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San Andreas

Directed by Brad Peyton wth Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario and Paul Giamatti,  114 minutes, color, 2015

Skyline collapsing

San Francisco skyscraper collapsing

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.


Big wave

Big wave approaches the Golden Gate Bridge


Collision with container ship

Container ship apporaches the Golden Gate Bridge



Containers

Container ship dumps containers on the Golden Gate Bridge

According to an October 8, 2015 article by Martin Liebman at Blu-ray.com, "the movie's entire VFX scheme presents seamlessly and with so much volume and complexity that it's arguarble that San Andreas boasts the absolute best digital effects ever committed to a motion picture." "They're that impressive, that thorough, that seamless, that believable. And it's not only the big details like collapsing buildings and raging tsunami waters but also, and more critical, the manner in which every last bit of dust, each tiny piece of flying debris seems accounted for, all of it painstakingly dense and complex and manipulated to the exact placement and perfectly aligned details of every chain reaction of devastation. The movie is unquestionably a tech highlight reel of what modern digital artists can accomplish on a very large scale," the article continued.

"San Andreas may be the perfect combination of popcorn flick meets human interest drama meets special effects spectacular.  Director Brad Peyton nails it...by way of finding that expertly balanced middle ground in which all the pieces come harmoniously into focus, altogether and for the duration."

Destroyer in trouble

Destroyer attacks skyscraper


Helicopter

Dwayne Johnson's helicopter surveys San Francisco's damage

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.

Whoops

Dwayne Johnson's helicopter trying to avoid collapsing tower

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


Crunch

Out of control oceanliner batters coast


A long fall

Good-bye


To the rescue

Dwayne Johnson


Dwayne and Carla

Dwayne Johnson takes Carla for a parachute jump with only 1 parachute

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. 

Big wave

Big wave approaches the Golden Gate Bridge


Collision with container ship

Container ship apporaches the Golden Gate Bridge


Containers

Container ship dumps containers on the Golden Gate Bridge

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.


Carla

Carla Gugino is not having a good day

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

Alexandra Daddario is really happy to see her father, Dwayne Johnson, on other side of window

The movie isn't perfect as Giamatti is a ham as are a couple of other characters, but Johnson and Daddario and the special effects are fabulous.

The Blu-ray comes with an audio commentary by the director, a look at some of Dwayne Johnson's most demanding scenes, and other features including stunts.


Click here to order the blu-ray from Amazon.com