Oh man, I was so excited to finally screen the film “San Andreas.” Having experienced firsthand the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines as a kid (and yes, I know I’m showing my age), natural disasters have always intrigued me. Whether it’s a deadly tornado sweeping the land or even a tsunami leveling an island, it’s astounding to think that the planet we call home can easily displace us.
Now, just because I’m fascinated with natural disasters doesn’t mean I would like to experience another one anytime soon. That’s where the imagination of directors like Roland Emmerich of “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” Jan de Bont of “Twister,” and even Michael Bay of “Armageddon” come into play. Their films have captivated audiences for years and have helped people understand how scary nature can be. Growing up in Southern California, we’re pretty much only prone to earthquakes and wild fires, so naturally (get it? as in, disaster… never mind) “San Andreas” hit a little too close to home.
In the film, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Ray, a helicopter rescue pilot with the Los Angeles Fire Department, who’s going through a divorce with his estranged wife (played by Carla Gugino). As they get ready to send their daughter (Alexandra Daddario) to a sporting event in San Francisco, the San Andreas fault line starts to become real active, and essentially all of California is riddled with 9.0+ magnitude earthquakes.
Director Brad Peyton sends us on one doozy of a ride, as we watch what happens when our beloved California landmarks easily topple over like a house made of playing cards. Always wanted to cross the Golden Gate Bridge? Sorry, it’s gone! Trying to take a picture in front of the Hollywood sign? Well, now it only spells out “L-L-Y-W-O.” The CGI strains to keep up as fires rage and tsunamis hit. Now, I’m not going to spoil anything, but Peyton seems to follow the traditional recipe for a disaster movie: “I need to get from Point A to Point B with my loved ones. Oh, here are some handy tools and equipment to accomplish my task. I’m defying the laws of nature and surviving while everyone else perishes! The natural disaster is over, let’s rebuild our lives.”
As a disclaimer, though I love these types of films, I’m not saying they’re cinematic masterpieces in any way. The amount of cheesy dialogue and beneficial coincidences in “San Andreas” (and other similar movies) seem highly unlikely… but that’s the fun of these films! We’re so enraptured with what might happen to us if we experience a catastrophic event, that we’re rooting for the protagonists because we hope to be as resilient as them when a disaster actually happens (knock on wood)!
So do me a favor: go to your nearest theater, spend an exorbitant amount of money on concession snacks, and enjoy watching California attempt to separate from the contiguous 48 states. But before you put on your 3D glasses, just make sure you know where the closest emergency exits are located!