San Andreas posits a somewhat outside the scientific norm premise, that the entire system of tremors under California are about to start shaking simultaneously. So, the entire planet isn’t cracking up, but, man, this is still going to be crazy big. There are fewer characters to follow than in 2012, though there is a broken marriage that we put back together after killing the interloper new husband/boyfriend, so there’s that.
So, let’s talk about the cast. I can’t say that Dwayne Johnson doesn’t do a good job, but I’m not exactly sure why you need a guy with this kind of brawn when most of the movie is him piloting various vehicles from set piece to set piece. Carla Gugino is always a welcome presence in a movie. Hugo-Johnstone Burt and Art Parkinson turn in a couple of serviceable performances as a pair of brothers caught up in the disaster. Paul Giamatti lends the film a touch of gravitas as a geologist with some insight into the earthquakes. (It’s unfortunate that the filmmakers have him invent earthquake prediction technology literally as this particular disaster commences. One of the most egregious coincidences I’ve seen recently.) Ioan Gruffud is entirely wasted in the “jerk who gets his comeuppance because he is shown to be a coward in a truly frightening situation.” I hate that cliche. You know what, some people are ready for earthquakes, and some aren’t. I also want to give special kudos to Alexandra Daddario. This is not for her performance (which is fine) but for just being good looking on screen. I’ve heard more than one person mention how some of her scenes were just so distracting that you forget about the death and destruction.
Not to spoil the ending too much, I just want to point out that the film wants to make you think something is going to happen…and it just won’t. There is no way that thing they want you worry about so much is really going to happen in this film. It’s a big budget American disaster film. It can only get so dark.
So, all in all, fun and exciting, if not groundbreaking or even super-memorable.