Rip-roaring action makes up for a very shaky plot

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Rip-roaring action makes up for a very shaky plot

THE CARDBOARD cut-out out characters and flimsy plotting of San Andreas didn’t exactly make the earth move for me.

But this is a disaster movie  -  and if you’re looking for big-scale earthquakes, tsunamis, tumbling building and people running for their lives, you’ve come to the right place. 

Shot in 3D, the movie is centred around the worst-case scenario that has been the subject of speculation among seismologists for decades. What if the San Andreas fault line, which runs along the entire south west coast of the US, were to experience a big one? 

That’s the theory already being put forward by earthquake expert Dr Lawrence (Giamatti) as he talks to his students about the major west coast faultline, and the theory that a big quake is long overdue. 

He’s devised a method of predicting a quake that no agency will support  -  and when disaster first strikes at the Hoover Dam, he’s on site trying his theory out. 

Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson tries his best to project some of his famous onscreen charisma onto the film’s painfully generic script. 

He’s LA Fire Chief Ray Gaines, a man well rehearsed for worst-case scenarios, but currently struggling with the break up of his marriage to Emma (Gugino) and the bitter fallout of her new relationship. 

But as we all know, first-world problems don’t cut it when disaster strikes and the couple are forced to work together to find their missing daughter. 

Luckily for Gaines, some of his common sense and survival tactics have rubbed off on his twenty something daughter, who befriends two English tourists as they battle wave upon wave of disaster. 

Do summer audiences really care about poor characterisation or cliched scripting when they’re paying their cash to see a disaster movie? I suspect not, and while there’s a lack of dramatic tension because of these flaws, the disaster scenes are both abundant and well rendered. 

It’s terribly formulaic but it’s very well cast. Johnson is as reliable and endearing as always, though I’d like to have seen him given a little more free reign. And the younger stars who carry the film’s central plot all do a fine job. 

San Andreas (12A) 3/5 STARS