Blu-ray: San Andreas

SanAndreasBluSTUDIO: Warner | DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton | CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Paul Giamatti 
RELEASE DATE: 10/20/15 | PRICE: DVD $28.98, Blu-ray Combo $44.95, Blu-ray 3D Combo  $44.95
BONUSES: commentary by Director Brad Peyton, featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel, stunt reel, more
SPECS: PG-13 | 114 min. | Action thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby TrueHD 7.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French, Spanish, Cantonese, Estonian, Indonesian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian and Thai subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

A big, effects-filled movie featuring the equally sizable Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson, San Andreas delivers on the bigness and effects that we’ve come to expect from a big, effects-filled summer entertainments.

Disaster strikes relatively early on, when the infamous San Andreas Fault is activated and triggers a magnitude 9-plus earthquake, knocking down a good chunk of Nevada, and later a helluva lot of California—from So-Cal all the way up to San Francisco. In the midst of it all is a rescue helicopter pilot (Johnson, Pain & Gain) who doesn’t focus his energies on the devastation going on around him, but rather on his estranged wife (Carla Gugino, Sucker Punch), who he snatches up from a crumbling L.A. high-rise so that they can fly/drive/speed boat up to San Francisco to save their only daughter (Alexandra Daddario, Hall Pass).  Wouldn’t you know that even as California is torn asunder and millions are killed, The Rock and his family pull themselves back together?

Carla Gugino and Dwayne Johnson survey the damage in San Andreas.

Carla Gugino and Dwayne Johnson survey the damage in San Andreas.

Yes, the family storyline is silly, and so are some of the peripheral characters, including Ms. Gugino’s cowardly, rich boyfriend (Ioan Gruffold, Fantastic Four)  and a couple of British brothers whose presence is solely to throw in some accents and lead us in ogling Ms. Daddario when she strips down to a tank top. A little more engaging is Paul Giamatti (Love & Mercy) as the requisite earthquake scientist who foresees the disaster and forecasts an even bigger one to arrive during film’s second hour.

Of course, disaster movies are all about the effects and San Andreas is on top of them. Though CGI visuals will never carry the heft of practical effects, they’re still very dazzling and detailed here. And there really are some spectacular CGI moments—particularly during the San Francisco quakes that dislodge a speeding BART train from its tunnel and create a monstrous tsunami that trashes half the city and the Golden Gate as it tosses ships about like Tinker Toys. The practical effects are all the more striking for their realism—there’s something about falling debris, breaking glass and stuntmen engulfed in flames as they plummet to their deaths that feels real because, well, it’s real.

Again, as far as popcorn-friendly summer entertainment goes, San Andreas hits the appropriate notes. Not that it isn’t worth catching on your home theaters, but this one must have really rocked on the big screen and in 3D.

There’re a bunch of bonus features, including a handful of deleted scenes (most of which are expository ones from the film’s first quarter), a high-energy commentary by director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mystery Island), a reel of the impressive stuntwork, and a piece on Mr. Johnson himself, whose solid presence has been making the Earth move under our feet for years now.

Buy or Rent San Andreas
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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.