Caught Between the rock and a hard place
The biggest problem with San Andreas is not just the formulaic action or the lacklustre B movie script, it’s the pure lack of joy and emotion conveyed in every scene. Unlike Independence Day, Dante’s Peak and so many other disaster films, San Andreas just doesn’t feel like much fun and despite the impressive action scenes, its surprisingly bland.
The over-arcing plot about a huge magnitude 9 earthquake destroying California should be reason enough for disaster film fans to be reaching for the popcorn but whilst the film delivers in its scope and some of its visual effects, its let down by some truly terrible characters and a really poor script. Cheesiness can usually be forgiven given the genre but San Andreas not only goes above and beyond this, it features so many cliched disaster movie tropes I lost count. Most of this would be forgiven if the film didn’t take itself so darn seriously but the longer the film goes on, the more tedious and ridiculous it becomes.
The film feels like its constantly battling with itself too. When its depicting action its at least passable as a B movie action piece but too often the film shifts to an awkward family drama, accompanied by awkward dialogue, a woeful script and some really bad, forgettable characters. Even god-like helicopter pilot Raymond Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) fails to inject the film with any sort of charisma evident in many of his other films. Its a shame too as San Andreas starts pretty hilariously with an impossible helicopter action sequence that should set the tone for the rest of the film. Unfortunately, the longer San Andreas goes on, the bigger the cracks that form. Had the script been a little less formulaic and maybe inject some fun in the scenes it could have been passable but San Andreas is a really disappointing film.
When you take the film at face value and completely switch off, there are a few stand out moments. Seeing San Andreas toppling under the power of the earthquake is really impressively rendered. As Raymond zooms over California in his helicopter, there are a few really nice one-shot camera pans that ensue while this occurs but aside from that, there isn’t much else to take from San Andreas. Its hard to even recommend this on a “so bad its good” basis. San Andreas unashamedly steals all the disaster movie cliches you can think of and backs it up with a cheesy, poor script lacking originality or fun.