When the most entertaining disaster movie of the last decade is Sharknado, you know something's wrong. But when the trailer for San Andreas came out, I hoped that maybe this statement would change. I hoped that maybe Sharknado would be pushed down to second spot. I mean, who doesn't love the Rock? That man is unstoppable, plus he's legally ordained and everything. Unfortunately though, San Andreas fails to live up to the pretty damn awesome, and incredibly spoiler-y, trailers. Looks like Sharknado remains at the top for a while longer.
The film follows the story of Ray (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). He's a rescue chopper pilot with more than 300 confirmed rescues, although beneath all that, Ray is nothing more than a family man. Not quite over the death of his eldest daughter, Ray decides to spend more time with his other daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), but their time together is cut short after a series of ground shaking earthquakes occur. They're the largest ever recorded earthquakes and the result is whatever a $100 million budget can make. His family split all over the city, Ray takes action, going in search of his wife (Carla Gugino) and daughter.
San Andreas isn't a film to be taken seriously, and it lets you know about this right from the opening scene. We see a teenage girl, who's character literally plays no importance to the overall film. She's driving a car on the side of a cliff. We see her bending down to pick something up or check her phone numerous times, and each time a car drives past her. It's hilarious, whether that was intentional or not, and it sets up a goofy mood. While this is the only scene in the film I would describe as "goofy," especially since the tone changes drastically thirty seconds later, the filmmakers behind San Andreas clearly knew what type of film they were making and they rolled with this the whole way through.
It's a ridiculous, cheesy and over the top movie that, thanks to the Rock, actually manages to be occasionally entertaining. Don't get me wrong, this film can be god-awful at times, bringing in all the worst dialogue imaginable, but when the destruction is on screen, the film can also be a lot of fun. It's cheese at its finest and this cheese is topped off with a bit of muscular charisma. The film is nuts, but it knows its nuts and it embraces that, bringing us a breath taking scene involving a tsunami. The action is fun, even if the special effects are of varying qualities.
Watching all the destruction unfold and seeing hundreds of CGI civilians get crushed by a variety of different objects is entertaining, sure, but everything in-between is absolutely not. Every line of dialogue in this film is completely cringe worthy, giving us such lines as "who are we going to call?" "Everybody!" It's awful, clichéd and a line I would expect in a Michael Bay movie. Nobody talks the way these people do and it always bewilders me how none of the actors ever seem the pick up on it.
As for the characters, they're just as bad. Literally every character in this movie is a character from another movie. We've got the scientist who knew this was going to happen, the big, badass dad, the daughter going off to college, the wife who's dating a douchebag but doesn't realise it, and a random love interest the daughter meets just before the destruction. Sound familiar? That's because it's from every disaster movie ever made. Nothing about this film screams original. Not even the disaster sequences do, and that's saying something.
To sum up, San Andreas can be a lot of fun when there's destruction to be had, but when they take the time to let us know about the characters, the film completely falls apart, providing us with the worst dialogue imaginable and characters we've seen a hundred times over.
2 1/2 Stars