Thursday, 4 June 2015

San Andreas (4½ Stars)

This film was a risk for me. I'm always reluctant to go to see films starring Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. Admittedly, he's better than most professional wrestlers who turn to acting, but he still comes across too wooden in most of his films. I took a peak at the Rotten Totamotes summary, because it's usually a good place to get a quick spoiler-free opinion, and I read "San Andreas has a great cast and outstanding special effects, but amidst all the senses-shattering destruction, the movie's characters and plot prove less than structurally sound". Okay, it was primarily the special effects that interested me, so I went to the cinema, accompanied by my friends from the Birmingham film club.

I needn't have worried. In this film The Rock excels himself. He convincingly carries the role of a loving husband and father in the middle of a divorce. He's sad, but he's not angry, and his emotions are apparent in what he doesn't say rather than what he says. The other characters are just as convincing, and I can't fault the plot, apart from the opening rescue scene which seems more impossible the longer I think about it.

Ray Gaines (The Rock) is a veteran of the Afghanistan war who now works for the Los Angeles Fire Department. We meet his team at the beginning, but they soon disappear as the action focuses on Ray's solo mission. A series of major earthquakes devastate San Francisco, which is where his wife and daughter are currently visiting the offices of his wife's new boyfriend. Instead of taking part in the official rescue missions, Ray sets off on a one-man hunt to find and rescue his wife and daughter, as the city collapses around him.

"San Andreas" is far superior to the award-winning "Earthquake", made in 1974, and not just in the special effects. The human interest story is also more gripping. This is an incredible film, visually breath-taking and emotionally moving.

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