Editor’s Notes: San Andreas is out on 3-disc 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack October 13th.
San Andreas (Warner Home Video) combines amazingly realistic special effects with a larger-than-life hero and a plot that harks back to the disaster movie craze of the 1970s. There’s action a-plenty — harrowing escapes, buildings collapsing into one other, fire, flood, explosions. Amid the chaos, a small group of individuals try to survive as thousands around them are flattened.
Ray (Dwayne Johnson) is a rescue pilot who isn’t afraid to risk his own life to save others. This is established early on when he springs into action to save a young woman whose car goes careening down a mountainside and gets caught precariously against some rocks. Ray doesn’t think twice about maneuvering his helicopter into a narrow gorge and lowering himself to the ground while a fellow rescue team member handles the controls. Of course, he pries the woman out moments before the car plummets hundreds of feet.
Meanwhile, Cal Tech Professor Lawrence (Paul Giammati) has predicted that an earthquake of Biblical proportions will occur in California. One is long overdue. Sure enough, the San Andreas fault obligingly rends the state asunder from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Ray has to save wife Emma (Carla Gugino) and daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Naturally, he powers through one obstacle after another.
Johnson’s natural charisma charms us into accepting the movie’s unlikely scenarios. Ms. Gugino and Ms. Daddario are on hand to be placed in need of rescue. Of course, Ray is the only person in all of California who’s up to the task. Ioan Gruffudd has the thankless role of a Donald Trump-type millionaire builder whose cowardice under pressure contrasts unflatteringly with Ray’s derring-do.
The characters are standard-issue disaster movie types and much of the plot is predictable. Going on the 3D journey is fun up to a point. The marriage of effects and story is unbalanced. Because the effects are so good, the sub-standard writing is all the more painful. Audiences deserve a sharper script with characters who are more people than plot devices.
Director Brad Peyton makes the mistake of overdoing some of the effects. Though impressive and flawlessly executed, too many are repeated too often, dimming their dramatic impact in an effort to add more and more mass destruction. No one who sees this movie will feel it’s stingy with pandemonium. You can be sure that most iconic structures along the fault line will meet their doom.
Rated PG-13, San Andreas contains relentless action with just enough plot to serve as backdrop for breathtaking images of a state being ravaged. The movie offers some exceptional aerial images of California under attack by Mother Nature.
Bonus extras on the 3-disc 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack include commentary by director Brad Peyton, deleted scenes, gag reel, stunt reel, and three behind-the-scenes featurettes.