(Editor’s note: this article was written by 4LN’s Disaster Movie Expert, Paige Clark)
This weekend I had the pleasure of scratching my disaster movie itch by going to see San Andreas. Being the 4LN disaster movie expert (I would have minored in it in college had it been an option), it is only natural that I review it.
Before we get started it is important for you to know that I love disaster movies… like LOVE-love them. I can quote Twister word for word, and I spend my free nights watching whatever B-movie, disaster flick that happens to be named after whatever the disaster happens to be (such as Earthquake, Category 7, Ice Storm, and Firestorm). So I was excited when I found out that their was going to be an A-list disaster movie and had to be there opening weekend.
Now for the spoiler-free synopsis!
San Andreas stars Dwayne Johnson as a member of the LAFD. He is a part of the super special rescue squad (I don’t know if that is the technical name for it but that is what I call it). He and his team make the daring rescues that save people from unfortunate circumstances. Alexandra Daddario (she plays Annabeth in the Percy Jackson movies, or the hot girl that Woody Harrelson cheats on his wife with in True Detective) plays Johnson’s daughter. They are about to take a trip to Seattle so he can drop her off at school for her freshman year, but before they can take off on their road trip an unprecedented earthquake takes Nevada by surprise. Paul Giamatti plays a Caltech seismologist who is working on the cutting edge of seismologic technology (I am assuming he is a seismologist because he was a scientist who studies earthquakery) that will help predict earthquakes. He and his partner are at the Hoover Dam testing their theory when a 7.0+ earthquake destroys it. While it sucks that the Hoover Dam was destroyed, Giamatti’s theory was proven correct, meaning the world now has the ability to predict earthquakes. The timing couldn’t be better because California is about to get rocked.
Johnson’s trip with his daughter is cut short because of the earthquake and he is called away to help in Nevada. She travels with her mom’s new boyfriend to San Francisco, just in time for a HUMONGOUS earthquake (because of course she did). Johnson is conveniently in a helicopter and happens to be on the phone with his ex-wife at the time. She’s able to make to the roof of the building before it collapses and jump to the helicopter in the nick of time. They hear from their daughter and figure out where she is and they are off to San Francisco to rescue her. Throughout the film, stronger and stronger earthquakes continuously rock California, which creates a series of very unfortunate and “totally believable” (quotes added for sarcasm) circumstances that the characters had to survive.
Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, but it’s definitely cheesy. My mom and my sister laughed pretty much the whole time at the level of Velveeta grade liquid gold this movie contains. The dialogue is pretty predictable and the acting was not all that great, but I don’t think it would have been as good of a disaster movie if it was better in those areas. Where would the fun in that be? You don’t go to a disaster movie for believability and Oscar grade acting – you go because the genre itself is awesome (although a giant earthquake along the San Andreas fault is totally plausible).
This film was definitely terrific when it comes to imagery. So even though you probably wouldn’t actually survive any of the situations you see, you really feel like you are right there. The movie packs so many anxiety-inducing situations in it that it left me at the edge of my seat the entire time and made me wish I had taken a Xanax before I left the house.
Here’s the thing, San Andreas has everything that I love about movies in it. It has action, disaster, family drama, a budding and healing love story, and a multitude of cheesy one-liners, but unless you just really love disaster movies (like I do) or really enjoy looking at Dwayne Johnson for two straight hours (like I do) I’d say you should probably just wait to rent it (but you should definitely see it).
4LN writer Stephen Andrew also saw the movie this weekend and here’s what he thought:
Stephen – I loved San Andreas. One of the main things Paige and I have in common is our love of cheesy disaster movies. I’ll concede that she’s definitely the expert, but I consider myself a pretty big fan of the genre. (If there was a Disaster Movie Trivial Pursuit Paige would still totally kick my ass at it. Also, hey Trivial Pursuit people, you’re welcome for basically just HANDING YOU a billion dollar idea…)
One thing I really loved about the film is the fact that Dwayne Johnson’s character isn’t just some guy who happens to be street-smart. Dude is a legit rescue specialist. It’s what he does and he’s good at it. Normally in these movies it’s the dashingly handsome, uncharacteristically brave scientist, or some grizzled retired marine that saves everyone’s life (“everyone” is this scenario refers to the 5 people that usually make it out of these movies alive).
I pretty much agree with Paige on all her points. The movie had a ton of cheese-factor, but it was also so incredibly intense at times. There were so many moments that made nervous and tense. The scene Paige previously mentioned where Carla Gugino’s character (The Rock’s ex) was in a tall building that was falling down made me CRAZY. I was nervous the entire time. That’s the testament to a disaster movie’s quality. If they can be cheesy and STILL make you feel like you’re gonna jump out of your skin, then they’re top-notch. If you like disaster movies, or you just want to see a movie and you’ve already seen Avengers: Age of Ultron (twice), then you should definitely see San Andreas.