The Rock has defeated pretty much every type of opponent you can think of so the only thing left is for Dwayne Johnson to take on the Earth itself with the new disaster movie, San Andreas, easily one of the best disaster movies of the last few years.
The Rock stars as Ray, a helicopter rescue pilot, who plans on taking his daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), to college in San Fransisco but a massive earthquake hits the Hoover Dam and Ray is called in to help with the rescue efforts. While en route, the “big one” hits all of California as the entire San Andreas fault cracks open and LA and San Fransisco are leveled by the biggest quakes in recorded history. Ray reroutes and must first rescue his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) from LA and then together, try to get to San Fransisco to rescue Blake. The plot of the movie is very Disaster Movie 101 and a lot of plot beats you are going to be able to see coming from miles away. There’s a tragic event in Ray’s past he’s going to have to face and he and Emma start to reconnect after facing each crazy disaster scenario. The acting is what puts it above the recent Roland Emmerich abominations like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, as The Rock perfectly balances the action and the drama, the latter of which might be some of the best acting of The Rock’s career. Alexandra Daddario is also pretty great as Blake who, thanks to being raised by The Rock, is incredibly competent and smartly navigates her way through the ruins of San Fransisco with a pair of British brothers she meets early on in the movie. Paul Giamatti fulfills the Jeff Goldblumesque scientist role as the CalTech professor who predicts the chain event of quakes that begins at the Hoover Dam, which he barely escapes in an excellent sequence. None of the characters are the offensive/annoying stereotype of an Emmerich or Michael Bay movie, which helps raise the stakes during the disaster sequences since you care about the characters (with the exception of Ioan Gruffudd as the rich asshole boyfriend of Carla Gugino).
The main attraction of disaster movies is the special effects and San Andreas definitely delivers the goods. Pretty much every major landmark in San Fransisco and Los Angeles is destroyed, including the Golden Gate Bridge yet again. Even after the quakes happen, there’s tons of danger from falling buildings and, eventually, a massive tsunami that floods the city, forcing Ray and Emma to transfer to a boat in their effort to rescue Blake. The Rock actually launches a full land, sea and air assault in San Andreas to get from Los Angeles to San Fransisco.
If you’re a fan of The Rock and disaster movies, San Andreas will satisfy you in both areas. The special effects are great (especially in 3D) and The Rock is fantastic as always. It falls into some cliches as far as the plot goes but, honestly, are you going into this for an in depth plot or to see some landmarks collapse?