"San Andreas" Review: Shout out to the 90's

Writer Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) must be fond of 90’s action movies, because his newly penned “San Andreas” plays like an action blockbuster from that decade but set in 2015. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on the viewer’s taste. Filled with suspense, action and drama, “San Andreas” falls through the cracks of being a great disaster film and lands in an awesomely bad popcorn movie!

Ray (Dwayne Johnson) is an LA police and fire rescue helicopter pilot. He’s just been served divorce papers from his wife Emma (Carla Cugino), and learned that she and their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) are moving in with Emma’s new boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd). Before he can deal with his feelings, he has to deal with the earthquake that just hit Nevada.

Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) is a seismology professor at Cal Tech who just happened to come up with a method that predicts Earthquakes. He warns the nation that there will be another massive quake to hit the San Andreas fault. With a helicopter in his possession and his estranged wife and daughter in danger, Ray goes after them.

The film plays out almost beat for beat as 90’s movies like “Cliffhanger” or “Independence Day”. There is a heart pounding, unbelievable (and I mean unbelievable) rescue in the beginning of the film. Then we get a splash of character development and background on our main characters, while simultaneously getting exposition from the “crazy earthquake soothsayer”. If you can get past the on-the-nose dialogue, corny one-liners, and one in a million death defying stunts, then you will be thoroughly entertained! 

The truth of the matter is this is one of the most unapologetic, self-centered disaster films I’ve seen in a while. In “San Andreas” we have a rescue pilot that uses his position and skills to try and solely save his family. It’s so wrong, but at the same time perhaps so right. If one of the biggest earthquakes on record hit, the first thing I would do is try to save my family. Thus the film becomes a romantic comedy at times as Ray and Emma unite to try and save Blake. Lines like “Let’s go get our daughter.” become a punch line rather than a war cry. 

“San Andreas” is a popcorn blockbuster that will likely get swept out of the box office after a good three to four week run. It’s a film that you’ll sit down to watch when it comes on TBS for the thirtieth time. If you’re looking for entertainment and humor in a movie that doesn’t quite realize it’s funny (or maybe it does), “San Andreas” is for you!

Rating: C-

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.