- RatedPG13 /GenreAdventure
When it comes to bad things happening in the world of movies, the city of Los Angeles is often the centre of most movie apocalypses.
Aliens wiped out the city in Byron Haskins’ 1953 ‘The War of the Worlds’, Soviet missiles threatened to hit the city in 1988’s ‘Miracle Mile’, while the La Brea Tar Pits burst into a raging ‘Volcano’ in 1997.
Then there is ‘Escape from LA’ (1996), where Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken saves the city from doom and more aliens invade in ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ (2011) and ‘Skyline’ (2010).
And who can forget the city sliding into the Pacific in ‘2012’?
Filmmakers and scriptwriters just love to torch, pulverise and lay waste to the City of Angels for the sake of entertainment. And it is getting another pounding this year with ‘San Andreas’.
Dwayne Johnson (left) and Carla Gugino in 'San Andreas'
After making light family action adventure fare such as ‘Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore’ and ‘Journey 2’, Brad Peyton takes a leaf from disaster maestro Roland Emmerich’s book to direct this disaster epic.
The mother of all earthquakes splits California in half, unleashing death and destruction upon Los Angeles and San Francisco.
At the centre of the disaster are helicopter rescue pilot Ray (Dwayne Johnson) and his family: ex-wife Emma (Carlo Gugino) and daughter Blake (Alexandria Daddario).
Paul Giamatti plays Lawrence Hayes, a noted seismologist who found a way to predict earthquakes. He knows the big one is coming, but before he could warn everyone, it strikes.
And like every other disaster movie ever made, ‘San Andreas’ zooms in on family and how much a father will drop everything to save them.
Ray absconds with a helicopter to save his ex-wife from certain death while the city tears itself inside out. Then he is off to San Francisco to help his daughter who crossed paths with a couple of English tourists (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson).
Although Johnson never found his footing in family-centric movies, the wrestler-turned-actor seems to fit in this time because of the movie's mix of melodrama and soil-your-pants action.
(From left) Art Parkinson, Alexandria Daddario and Hugo Johnstone-Burt in 'San Andreas'
The visuals in ‘San Andreas’ are rich and detailed; the camera capturing every possible catastrophe with striking accuracy.
It is so visceral but unseemingly cathartic to watch nature's fury on the big screen, even if it is simulated, and destroying the world in film is quite profitable for studios – the disaster movie ‘2012’ earned US$791 million (around S$1 billion), for example.
And as the modern-day disaster flick evolves, technology has kept it as the go-to genre for audiences who do not seem to get tired of seeing entire cities washed away by massive waves, flattened by earthquakes, skyscrapers crashing or fires engulfing the landscape.
‘San Andreas’ reminds us why we wait with bated breath each year for the summer blockbuster season, because movies like these are such guilty pleasures and made for lasting impact.
‘San Andreas’ opens 28 May 2015