Despite never enjoying them, I end up getting wrangled into seeing a surprising amount of disaster movies. Inexplicably, somewhere along the line, this genre became the #1 most formulaic, clichéd, and predictable art form since…. Since, uh…. Well, fuck. I wanted to put something funny here, but I actually can’t think of something less daring than disaster movies. For the uninitiated, lemme sum up: Protagonist is some form of seismologist or otherwise an ill-respected professor of natural disasters. He (this character will be male 100% of the time) predicts whatever flavor of disaster is on its way, only to be mocked by his peers. Quickly giving up on humanity, he will set out to rescue his estranged/divorced wife, who hates him, and his daughter, who also hates him. There may or may not be an “other man,” but if there is, he will absolutely be a spineless sack of shit who abandons the protagonist’s family in their great time of need. The Hollywood sign will also fall down. After rescuing the family in question, they will immediately see the error of their ways and become a happy family unit once more. And there you have every disaster movie ever. Now that you’re caught up, let’s take a look at San Andreas, which, shockingly enough, features the San Andreas fault line as its primary antagonist. That’s that underground earthquake-machine that’s been sitting around waiting to go kablooey for the past couple centuries, if you were wondering. This movie stars The “Please Call Me Dwayne Johnson” Rock as its protagonist, standing out as the single risk this film considered worth taking. Well, if John Cusack survived the end of the world, then I don’t think The Rock needs to worry. <Wrestling music intensifies.> “But wait!” the hilariously large team of writers screamed unanimously. “If we cast The Rock in the lead role, who will give all the seismological exposition that audiences definitely all want?” Thus, Paul Giamatti found his way into the film. Not that I’m complaining, because it means Paul Giamatti’s in the film. Mr. Giamatti (who I would honestly watch eat a tomato if someone considered it worth filming) plays the hero of another story, popping up briefly to inform the audience of what exactly the fuck is going on. He’s a professor of seismology who, yeah, has been predicting it all along, only to be mocked, ridiculed, and promptly ignored. Sound familiar? It sounds kinda like the aforementioned hilariously large team of writers (I’m sure three people were required to put together the least risky movie ever made) may have gotten some script samples mixed together, awkwardly leaving in the classic disaster protagonist as a side character, who never interacts with anyone else in the film and just sits in Caltech explaining what’s going on. This leaves room to have an action protagonist – The Rock. The Rock is a double-extra-good rescue ranger fireman helicopter guy, as the movie is quick to point out to us. I attribute this to his ability to rip car doors of their hinges, as it’s the only thing of note that is actually shown to us, rather than told. He’s also on the poster, so that makes him cooler. With its single deviation from structure out of the way, San Andreas proceeds to behave exactly the way I expected it to – in fact, I spent much of my time in the theater doing my best to predict how each plotline would culminate. The only time I was wrong was when I thought Han from Fast and the Furious would live. The Rock has his obligatory estranged wife, distant daughter, and the “other man,” played here by Ioan “Please Give Me Work” Gruffudd… who I’m a bit confused about [Editor’s note: Me too. I thought for sure that name was a typo!]. Mister Fantastic starts out seeming like a really cool guy – he cares about his family, tries to be understanding of the situation he’s in, is passionate about his work, and seems to honestly care about his girlfriend’s daughter in a genuinely non-creepy way. About half an hour in, however, he realizes that he’s the boyfriend of the protagonist’s wife in a disaster movie, and quickly turns his attitude around by spontaneously transforming into a spineless sociopath. How long did it take the director to tell Ioan Gruffudd that he wasn’t the main character? Poor bastard shouldn’t have left New York. “Oh God, where am I?!” Carla Gugino plays the wife/mother, who has four unique attributes: She is seemingly indestructible, she lacks any form of supportive undergarments, she has no sense of when not to bring up painful subjects, and she has completely forgotten how to properly emote. Her expression of choice in this film is “pained smile,” no matter how inappropriate that particular expression may be. Prying into memories of your long-dead daughter? Pained smile. Being held at gunpoint? Pained smile. Your fiancée abandoned your still-living daughter in a collapsed car? Pained smile. Who knew it was so all-purpose? Rounding out our central cast is Alexandria Daddario as the daughter, who is surprisingly white considering her Italian mother and Samoan father. Possibilities of a mailman-incursion aside, she’s actually a pretty good character, exhibiting a pleasant combination of vulnerability and strength, and she clearly paid attention when her father taught her survival techniques. Of the film’s cast, she is the most efficient survivor despite having the least resources – The Rock always has access to some form of vehicle and supplies, making his accomplishments less impressive than Daddario’s, who is on ground level and on foot through the entire film. Also important is that her eyes are the color of the sixth circle of Hell. Fortunately, I find that focusing on her chest takes the edge off of her optical soul-rape. Just stop! Don’t look at me like that! It makes me feel unclean! You may notice that I’ve paid more attention to the characters and just general quirks than I have to the plot itself. That’s for a reason – the entirety of San Andreas‘s plot is the family attempting to reunite through the disaster, with occasionally glimpses of Paul Giamatti looking very concerned. There are a few side characters, such as the news crew who make their way from the opening scene over to Caltech, and a pair of British brothers who bring some much-needed comedy to a film that’s overall far too serious. If you were (for some reason) sold on San Andreas because you heard that Roy from Arrow was in it – you’ve been lied to. Duped. Fleeced. He shows up in an intro scene for about ten minutes and is never seen or heard from again. We don’t even learn whether or not he lived through the disaster. Other than that, it’s mostly just a lot of this: Gets boring pretty fast. Ooh, hey. I bet they solve this with a bomb somehow. Worked in fucking Sunshine, and I think that was a slightly bigger problem. For that matter, it also worked in Sharknado, and… yeah maybe a bomb isn’t the best idea after all. So that’s San Andreas, I guess. Was it any good? Uhh… well, if you like disaster movies it’s okay. If you’re looking for a complex story or characters, this may not be what you’re looking for. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Punk Faye July 2, 2015 Like, every freaking disaster movie ever made ever. This comment contains 100% non-hyperbole Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.