Plenty of faults in Rock-buster
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has taken on The Undertaker in the wrestling ring, Mars-based genetic mutations, the Cobra Commander and Jason Statham on the big screen.
But going head-to-head with a seismic earthquake laying waste to California probably presents his biggest challenge to date.
The muscle-bound action star re-teams with his Journey 2: The Mysterious Island director Brad Peyton to play helicopter pilot Ray in this throwback to the popular disaster flicks of the 1970s.
Lost writer Carlton Cuse links up with inexperienced duo Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore on the script and screenplay but by the time you leave the cinema – likely with a splitting headache – after two destructive hours, you’ll wonder how it took three people to come up with such a paltry story.
The plot strand driving things forward sees Ray having to defy the biggest quake of all time to swoop in and rescue his daughter Blake (played by Alexandra Daddario).
Don’t worry if you feel like you’re suffering from deja vu; the “loved one in jeopardy” storyline is a common occurrence in citywrecking blockbusters (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Cloverfield).
There’s also a warning and expositionspouting scientist nobody will listen to – a criminally wasted Paul Giamatti – and gravity and physics-defying characters who decide the best course of action when their entire world is crumbling before their eyes is to ask dumb questions and serve up cheesy one-liners.
As with so many of these ultra expensive disaster blockbusters, it’s the special effects that register highest on the cinematic Richter scale – and they’re as spectacular as you’d expect them to be.
Daring rooftop rescues, helicopter crashes, skyscrapers being swallowed by the earth and a 500ft tsunami all get the pulses racing but are so over-the-top that even renowned – and muchmocked – genre leader Roland Emmerich would blush at some of the carnage.
Johnson’s charisma has often been enough to turn even the most run-of-the-mill flick into something worth watching, and he does his best to lend this cheese-fest some credibility.
Unsurprisingly, the physical stunts are a breeze for his bulging biceps, but the tone of the story is too serious to tap into the likeable, wise-cracking bone-cruncher Johnson has played in everything from Welcome to the Jungle to the Fast and Furious series.
And the leading man isn’t blessed with Rock-solid support, with Daddario screaming, Carla Gugino getting herself into peril at every turn and Aussie Hugo Johnstone-Burt’s token “comic relief” butchering an English accent.
Even more predictable than yet another change on the X Factor judging panel, San Andreas may serve up a few thrills and spills, but the depth on show is as slight and pointless as Kylie Minogue’s cameo.
Quaking in their boots Johnson and Gugino tread carefully