Saturday, May 30, 2015

San Andreas Review: Barely Makes a Quake

There are many kind of films that make up the action adventure genre; but when it comes to massive blockbusters, there is nothing more destructive than a disaster movie. Since the 1970’s, this movie type has risen featuring the likes of volcanoes or tornadoes as the center of attention. However, no matter the disaster, these blockbusters tend to follow the same pattern. The latest edition to this genre uses one the most common type of disasters: the Earthquake. The destination of this earthquake is California and the film is San Andreas. Directed by Brad Peyton, San Andreas warned moviegoers of the cataclysmic event and raised the question just where would viewers be when this earthquake hit. So did San Andreas shake things up or was this blockbuster a disaster a different variety?

San Andreas follows Fire Department helicopter pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Going through a divorce with his wife Emma (Carla Gugino), Ray hopes to have a relaxing weekend with his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario).  Unfortunately after things do not go according to plan, things get worse for Ray as California is struck by a massive earthquake. After the first shock, Ray springs into action and manages to save his ex-wife. However Ray’s work is not done as he and Emma have to save Blake from a collapsing San Francisco.



As I stated, disaster movies like to follow similar patterns; particularly in their stories. San Andreas not only keeps to the statuesque of this genre, but it follows the disaster movie playbook down to the letter. From the hero’s conflict to the struggle of survival, the plot to San Andreas does nothing new for this story type.  I suppose it only made sense for San Andreas to stick to the formula. However I could not help but feel aggravated with the film’s plot. It was not the fact that the story was simple, but rather that it was just underwhelming. Not only have the film’s plot points been done time and again, but the execution of these moments was beyond lackluster. Not mention the story had some plot holes such as Dr. Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) forewarning of the event being ignored as the plot states. The story to San Andreas was not the worst I have ever seen, but it certainly left nothing to the imagination. 
Like the plot to San Andreas, the characters to this film followed the disaster movie formula; but they too were underwhelming. This is not to say that the performances were bad. Though it was not his best performance, Dwayne Johnson still brought his sense of charisma to the role of Ray. Along with The Rock bringing some effort was Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario and Paul Giammati who provided solid performances. Yet while the performances were good, there was not much to make these characters interesting. It did not help matter that the supporting characters were definitely lacking; with the exception of Ben and Ollie Taylor (Hugo Johnson-Burt and Art Parkinson). No bigger example of this was Ioan Grufford as Emma’s boyfriend Daniel Riddick. Evidentially Daniel was supposed to be the movie’s jerk. I say evidently because his cruel side came out of nowhere and had no bearing to the overall plot. So while the actors did their best, it just was not enough to get around the matter of compelling characters.

Being a disaster movie, it was expected for San Andreas to have massive scenes of destruction; which it did. However, these big time scenes were not at the least awe inspiring. The filmmakers certainly attempt to makes these moments memorable; and some of the scenes were effective. However, the mass destruction had nothing to offer. Surprisingly a sequence of Ray and Emma jumping out of a plane was more compelling. What does that say? It did not help matters that the effects, while decent, were not the best that a disaster movie could offer.

Perhaps if you are a diehard disaster film fan then you may find some enjoyment from San Andreas. However this blockbuster does nothing for me. While the performances were good and the film had a few exciting moments, the film suffers from the stereotypes that make up this genre. Even with an event of this scale, San Andreas barely makes a tremor.