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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

San Andreas (3D) | Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti, Alaexandra Daddario, Loan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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San Andreas | Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti, Alaexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson | Review

It’s Nevada’s fault.  Or faults.  They’re apparently the flashpoints responsible for instigating a series of geological events that culminate in the massive titular fault that splinters the entire west coast, eventually crushing San Francisco with vast, domino-like devastation and disintegration.  The Hoover Dam is the first to fall.  Who knew?

CalTech scientist and eminent seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) - that’s who - but much too late to warn anyone.  Dr. Hayes has perfected a surefire way of predicting earthquakes.  That’s good.  The prediction comes just minutes before the quake.  That’s bad.  And that’s just what happens.

Los Angeles fire and rescue pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) is going through a sad but amicable divorce from wife Emma (Carla Gugino) who is about to move in with billionaire real estate developer Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd).

Ray’s subsequent estrangement from beloved daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) underscores a tragedy in the Gaines family’s past that may have contributed to the impending divorce.

Ray, it seems, can rescue everything but his marriage.

Right on cue, the San Andreas Fault throws a mega tantrum that heads west from Nevada and doesn’t stop until it reaches the ocean, crushing, ripping and toppling every structure and land mass in its path.

It’s a good thing that Ray can pilot or motor practically any type of vehicle, whether on land, air or water, because he can soar above the destruction, saving his soon to be ex-wife from a crumbling skyscraper rooftop before the two embark on a quest to find Blake who’s accompanied Daniel to San Francisco only to be abandoned by him when things get shaky.

The endangered Blake teams up with her own rescuers, a visiting Brit named Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his little brother, Ollie (Art Parkinson). The trio manages to stay one step ahead of the destruction due to Blake’s survival smarts.  The bulk of the film is a back-and forth between Ray and Emma’s efforts to get to San Francisco and retrieve their daughter, and Blake’s journey to safety, leading the way for the two brothers.

The CGI is an even bigger star than Johnson’s jaw line, and when the principals are not on the screen, a ravaged cityscape undulates before the viewer, tossing vehicles and splitting hi-rises as the ground drops out from under a startled mass of humanity.  And the tsunami, don’t forget the tsunami.

Director Brad Peyton (Journey 2 the Mysterious Island) helms a convincing portrait of natural catastrophe and the utter surprise with which it demolishes puny manmade structures.  The 3D effect works here to draw the viewer into the peril, whether it’s flying debris or hurtling down a huge crevice or being on the lower floor of a pancaked parking garage.

Granted, the actual science behind it all is sketchy, but mouthed with convincing gravitas by Giamatti. The devastation is astounding and nearly nonstop.  If you survive the quake, you could be smashed by falling bricks, flipped cars, or exploding gas lines.  That’s what you see this movie for – the “what if” brought to life convincingly by an army of sfx professionals.

Focusing on any other plotline is purely your own fault.


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