[Movie Review] ‘San Andreas’ Is Earth Shaking Fun
You’ve got to admire a movie that knows exactly what it wants to be and delivers on that promise, which is why I enjoyed the latest big screen excursion into nature’s fury so much.
The former professional wrestler known as “The Rock”, Dwayne Johnson has become a bona fide movie star, firmly carrying the disaster adventure San Andreas on is shoulders as a father and husband trying to keep his family together while the world falls apart around them.
While you may expect Johnson to be saving the world from destruction, this film succeeds in focusing on a small story of this family in peril amid all the chaos the erupts around them after the infamous San Andreas fault shifts, causing the biggest earthquake of all time. Thousands of innocent are killed unceremoniously as Mother Nature takes her toll, but we stay with Johnson’s rescue helicopter pilot Ray, who was trying to apologize to his estranged wife, played by Carla Gugino, when all hell breaks lose.
If finding his wife atop a California skyscraper before it crumbles to the ground wasn’t daunting enough, the couple have to then go into the heart of the destruction to find their daughter, who is trapped in a quickly deteriorating San Diego. The story is told in almost real time, providing an effective since of urgency as the situation gets progressively more dire with each ensuing quake resulting from the initial fault movement growing in intensity.
Johnson shows great charisma is the leading man, an easy heir to the action movie hunk crown previously wore in the ’80s by Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Ray is a likable guy working hard to reunite his family, all of which are already emotionally scarred by the death of another daughter years before the events of this film.
Carla Gugino (Watchmen, Sucker Punch) is more than capable but vastly underused as Ray’s wife Emma, unfortunately relagated to mainly says things like “Let’s go get our daughter” or more commonly “Oh my God” in expressions of mortal fear at the coming string of catastrophes.
Rising star Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson, Texas Chainsaw) continues her ascension to Hollywood leading lady status as the daughter in danger, forced to toughen up and live by her dad’s motto of never giving up. Daddario’s character of Blake is a smart, bright eyed light of hope in broken aftermath of the quakes.
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sideways) rides out the storm from distance, reciting terrifying predictions of the coming destruction with his unmistakable unsettling calm voice, while Ian Gruffod (Fantastic Four) and pop singer Kylie Minogue pop up in forgettable predictably minor roles, but the biggest star of San Andreas is the awesome special effects, relentless and breathtaking throughout the almost two-hour running time.
Ultimately, the story of Ray trying to keep his family together and well as the Earth shakes and threatens to disappear below them can easily be seen as a huge metaphor for this family’s struggles to survive after the unimaginable tragedy of loosing their fourth family member, bringing a rare intimacy into such a massive spectacle.-laced production.
For an eye-popping summer blockbuster that will keep you satisfied through the bottom of a large bucket of popcorn, San Andreas is a wild ride that tugs on your heartstrings even as it wows you with heart-stopping special effects on an epic scale.
Official Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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San Andreas (rated PG13) is now playing at R/C KDH Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills.