Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Dwayne Johnson – Chief Raymond “Ray” Gaines
Alexandra Daddario – Blake Gaines
Carla Gugino – Emma Gaines
Ioan Gruffudd – Daniel Riddick
Paul Giamatti – Dr. Lawrence Hayes
Archie Panjabi – Serena Johnson
The graphics and special effects in San Andreas really aren’t that bad at all. For a good percentage of this movie buildings and land are splitting, smashing, exploding and falling down. And to be honest, this is what I was hoping for. Surprisingly, I don’t think I ever saw a trailer for this – just the poster – and from the artwork I assumed it would be one of those ‘wrestler-turned-actor swaggering across parking lot carrying dead relative in a moment of sheer heroism’ type hero scenarios. But Dwayne, the story, and the special effects were actually quite plausible. Engaging. From start to finish I enjoyed San Andreas.
Have you ever sat staring at a cinema (or television) screen with wide eyes, uttering phrases such as “oh…my…god..” or “holy shit”? – this was my reaction throughout this movie. (strange how people’s expressions of surprise involve words of religion – holy, god, etc.) – anyway, moving on..
It it’s disaster action you’re after, this is your movie. I can honestly say that the effort put into San Andreas was fantastic; I could sense director Brad Peyton’s enthusiasm as I sat watching. He and his crew put a lot of effort into bringing something – which could quite possibly happen – to life with some spectacular visuals. The ‘watery’ scenes especially won me over. The part where Ray and Emma jump into a boat and ride a massive tidal wave as a tsunami rolls towards the Golden Gate Bridge had me watching constantly – eyes fixed on the screen. The scene was a mini-epic, which literally had me gasping out loud due to the action unfolding on screen. Because at the same time as these two lead characters are ‘gate surfing’, there are things happening to other characters all around them. It is one of the best scenes of San Andreas, panic on the seas, brilliant.
The movie continues with certain characters trapped in collapsing skyscrapers, or engulfed in gushing water, and a scene of dread – being crushed by a cargo ship that has been thrown into the city by the gargantuan wave that hits..
And all this is without cruise liners being tossed around like toy boats, airplanes, etc. The situation caused by nature is absolute carnage – I was loving every second, again, gasping or letting out moans of, “fuuuuuuckin’ hell”.
(I have a filthy mouth sometimes. Even in the cinema).
Why do many disaster movies begin with an opening scene whereby a college / university professor is conducting a seminar to a bunch of glazed-eyed jumper-wearing students?
This is something I’ve picked up on in flicks such as The Day After Tomorrow; bunch of students sat with laptops open, taking part in a seminar before being caught up in a disastrous event which luckily enough ticks every box on their university module. At least they’ve got the education behind them if not the strength, lucky bastards.
San Andreas is no different to this point I’ve picked up on. The movie begins with seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes (Giamatti) – in a hall – lecturing to students. The focus then shifts to his office where his expertees are put to good use with a confident (yet panicky) news reporter. These scenes involving actor Giamatti are actually quite good; radiating the perfect amount of tension needed to get the story going. The actor is great – he always manages to carry a scene just by bowing his head and looking up at people through his eyelashes. Minimal body gestures needed, he delivers what he needs to, effectively.
I raised my eyebrows slightly at first sight of the news reporter, played by Archie Panjabi. First time I saw her was in East is East (1999) as Meenah Khan; really enjoyed her performance too – very funny. Then I didn’t see anything of her until she popped up in something around 2010. Then San Andreas – a very random appearance but Christ (there’s the religion again) she’s grown. From muslim teenager slick businesswoman, she looks good.
See if you can spot the highly relaxed police officer directing people down the street just before the tsunami scene.
As Ray’s daughter Blake and two British (hoorah!) strangers she met are hurrying to safety in an arched building – STOP – and look behind them. A San Francisco police officer is stood with his arms outstretched, calmly directing hundreds of sprinting citizens in one direction, whilst complete carnage approaches them all. His face says, ‘take the freeway’ rather than ‘take out your last will and testament – you’re about to die’.
This. Just. Would. Not. Happen.
End of rant.
San Andreas opening sequence sees a young female drive into a spot of trouble when atop a cliff. Without giving too much away, she ends up dangerously hanging from it in her car. When big boy Ray is lowered by helicopter to rescue her, he yells down and asks if she is okay – to which the terrified girl shouts up in reply, “I’m not feeling very well!”
…OF COURSE YOU’RE NOT FEELING VERY FUCKING WELL! You’re hanging from a CLIFF!? was my instant reaction. I would have understood if she said it in jest, but the scene was deadly serious and she even delivered the line in a serious tone.
And from one ‘poorly’ female to another.. Minogue.
Yes, Kylie Minogue makes an incredibly brief cameo appearance as the sister of Emma’s boyfriend Daniel. It was slightly refreshing to see her on screen in a movie like this, especially with her bizarre American accent. How she exits the movie though nearly made me howl with laughter, it’s very fast. Ensure you keep watching when she first appears or you may miss it.
Overall, San Andreas wasn’t a bad watch. I expected it to be a lot worse than it was, predictable. But it turned out to be a feature which lowered the story and heightened the natural disaster visuals. In fact, after leaving the cinema I decided this was a movie made purely to wow the audience with its graphics – which it did. The producers put a lot of effort into it, filling the screen with a sheer sense of dread with each wave of water or collapsing building. I honestly loved the special effects in San Andreas. The movie surpassed any other disaster movie I’ve seen before. Armageddon can move to the back of the queue. Independence Day is invisible. And The Day After Tomorrow was so yesterday.
San Andreas has made it into my list of Top 10 disaster flicks.
Though the plot remains extremely cliché (seperated parents rushing to save their only child and obviously bound to get back together whilst doing so), the focus is drawn away from this as the consequences of a natural disaster take over at full force to engulf the audience with some brilliantly convincing visuals.
What can I say – I really didn’t expect to be won over, but I was.
Love it when that happens.