|Audio Format:||Dolby Atmos 5.1|
|Runtime:||1 Hour 54 mins|
|Studio:||Warner Home Video|
|Release Date:||USA: Oct 13 2015
UK: Oct 12 2015
|See If You Like:||2012,
The Day After Tomorrow
Somewhere, between The Rock and a hard place…
The mother of all earthquakes hits California (splintering off from a teaser quake at the Hoover Dam in Nevada); spreading destruction and devastation from Los Angeles to San Francisco and threatening the lives of everyone in-between. Blake (Alexandra Daddario, Percy Jackson) is in San Francisco, her father; Dwayne Johnson (Ballers, Furious 7, Hercules); is in Los Angeles, and when he hears his daughter is in trouble, it’s a case of sending The Rock to the rescue.
Sure, there’s a little bit more to it than that (but not much); as Dwayne (the onscreen helicopter rescue pilot with a heart of gold and pecs to match) has to recuse his estranged almost-ex-wife (played by Entourage alum Carla Gugino) along the way, Blake gets abandoned by her step-dad and hooks up with two brothers she’s just met (a similarly aged lad and his younger sibling), and the world around both continues to crumble; though San Andreas‘ plot isn’t important. It’s all about the spectacle and the destruction; areas San Andreas clearly excels in.
Showcasing destruction on a scale we haven’t seen since 2012, and doing so with some spectacular CGI, San Andreas keeps bringing the thrills; with earthquake after earthquake, followed by a tsunami, fires, buildings collapsing, a plane crash, and more; each one an adrenaline-fuelled jolt to the action, and flowing perfectly into the next insane race for survival.
Dwayne is obviously fantastic (when isn’t he?); he’s clearly the man for a film like this; a born showman and headliner, he’s essentially the new Arnold Schwarzenegger (but with better acting skills), and excels in not only the fatherly elements, but looks more than capable of handling any of the action thrown at him, has natural chemistry with anyone he’s placed onscreen with, and uses his inherent likability to carry you through the more farcical elements of the plot (accepting that while certain sequences may be ridiculous, they’re certainly fun).
Carla Gugino is acceptable enough (though not especially memorable) as Dwayne’s ex-partner; a simple scream-and-wince role which exists mainly to prop up The Rock, and emphasise his heroism; and while Ben and his younger brother Ollie aren’t especially likeable (Ben’s a bit of a wet-fish, and Ollie’s simply an irritating little weed) they’re brought to life with believable performances from Hugo Johnstone-Burt (Goddess) and Art Parkinson (the Dracula Untold star best known as Games Of Thrones‘ Rickon Stark).
Still, after Dwayne, it’s really Alexandra Daddario’s film; and thankfully her character Blake is given far more to do than run and scream; she’s never the damsel in distress (even when she’s in real trouble), and while she does have reason to wail, and need rescuing now and then, she carries the boys far more than they do her (utilising survival knowledge passed down from Daddy Dwayne), and puts in both a natural performance which suggests she’ll have a lot more to offer in the years to come. And with supports from stars such as Ioan Gruffudd (the Forever star who’s thoroughly detestable as Blake’s step-dad), and Paul Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton) as the one scientist able to predict the super-quake and shout “run”, the cast does a great job all round.
Scientifically though, to put it politely, San Andreas has some rather questionable elements (not limited to the scale of destruction, but including several other obvious flaws of logic), and there are just as many problems with the plot; ignoring several near-impossibilities, there are numerous pitfalls and clichés, as well as the sheer ludicrous flag-waving bravado of the final shot (basically screaming “not even nature can beat us… we’re American!”). Yet somehow, you won’t care.
Any and all problems; science, logic, irritating characters; won’t matter in the slightest because they’re either easy to ignore or, like the flag-waving finale, simply bring a solid belly laugh with them. San Andreas may be ridiculous, but it’s big, it’s bold, and it’s a boat-load of fun. Dwayne and destruction, what more could you want?
With a visual spectacle as big and bold as the one represented in San Andreas you need a solid transfer to bring the visuals home; and this Blu-ray certainly doesn’t disappoint. With outstanding clarity, a stunning level of fine detail, and well represented textures as well as natural looking fleshtones, well balanced colour (the palette does lean a little to the blue overall, but looks fantastic, natural, and as intended throughout), and fantastically deep blacks (which should mean the 3D release would also benefit from solid depth – though that’s simply conjecture).
As the transfer is also free of any and all transfer issues, compression artefacts, banding, aliasing, or print errors such as scratches or blemishes, there’s simply no other way to describe this stellar release as anything but perfect.
Likewise, the audio track is hugely impressive. While it does come with a Dolby Atmos track, sadly we’re only equipped to review to “core” Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix; a mix which is still absolutely incredible. Featuring some truly earth-shattering bass which is nothing if not robust, weighty, and extremely note-worthy, as well as perfectly prioritised dialogue (well anchored in the centre speaker, and consistently clear – never dropping out, despite the level of activity from the other channels), and rear channels which never get a break.
With an unbelievable number of pans, directional effects, and all manner of transitions employed to enhance and accompany the various scenes of destruction happening on screen, every channel gets a thorough workout, and every single effect is nigh-on faultless. With a level of precision which has to be heard to be believed, and excellent handling of the entire soundstage, San Andreas has just made an impressive case for becoming your next reference quality audio track.
Beginning with an audio commentary from director Brad Peyton (which proves both engaging and informative, even if not the most exciting), San Andreas comes to Blu-ray with a number of fan-pleasing special features, including a gag reel; stunt reel; a number of deleted scenes (not all completed work, and all easily skippable); and three featurettes.
Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue looks at crafting the first and final rescue scenes from the film (Dwayne’s big moments); Scoring the Quake sees composer Andrew Lockington discuss the importance of the score in defining the story (an interesting, though perhaps not deep enough, 6 minutes); and San Andreas: The Real Fault Line sees several cast and crew members look at filming several key scenes, in a very EPK-like feature.
Overall a more than acceptable, though far from outstanding, look behind the scenes of San Andreas. With fun elements, interesting tidbits, and plenty of information on the making of the movie it certainly ticks most boxes, yet all feels just a little too promotional, and none of the bonus materials are likely to warrant a repeat viewing.
The Bottom Line:
Easily making the case for becoming your next reference quality Blu-ray (with near-perfect video and audio), and coming to disc with a decent, though not astounding, selection of special features San Andreas is one Blu-ray which is well worth picking up. It also helps it’s a heart-pounding destruction-fest, led by one of the most likeable men in Hollywood (Dwayne Johnson), is non-stop fun from the get-go, and contains some truly spectacular special effects. Buy the Blu-ray, sit back, and prepare to be blown away.
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