I went to see San Andreas last night – not expecting cinematic brilliance – but was still shocked at just how bad it was. (Some spoilers below…)
Now I’ve sat through some really awful films in a cinema in my time. I just can’t bring myself to leave once the film has started. I almost walked out of one of the Transformers films (can’t remember which; they’re all equally awful and incomprehensible) but sat through to the very poor ending.
San Andreas was no Transformers. It didn’t have the depth of plot that Transformers did. In fact, I felt a sense of deja vu all the way through, as I accurately anticipated what was going to happen about ten minutes before it appeared on screen. Possibly because the trailer is almost as long as the film itself, and details all of the main scenes. The whole experience was so predictable, I could actually anticipate the dialogue before it was spoken.
The film is a series of movie tropes and cliches, stitched together in a series of epic explosions and extended visuals of buildings collapsing. If I compare it to the classic disaster movies of the 70s (e.g. The Poseidon Adventure), the special effects were clearly superior.
But as we saw from the Star Wars prequels, you can’t make a compelling film on the back of special effects. And San Andreas lacked any sense of character depth or development.
Again, I didn’t expect great things last night. I’d seen the trailer at least twice before and knew what kind of film it was going to be. I just couldn’t have prepared myself for just how shallow and pointless it all was.
- Troubled family backstory for the male (heroic) lead
- Estranged wife of male lead exposed to danger, requires rescue
- Smart scientist who predicts everything, but nobody will listen
- Daughter of male lead exposed to danger, requires rescue
- An “evil” stepfather, who eventually gets his comeuppance
- Countless “inspirational” phrases said directly to camera, without any sense of irony
It could have been either edited down to a snappy 70 mins of non-stop action, or completely refocused on the efforts of the team of scientists working to anticipate the disaster and convince the authorities before the earthquakes hit. San Andreas lands somewhere between the two, attempting to do too many things at once: human interest, science, romance, disaster etc. etc.
If you’d like to switch off your brain for a couple of hours and relax to the sight of massive buildings collapsing, then San Andreas is for you. As someone who has survived his own earthquake, I had more fun lying awake in a Tokyo hotel awaiting aftershocks.
Still interested? Here’s the trailer. It’ll save you from actually paying to see this…