MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Dwayne Johnson as RAY GAINES
Carla Gugino as EMMA GAINES
Alexandra Daddario as BLAKE GAINES
Hugo Johnstone-Burt as BEN TAYLOR
Art Parkinson as OLLIE TAYLOR
Ioan Guffudd as DANIEL RIDDICK
Archie Panjabi as SERENA JOHNSON
Paul Giamatti as DR. LAWRENCE HAYES
Will Yun Lee as DR. KIM PARK
Kylie Minogue as SUSAN RIDDICK
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Brad Peyton
BY KEVIN CARR
While aliens, superheroes and dinosaurs were invading cinemas this summer, Dwayne Johnson was taking on fast cars and mother nature. He already had a huge box office hit with the spring’s “Furious 7,” and for Memorial Day weekend, he faced the biggest earthquake in recorded history in “San Andreas.” Now, the latter is available on DVD and Blu-ray for home entertainment.
Johnson stars as a helicopter rescue pilot trying to do his job in the midst of the San Andreas fault line experiencing the most powerful event in modern man has ever seen. Of course, when his family is clearly in dangers – spread across southern California – he uses all of the resources at his disposal to save them.
Regardless of what the director and production crew in the bonus features of this disc will tell you, there’s no real deeper meaning in “San Andreas” than just another disaster film. Sure, there’s a lot of emphasis on the family relationships in the film, these character moments are often painfully formulaic. They do work, and with a likeable cast of Johnson along with Carla Gugino as his estranged ex-wife and Alexandra Daddario as his daughter, they play well enough on screen.
There are also plenty of moments in the movie that feel like hero moments but really have a disturbing context in reality. While Johnson plays the hero, he does abandon his duty as a rescue worker to save his family. I can’t say I wouldn’t do that myself because family is key. However, it’s hard to watch the film and wonder how many people in real life would have died without his assistance.
Similarly, Ioan Guffudd plays the smarmy fiancé of Gugino’s character, and he quickly abandons everyone to save himself. We follow him around the film as he literally throws people into the line of danger that the earthquake causes. When he finally bites the dust, it’s weirdly satisfying… until you realize that his death takes place along with dozens of other people who likely didn’t kill others to survive.
Still, “San Andreas” is an enjoyable flick at the most visceral level. It reminds me of the resurgence of the disaster flick we saw in the 1990s and early 2000s with movies like “Volcano,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Twister,” “Deep Impact” and even “Independence Day.” Those are mostly movies that serve no purpose other than watching destruction and carnage as our greatest urban fears are realized in a cinematic setting. It feels vulturous, sure, but boy if it isn’t entertaining.
When it comes to spectacle, “San Andreas” delivers with impressive special effects and big-scale destruction worthy of the high-definition at-home experience. It’s not a great movie, but it doesn’t run too long and it gives the audience exactly what it expects with a movie like this. It’s popcorn action, and at least it’s not superheroes causing the buildings to fall in this movie.
The bonus materials on the Blu-ray includes the six-minute featurette “San Andreas: The Real Fault Line” which talks a little about the actual fault (though doesn’t really delve much into the real science) and the production, the nine-minute featurette “Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue” which highlights the star’s attributes as an action hero and the six-minute featurette “Scoring the Quake” looking at Andrew Lockington’s score of the film which actually uses the real sounds from the San Andreas fault line.
There’s also four minutes of deleted scenes, which can be played with optional director commentary, a gag reel and a stun reel. Finally, the feature can also be played with an optional director’s commentary.