The Crown

San Andreas is Unshakeable

Casey Wells, Crown Reporter

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San Andreas is 2015, PG-13 action & adventure/disaster movie directed by Brad Peyton. It stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as helicopter rescue pilot Ray Gaines who, along with his ex-wife (Carla Gugino), must rescue their daughter (Alexandra Daddario) from San Francisco after a massive earthquake along the San Andreas fault. While the movie is somewhat cliche and predictable, it is an intense, visually stunning, and fun film.

 

As of this publication, the movie has a “rotten” rating of 50% from critics on the movie rating website Rottentomatoes.com, but audiences gave it a “fresh” 61% approval rating. San Andreas won the box office in its opening weekend (beating out Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2) and is the movie with the largest opening weekend in Johnson’s career with him as the solo star. The past three Fast and Furious films and 2001’s The Mummy Returns had bigger opening weekends, but Johnson was not the only star in those films.

San Andreas has a good, if not predictable, plot. Cliches are ever present, such as the obvious romance that develops and the wrongdoer getting what they deserve in the end. Another cliche is that the main characters are members of a divorced family. However, the movie does rise above this in that the daughter of the divorced family is not cold and distant to both parents; in fact, she deeply loves each of her parents and is very close to each. This was surprising and very refreshing to see. However, the movie was eventually laughable because if anything at all could go wrong, it did. The worst offender of this is when a cargo ship appears out of nowhere in front of the main characters’ boat. But this and all other obstacles are made manageable by the fact that Johnson’s character knows every disaster protocol and can operate any form of transportation, despite the fact that he is only a helicopter pilot. Even though the plot of the movie is a bit lackluster, few people walk into a disaster movie expecting to be wowed by character development and an insightful narrative. No, people go to see stuff get destroyed! That is where the movie truly shines: the destruction of property. Even so, there are some details showing reactions to the earthquake that are rather insightful. One man is seen shoving another out of his sheltered position and into the path of a collapsing building. After crushing your faith in humanity with that scene, the film later restores your faith by showing a group of survivors on a boat in the background helping trapped civilians whose vessel capsized. It’s impressive to see an action movie give poignant scenes like that, especially when it’s not part of the main plot.

But San Andreas’s biggest strength is its amazing visual effects. The entire movie is beautiful to see. Much of the west coast, from the Hoover Dam to San Francisco, is shown plunging into chaos. Buildings fall and bridges collapse and water flood the streets, all stylized brilliantly to be realistic and exhilarating. Watching these awe-inspiring scenes, you can feel your heart beating faster. The movie’s amazing special effects are breathtaking and definitely worth an Oscar nomination.

Critically, I would give San Andreas 3 out of 5 stars. However, as an audience member, I would give it 4 out of 5. Sure, it’s predictable and a bit cliched, but it’s stunning to see and intense, as well as (most importantly) a very fun way to spend two hours.

 

 

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San Andreas is Unshakeable