Sorry for the belated review and the inappropriate reaction that I am about to unleash on you but seriously, this disaster movie really tickled my funny bone instead of scaring me half to death about all the destruction happening all around.
Ray Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a rescue pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department who’s on the brink of divorce from his wife Em (Carla Gugino), after their relationship broke down over the death of their daughter Molly. While Ray enjoys a good relationship with his remaining daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario), this doesn’t erase the fact that their family is falling apart and he is helpless to do anything about it, especially since his wife is set to move in with a billionaire (Ioan Gruffudd). However, when the San Andreas fault line decides to go off to cause a 9.1 magnitude earthquake in San Francisco, Ray, still haunted by his failure to save his daughter, must save what remains of his family from the disaster even if he has to go through hell to do it.
I get it. They cast The Rock in a high adrenaline action disaster movie and he’s really the embodiment of an action hero. The movie should have worked on all counts because it had the budget to go wild over the CGI as well as a strong cast to pull off the desperation of the situation. The problem was, it went overboard with everything. And I mean everything. SO much so that what seemed plausible at the beginning became too much to handle at the end of the movie.
Let’s get this straight. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And in the case of San Andreas, almost every aspect of the quake was done in CGI. I appreciate the efforts to maximize the use of technology for the movie and it really wasn’t too shabby but for the most part, but there was just too much special effects that it seemed like the actors felt disconnected the setting.
The script also oversold Ray as an action hero from the very beginning. While its good that the filmmakers tried to establish his competence and capability from the onset of the movie, it just seemed forced that while he had a competent team, he was still the one who had control over the plane and he was it still had to be him who saved the day when things started to go south. (Not a spoiler, you’ll see what I mean if or when you watch the movie). It also seemed unfortunate that he had to go through and survive air, land and sea modes of transport (and be able to get access to these vehicles) just when he needed it and he was great at handling each and every emergency. Of course, if The Rock suddenly gave me instructions in the middle of the street how to survive an earthquake, I would listen but sometimes, he just took the Good Samaritan thing too far that it was just annoying.
The bright spot in this movie was Paul Giamatti’s character Dr. Lawrence Hayes, the CalTech professor whose work successfully predicted the upcoming disaster just as it was about to happen. I felt the sincerity and earnestness of the character in wanting his invention to work not because of fame but because he genuinely wanted to help — same thing with his partner Kim Park (Will Yun Lee). I felt that if the film only tried to develop the characters, the event would have had more of an impact on the audience.
All in all, because there was so much piled on Ray and his family, all other characters were relegated to the background, and this did not bode well for balance in the movie. Because everything that was happening to Ray and his family, it seemed nearly impossible and as a result, viewers won’t feel the sense of urgency that the scene should have commanded. I for one, laughed for the most part whenever the Gaines would survive a mishap only to be faced with another. Moral lesson of the story: Temper everything with moderation because going overboard is never a good thing. And just because you have The Rock on the cast means you can get away with everything.