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San Andreas is a natural disaster film that hit theatres in May 2015. Directed by Brad Peyton, the movie stays true to its definition of a natural disaster film, and is a natural disaster itself. The film includes cinematic shots of buildings flying across the screen, and some background information about the San Andreas fault. At first glance, the trailer for San Andreas looks promising. Action packed clips, and a rescue of a damsel in distress, leaving viewers sitting on the edge of their seat, waiting to see what will happen next. However, the film is literally the trailer repeated ten different times in ten different locations.
The movie opens with a typical teenage girl listening to Taylor Swift before she promptly drives off the road and hangs on the side of the cliff. There, she waits in suspense until finally Raymond “Ray” Gaines arrives in his trusty helicopter, pulling off a dramatic rescue and saving the day. This is the first damsel in distress. The film then jumps to a Caltech seismologist named Lawrence Hayes. Him and his colleague Dr. Kim Park are at the Hoover Dam doing research with a fancy earthquake detector machine when an unknown fault nearby suddenly ruptures. This fault triggers a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that causes the dam to collapse on itself. In a sudden turn of events, Dr. Park decides to become a martyr and risks his life to save a young damsel in distress. The girl is swept away by her mother without a scratch or a second glance at Dr. Park. Spoiler alert, Dr. Park does not miraculously survive and reappear. Throughout all this commotion, Hayes somehow manages to save his trusty earthquake machine, and returns to his office to reveal that the San Andreas fault is shifting. His magical detector says that there will soon be a huge earthquake that will cause mass destruction along the cities near the fault line. At this point in the film, the director decided to have his own take on a famous Jaws quote and had a random assistant pop up and ask Hayes, “Who should we call now?” Which Hayes replies with, “Everybody.” Only twenty minutes into the movie and we have already reached the climax of the film. However, the film doesn’t end until two more damsels in distress are saved. One from a collapsing building, (where Ray manages to swoop in with his helicopter and save the day, again.) and the other from a trapped car. There are scenes from famous landmarks in California, including the Hollywood sign falling down and the golden Gate Bridge breaking into pieces.
San Andreas is different from other natural disaster films because not only does it feature mass destruction, but it also features some intense romance and character development. There are scenes that reveal Ray’s troubled home life where him and his wife, Emma, are going through a divorce. The film has some saucy drama where Emma plays a jerk move and leaves Ray for a handsome architect named Daniel. Several more earthquake clips and a tsunami later, Ray’s daughter nearly drowns until he manages to revive her through CPR without drowning her again with his tears.
The film finally comes to a close with him and his family standing on top of a hill (which somehow manages to remain intact after all the disasters) overlooking all the destruction. With no real way to end the film, the director has an American flag unfurl itself revealing what’s left of California in all of it’s patriotic glory. This film could have been better if there was an actual plot line along all this destruction happening and more independent women, instead of shots with buildings flying over the place and seven thousand damsels in distress.
Overall, I give this film two and a half stars out of five. Half for the death of Dr. Park, one for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and one for the American flag at the end.