San Andreas (2015)
San Andreas makes the same mistake that most modern disaster movies tend to; namely the human story is simply drowned out by the size of the unfolding disaster. There seems to be some sort of curious inverse scale in this particular genre, in which the greater the magnitude of destruction, the less the audience gives a crap about those experiencing it on-screen. San Andreas is essentially a CGI FX showreel with some bland and indifferent narrative bolted on to it. It taps into societies morbid fascination with our own mortality and the fragile nature of our modern life style. It is odd how we seem to relish visions of our own destruction. I’m sure psychologists have a lot to say on this matter. However, beyond providing a spectacle San Andreas has precious little else to offer. Once again, the only redeeming aspect of the film is the presence of Dwayne Johnson.
I like Dwayne Johnson; he's an amiable on-screen presence who sticks to what he does best. Yet San Andreas manages to tax an already forgiving audiences sense of disbelief by casting him as a search and rescue pilot. It’s not the first role you associate with him is it? The “stupidity meter” reading quickly increases once a series of earthquakes the West Coast destroying the Hoover Dam and spreading to Los Angeles. People start behaving illogically and according to the movie cliché hand book. The faux science espoused at this point is ludicrous. The rating then goes off the chart when Chief Raymond 'Ray' Gaines (Johnson) just happens to chance upon his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino), despite Los Angeles having a population of four million and rescues her in the ensuing mayhem.
If you like to play arbitrary plot device bingo, you're score card will be full by the time San Andreas finishes. These include such clichés as the serious actor playing an academic (Paul Giamatti), whose sole purpose is to facilitate narrative exposition and explain what’s happening next to the intellectually challenged. Then there's the news reporter who's always in the right place at the right time to “get the story”. Oh, and we even get the evil new boyfriend who works in real estate (to be honest it’s a good indicator). As the credits finally roll, you’ll more than likely be partially deaf and have a headache brought about by the hyperactive cinematography. However, despite being immensely stupid there are a few crumbs of entertainment to be had due to Mr Johnson. He is disarmingly watchable. If you need to keep the kids quiet and kill two hours, then San Andreas will fit the bill. Expect nothing more.