Film/Classic logo

"San Andreas"

Directed by Brad Peyton with Dwayne Johnson, Carlo G
ugino,  Alexandra Daddario, and Paul Giamatti, 138 minutes, 2015

Awesome and memorable cataclysms

Dwane Johnson

Dwayne Johnson

By Carter B. Horsley

"San Andreas" is a truly spectacular disaster film with extraordinary special effects in which both Los Angeles and San Francisco are largely destroyed by earthquakes related to the famous fault of the title.

Its remarkable technical achievements are significantly enhanced by the impressive acting chops of its hero, Ray Gaines, played by Dwayne Johnson, the former wrestling star known as "The Rock," who is the heir to Arnold Schwarzenegger's cinematic heroics, who manages to rescue his former wife, Emma, played with considerable gusto by attractive Carla Gugino, and a bit later, his very beautiful daughter, Blake, vividly played by Alexandra Daddario. Johnson plays a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter pilot and early in the film we watch him rescue a girl from a car that had fallen into a deep chasm created by an earthquake.

The next scene show seismologist Lawrence Hayes, played by Paul Giamatti, studying earthquake tremors near Hoover Dam.  He goes there and the dam collapses in a gushing flurry of detail.  He returns to his office where a TV reporter wants to interview him but they are soon interrupted by one of his aides with new data that he interprets as meaning that the 810-mile-long San Andreas fault may be threatened.  He's asked who should be alerted.  "Everyone," he replies with much gravitas.

Dwayne Johnson visits his former wife to drop off a bicycle for their daughter and meets his wife's fiance, the developer of a major new high-rise tower in Los Angeles.  While his wife is having lunch atop the new tower, an earthquake hits and his wife scrambles atop rooftops as towers topple around her, their billowing dust clouds nearly swallowing up Johnson's helicopter as he arrives having been beckoned by his wife on her cell phone.

In one of the "extras" included on the Blu-Ray disk, we can see how is wife is dropped by wires on mats while trying get away from the flying debris individually manipulated and rocked by dozens of assistants in the restaurant and we also see how close-ups of the helicopter rescue are made with a large, mechanical "heli'" horse that shakes, rattles, rolls and veers very dramatically.

Helicopter over LA

This rescue scene is awesome as we watch the helicopter being engulfed by clouds of debris and narrowly dodging collapsing buildings, all in "glorious" and terrifying detail.

Helicopter swerving to avoid falling buildings

In this and many of the following scenes, the detail is incredible, to put it mildly.


Carla Gugino

Ray and Emma try to contact their daughter, who has managed to escape from Emma's fiance's skyscraper with a man and his younger brother as a major earthquake pulverizes San Francisco.


Alexandra Daddario

The roads are not good but Ray manages to trade a car for a small plane and they proceed north only to discover there is no safe place to land.

Luckily Ray finds one parachute and he and Emma jump out of the plane tethered to one another and land safely and then proceed to find a motor boat only to confront a tsunami.  They have to hurry to mount the crest of the tidal wave and narrowly miss being chewed up by the twin propellors of a huge container ship and then avoid being submerged by some containers that fall off the ship.

The huge ship rises up and slams into the fabulous Golden Gate Bridge, which is also being swaped by the tidal wave.

We see the wave crash through the streets of San Francisco, toppling many towers.


Falling buildings

The devastation is breath-taking and as Ray and Emma approach the tumbled city they understandably fear that finding their daughter may not be possible....

In his October 8, 2015 review at,



San Andreas contains a commentary by director Brad Peyton, deleted scenes, and several featurettes, some of which give a hint of the stupendous complexity of the special effects.

ut of 5 stars

This film is ranked 73rd in Carter B. Horsley's Top 500 Sound Films

Click here to order the film from

Home Page of The City Review