‘San Andreas’ review: a faulty yet realistic disaster movie

By William Cuellar

Brad Peyton’s “San Andreas” is a different kind of natural disaster movie. With realistic imagery and good actors, “San Andreas” offers a fresh take on the disaster movie. However, its faulty science undermines the film’s overall quality.

The film follows Chief Raymond Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), a fire and rescue helicopter pilot, and his family, as well as Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti), who portrays a seismologist and professor at the California Institute of Technology.

The movie opens up with Ray saving a young woman, whose car was stuck on the side of a cliff.

After the daring albeit cliche rescue, Lawrence foreshadows the events to come as he lectures students at Caltech about seismology and the San Andreas Fault. The professor then travels to Hoover Dam to perform a series of tests. The dam, however, is immediately struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

The quake unleashes chaos on the dam and its surroundings as the nearby Mike O’Callaghan”Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge collapses and the Hoover Dam shatters.

Shortly after the Hoover Dam quake, Ray prepares to fly out to Nevada to assist in the rescue operation. While flying to Nevada, Johnson calls his soon-to-be ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), who is at a lunch in Downtown Los Angeles. During the call, L.A. is struck by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake, forcing Johnson to turn around and rescue his wife.

After the heroic rescue, they get a call from their daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who had flown to San Francisco with Emma’s new boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd). A large earthquake suddenly strikes San Francisco, and Blake becomes stuck in a car under a parking structure.

By a stroke of luck, Blake is rescued by Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt). Ray and Emma spend the rest of the film trying to rescue their daughter.

With brief pauses for Lawrence to forecast the earthquakes that were about to his San Francisco, the movie is largely focused on the rescue as the family fought to overcome multiple earthquakes, a helicopter crash landing, a truck jacking, a perilous skydive into AT&T Park, a tsunami and lots of collapsed buildings.

“San Andreas” was different in that the destruction scenes were extremely detailed. While Johnson flew through Downtown L.A., the buildings flowed by like ocean waves.

Although the best parts of the movie dealt with the details, the movie was riddled with scientific inconsistencies.

It is extremely unlikely that the San Andreas Fault could generate an earthquake with a magnitude over 8.3. Hoover Dam was built to withstand large-scale earthquakes.

Considering where the earthquakes originated in the film, the tsunami that struck San Francisco is also scientifically impossible.

While “San Andreas” captured the audience’s attention through its vividness, some of the scenes left the audience cringing in pain with their unrealistic portrayals of the natural disasters and their origins.

Overall, “San Andreas” had great visual and special effects as well as good acting. However, the film was fairly predictable and, at times, too over-the-top. The scientific inaccuracies also take away from the film’s authenticity.

“San Andreas” is rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout and brief strong language.

“San Andreas” is in theaters now.

San Andreas

Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

San Andreas

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