While there is nothing new being shown in San Andreas it might be safe to say that this is one of the more care-free films of the summer season. Heading in, I knew what kind of ride I was going to experience. There was Dwayne Johnson being a badass, Paul Giamatti being Paul Giamatti, and complete destruction of California. The film was surprisingly tense and well acted, with a straight forward script. Los Angeles rescue-helicopter pilot Ray Gaines (Johnson) and his wife (Carla Gugino) must travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their daughter (Alexandra Daddario) while the San Andreas fault creates mass destruction.
In all realism, this film shouldn't work. A disaster film based on the San Andreas fault? Dwayne Johnson piloting a summer tentpole film? Seeminly run-of-the-mill thrills? Luckily, everything does work out with the best parts being the unexpectedness of the disaster action. Each ridiculous disaster scene keeps building and building until you think that it can't get any bigger until it builds up again. Fortunately, you are never overwhelmed by the amount of destruction presented. While the surprises keep on building, they aren't super out-of-left-field.
The only problem is that San Andreas tries to be more than a disaster film and has no reason to do so. There has to be downtime, so why not add some tragic family backstory that isn't as heavily touched upon and could have turned San Andreas into more of a two hour drama centered around an earthquake. While it never reaches that level, it does give the film a bit of annoyance.
San Andreas is refreshing for anyone who is already having franchise-whiplash. Dwayne Johnson is a pleasant surprise, as always, and people looking for a good old fashioned disaster film will be surprised by the amount of ridiculously awesome destruction there is. One thing is for sure, no matter how this film does at the box office, there will be a great number of earthquake jokes in the next few days.
Good Qualities: All out fun.
Bad Qualities: Tries a bit too hard to be more than what it is.