot, Ray Gaines. Next, we meet CalTech seismologists, Dr. Lawrence Hayes (Giamatti) and Dr. Kim Park (Lee) who believe they have developed a model that can predict earthquakes, and their theories are put into practise at the Hoover Dam where they meet with success, but at a cost when their predicted quake strikes while they're there, and subsequent readings indicate the entire San Andreas fault is set to go for a wander. Unfortunately, lying directly along this fault are Los Angeles, where Ray's estranged wife (Gugino) is, and San Francisco, where his daughter (Daddario) has just arrived with her mother's boyfriend (Gruffudd).

I guess we won't be stopping for 'gas' here then...
Basically then, much of the film is made up of Emma (Ray's wife) and Blake (his daughter) avoiding giant holes in the ground and everything wibbling and collapsing all around them, and Ray's attempts to locate and rescue them. There is a 'bad guy' of sorts in Emma's new squeeze, Daniel, who exhibits his somewhat selfish streak when it comes to his own survival (which includes abandoning Blake), and the bouncy Blake soon joins up with a rather more helpful young English fellow called Ben (Johnstone-Burt) and his younger brother Ollie (Parkinson) who struggle though San Francisco's destruction together. Even Kylie makes a surprise appearance (I'd be interested to know how that came about), but unsurprisingly the real star here is the special effects and their tremendously realistic depictions of what basically amounts to Armageddon for the residents of western/southern California.

Blake, Ollie, and Ben are aghast at... something...
Whether it's scientifically accurate (or even plausible) I couldn't say. Unlike many similar films, that's not even been mentioned really, but it sure is watchable. The non-stop action is exciting, upsetting, awe-inspiring, even funny on occasion, and rarely less than captivating, but the scenes in between the mayhem, despite featuring decent performances from all involved, are rather less interesting and full of clichés. I can't imagine too many will be paying the price of admission for the story though - that's always the Achilles heel of films like this and, like those before it, it will be embraced by some and dismissed by others accordingly. Whichever camp you're in, it's definitely a dazzling, over-the-top spectacle and therefore well worth catching in the cinema, but just make sure to switch your brain off first.

RKS Score: 7/10


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