Saturday, August 29, 2015

‘San Andreas’ Is Solid in the Spectacle, Shaky in the Storyline

The premise of San Andreas is pretty simple: the shifting of the San Andreas Fault causes a massive, vicious earthquake across western USA, and Chief Ray Gaines (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson), a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department, has to fly amidst all the chaos and destruction to rescue his teenage daughter (unbelievably played by 29-year-old Alexandra Daddario) and estranged wife (Carla Gugino).

San Andreas has a good amount of action and excitement as a solid disaster movie.  But that’s all it is.  It doesn’t have much depth, originality, and surprise.  There’s some attempt to add a bit more drama unrelated to the disaster aspect, but the execution isn’t good enough to actually add something interesting.  The story is dumb and cheesy.

It’s also burdened with a couple of uninteresting or needless characters.  Good thing that Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is headlining this, as he injects his magnetic personality into this movie.  So there’s at least one character – the Rock’s character, Ray Gaines – that I was able to easily root for (though I kind of hate that he has to abandon his duty as a LAFD rescuer so that he can go after his family); having him is somewhat enough to be kept invested on the narrative until the end.

San Andreas is not a great movie.  But nobody was expecting it to be one anyway.  It just needs to entertain as a standard popcorn flick.  And the spectacular visuals and the Rock – a charismatic, badass action hero – ensure that it does.

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