DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton
May contain spoilers!
Contains mild language
Will we be adding this to our collection? YES
Kyle Minogue: Yes, that’s right, Kylie Minogue makes an appearance in this blockbuster disaster movie, one if you believe the star, and to paraphrase, “has been inspired strongly by the 1970’s classic, Earthquake“, and manages to meet her end in a scene which was lifted straight out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), which itself was paying homage to Looney Tunes. So in short, Kylie Minogue had a Looney Tunes death. Made me laugh too!
That might sound a bit harsh if it wasn’t true and this sort of comical moment was not an isolated incident, trust me. Within the opening five minutes alone, you have no choice but either suspend your disbelief or demand a refund from the theatre manager! That is not necessarily a bad thing. You certainly know what you’re in for when a car can be hurled over a Californian cliff and left hanging hundreds of feet down by tree for the pretty young driver, female of course, to be left with no real injuries. Enter The Rock, or Dwayne Johnson but in all fairness, The Rock would probably be a more appropriate credit for this performance.
“It’s all about family and getting to know the characters” he says, but seriously, as long you expect nothing more than one-dimensional characters then you’ll be fine, otherwise scarp the “characters” and get on with action, which San Andreas does and does so well, by both modern CGI and classic disaster movie standards. The set up is simple, the plot is explained to within and inch of its life and though there are few small surprises, such as the container ship riding a top of a tsunami and taking out the Golden Gate Bridge.
And I was sure which way the step-father (Ioan Gruffudd), always hard done to in these films, as one of the city’s leading architects, would go. But would he go nobly down with his city or go all Richard Chamberlin from The Towering Inferno (1974)… Well, the latter and in some scenes, quite literally throwing people out-of-the-way to take their shelter. What I’m not sure about here is whether or not this movie is self-aware or just poe-faced.
Is it paying homage to these classics, even though in many cases, this provokes a strong jocular reaction or has the film’s director Brad Payton just seen one too many and not realised just how much influence, literary, Irwin Allen has had on him. But going back to Johnson’s comments about the film being a remake of sorts of the 1974 Earthquake; sorry but no. This bares more resemblance to Superman: The Movie (1978) and Volcano (1997), the latter definitely, in tone at least. The Tommy Lee Jones led Volcano in L.A. movie was good fun though be it ludicrous on so many levels. But like this, it was over-the-top and enjoyable disaster fair.
San Andreas is filled with vacuous characters all serving their purpose of driving the plot’s next big action cue and they do so with great efficiency with the pay off’s being spectacular. What this film sacrifices in screenwriting nous, it makes up for in visuals. The pacing is good, the action high-octane but even though the body count is enormous there is no emotional weight to any of it. It is just one of those guessing games as to who’s getting it next and the enjoyment as when the most deserving bastards get their comeuppance.
Even Kylie, who must take the award for the funniest death in the whole film, deserved it a little. She was slightly mean to Emma (Carla Gugino), Johnson’s on-screen wife, so sorry but you’ve just signed your own death warrant! Other characters such as Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) , the Caltech processor who as just learned to accurately predict Earthquakes the day the world’s strongest is about to hit (good timing or what?), were clearly going to survive as his role was to take us through the “complex” plot one step at a time, for those in the back.
It went something like this… “Earthquake, Oh my god, it’s not over. Oh God another Earthquake. On my god an tsunami! California is now and island…” And just in case you were wondering, The Rock informs us at the end that “We will rebuild”
No shit Sherlock!
This is destined to be a late night classic and an enjoyable one at that. But not Dwayne Johnson’s finest hour to be honest.