San Andreas Review

San Andreas
  • Directing8.5
  • Writing7.5
  • Acting8
Overall8.0

San Andreas is an impressive summer blockbuster. It's big, fun, exciting and a nearly perfect disaster movie, with director Brad Peyton giving the great Roland Emmerich a run for his money. Dwayne Johnson brings his usual charisma and intense energy, while the 3D actually manages to heighten the thrills and excitement.

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Brad Peyton‘s San Andreas is a near-perfect disaster flick, providing its viewers with lots of large-scale action and excitement, plus a decent-enough story, led with energy and charisma by Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson. Plus, the film’s use of 3D only heightens the thrills and makes the film that much more bad ass when viewed on the largest and loudest screen in town.

The San Andreas fault is a ticking time-bomb waiting to happen, with a massive series of earthquakes just around the corner, waiting to strike. Or at least that’s how director Brad Peyton sets up the epic disasters that follow in his latest film San Andreas.

Dwayne Johnson plays rescue-chopper pilot Ray and the film follows Ray around California as he survives and saves people from earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters in an attempt to save his daughter and re-unite his family.

San Andreas may sound like a silly and far-fetched disaster movie that focuses mostly on the special effects and size of destruction and less behind the science or common sense of it all and that’s one hundred percent correct and exactly why Brad Peyton may have cracked the surface, thus creating a highly satisfying and richly detailed disaster movie that’s nearly perfect.

There’s a lot going on in San Andreas, yet everything has a reason and everything makes perfect sense in terms of playing by the own film’s rules. That’s the trick to disaster movies that so many filmmakers fumble with and yet Peyton achieves such great things with such a simple and compact story.

He doesn’t over-bloat the film with unneeded intricate plot detail or side character attention and instead smartly maps out a film that puts emphasis on large-scale disaster, while also rounding the rough corners with simple, but not too distracting family drama, which definitely plays up on the sap, but is tolerable and never overbearing.

The running time is a quick and painless 114 minutes, yet Peyton crams in so much action. And the action is well-shot, from both a large-scaled scope and a 3D approach that only builds and adds onto the already massive look and feel of the film.

Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario star in the film, with Johnson sharing most of the screen-time with Daddario and together the two present a fine balance to the film’s tones, with Johnson’s manly bad ass dad figure swooping across the screen with style and typical Rock energy, while Daddario’s daughter role is actually given some thought and not simply dumbed down to the helpless and stupid daughter.

Watching Daddario’s character actually outsmart most of the people around her is refreshing and almost groundbreaking for a disaster film, especially with Johnson getting the top bill and most of the promotional spotlight.

One could argue that San Andreas is her film and they’d be right in doing so, because her character’s progression is what keeps the heart beating, despite Johnson’s dramatic chops slightly improving when the film needs a moment of sadness.

Johnson is no dramatic actor, but he does the character justice and keeps the tears from feeling too forced, which plagued his last serious role in Snitch. He’s improving and it’s noticeable.

San Andreas is no Oscar winner for its performances though and that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, even though Paul Giamatti proves to be a perfect match for playing that side character that no one really knows or cares about, yet he carries the most important knowledge for the film’s characters and their fates.

Director Brad Peyton deserves some recognition and attention for somehow out-Emmeriching the master disaster filmmaker Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and so on).

Peyton manages to successfully trim almost all of the unneeded fat off of San Andreas to make it feel much more lean and effective, while also maximizing his budget with some truly groundbreaking special effects work that make the film feel very big and expensive.

Also, his use of 3D is astonishing, adding lots of depth and layers to the film, with various dirt and debris jumping off of the screen, while also infusing a lot of fun camerawork that gives a much better sense of depth.

Lots of folks have been talking about Tomorrowland or even the upcoming Jurassic World when it comes to most-anticipated summer blockbusters, but San Andreas might surprise many with just how enjoyable and entertaining it is.

It looked like a fairly generic and basic disaster flick, but it’s actually the complete opposite. Peyton’s direction is productive and lively, while Johnson and Daddario’s performances come with enough likable moments to actually add up to something.

See San Andreas on the largest and loudest screen possible and for once, do bother with the 3D upgrade, preferably IMAX 3D if possible.

San Andreas is the biggest and best disaster movie that I’ve seen in quite a long time and it just might be one of the better summer blockbusters to hit in 2015.

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