Disaster movies are back! And are cliche as ever.

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

We havenít had a disaster movie in a while, and they usually travel in packs, so Iím expecting a big-budget movie about a Caldera Volcano to hit our screens any day now. San Andreas is the latest of these so-called popcorn disaster flicks helmed by director Brad Peyton who is known for more light-hearted affairs - San Andreas manages to tick every cliche in the book whilst strutting its CGI prowess.

San Andreas tells its destructive story from three different perspectives, the main narrative being through Ray (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock) a rescue helicopter pilot; when heís not saving stranded teenagers dangling from cliffs in California, he is trying to spend time a little more time with his estranged daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) and wife Emma (Carla Gugino), who has seemingly moved on to bigger (and richer) things with new partner Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd).

Unfortunately family time has to be cut short for Ray, due to a small earthquake being reported in Nevada, leading Daniel to now take the place of Ray on his planned trip to San Francisco with daughter Blake - duty calls.

This is where our resident seismologist pops-in to fill our heads with science; Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) is attempting to predict earthquakes before they happen, using a series of arrays planted along the San Andreas fault line, that detect pulse levels. How this works I have no idea, and letís be honest no one cares. With a sudden spike in activity and reports of smaller earthquakes in Nevada, Lawrence and his lab partner Kim (Will Yun Lee) grab their gear and decide to do a field expedition - to see if their gizmos truly work.

Unfortunately for Kim, if this was an episode of Star Trek he would be wearing a red shirt - with smaller earthquakes happening frequently the pair decide that the Hoover Dam seems like a sensible location to detect earthquakes. Alas an excuse for destruction ensues as we get to see a character we met a whole one minute thirty seconds ago, die heroically - maybe he should of spent a little less time on these earthquake shenanigans, and more on repairing that Star Trek transporter that would of saved his life.

But destruction is where San Andreas excels and itís easy to see where the reported one hundred million dollar budget went - the entire movie is a CG-fest. Not all of it is fantastic mind you, thrown in for good measure are a few dodgy looking scenes that arenít quite up to snuff - but in a film that has this much, it hardly detracts from the overall quality.

The real problem with San Andreas is how pedestrian it all feels, everything is a cliche - almost like the writers went down a checklist; hero dude? Check. Sciencey guy? Check. Douchey coward guy? Check. They were only missing a family pet to make it complete. I know we shouldnít expect any kind of deep narrative or reasoning for the on-screen antics of our characters - and instead to be of the mindset that if it looks cool, who cares - but itís everything we have seen before in every other disaster movie, in well ever. Youíll find nothing new here, and maybe that's the idea.

Likewise our main protagonist Ray, is the master of all vehicles, name a vehicle and he can either fly it or drive it, then proceed to crash it - he must be a member of the A-Team in his spare time or something. I think by the end of the movie Ray had used every mode of transportation conceived by man. But at least Dwayne Johnson is able to get a little more emotive in San Andreas than his usual tough-guy outings, as he ventures cross-country to save his now stranded daughter. Itís also refreshing to see his daughter Blake - whilst being the end goal in our apocalyptic adventure - isnít a complete damsel in distress; Alexandra Daddarioís character is quite the savvy type, presumably picking up survival habits through osmosis from her father.

But for every little thing that might be different, the rest is copy and paste - which is a giant shame, as an edgy script with some surprises thrown in could of separated San Andreas from its contemporaries. But for what the film is aiming to do, it succeeds - itís an entertaining flicker of destruction that flies past our eyeballs for nearly two hours, allowing you to sit back in your seat and switch your brain off. You wonít get more than that out of it, nor do I believe itís trying to be more.

If you are looking for a popcorn-flick with your friends this weekend then San Andreas is a valid choice. Youíll have a good laugh at how stupid things were and the way characters acted, then proceed to forget it all soon after. But donít go into San Andreas expecting anything deeper - such as the excellent Chinese tearjerker Aftershock - if you do, you will likely be disappointed.

San Andreas is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD via Amazon or on-demand via Amazon Video.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    27th May 2015

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Cliche

    Lacking any surprises

    Very thin plot

  • CGI

    Emotive Dayne Johnson

    Savvy Alexandra Daddario

Film Info

San Andreas San Andreas
Rating: 12A
Release Date: 28th May
Runtime: 1 hour 54 mins
Director: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Hugo Johnstone-Burt & Ioan Gruffudd

  • 2012
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Into The Storm

I'd personally say no. Whilst no deaths are overtly shown instead employing cutaways, it is implied. There are also multiple scenes of injuries such as impaling and other images young children may find uncomfortable.

The film name refers to the San Andreas tectonic fault line, which is indeed predicted to cause an earthquake at some point in the future. A portion of proceeds from San Andreas ticket sales will go the relief effort in Nepal.