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San Andreas: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

San Andreas (2015) movie poster San Andreas

Theatrical Release: May 29, 2015 / Running Time: 114 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Brad Peyton / Writers: Carlton Cuse (screenplay); Andre Fabrizio, Jeremy Passmore (story)

Cast: Dwayne Johnson (Raymond Gaines), Carla Gugino (Emma Gaines), Alexandra Daddario (Blake Gaines), Ioan Gruffudd (Daniel Riddick), Archie Panjabi (Serena Johnson), Paul Giamatti (Dr. Lawrence Hayes), Hugo Johnstone-Burt (Ben Taylor), Art Parkinson (Ollie Taylor), Will Yun Lee (Dr. Kim Park), Kylie Minogue (Susan Riddick), Colton Hayes (Joby O'Leary), Todd Williams (Marcus Crowlings), Matt Gerald (Harrison), Alec Utgoff (Alexi), Marissa Neitling (Phoebe), Morgan Griffin (Natalie Sawyer)

Buy San Andreas from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack Blu-ray Combo Pack DVD Instant Video

Disaster movies are nearly as old as movies themselves. A mere four months after the Titanic sank, there was a German film dramatizing it. Eleven years earlier, a 5-minute British short called Fire! depicted a burning house and rescue efforts. The genre began a golden age in 1970 with the release of Best Picture nominee Airport, which paved the way not just for sequels but like-minded blockbusters such as Irwin Allen-produced The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno.
Though the craze calmed down in the '80s, another disaster movie renaissance came in the 1990s with huge hit films like Twister, Titanic, and Armageddon. It remains a lucrative and productive genre, with even poorly-reviewed entries like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 finding massive returns around the globe.

San Andreas is the latest disaster movie and unabashedly so; this reasonably high budgeted film can be described in no other way. As the title suggests, it is an earthquake movie, whose action primarily takes place along the San Andreas Fault that runs through California.

We open with a distracted teenaged driver running into some trouble along a cliffy road in the San Fernando Valley. Called in to save her is Raymond Gaines (Dwayne Johnson), a military veteran who has added to his Afghanistan record as a Los Angeles Fire Department Air Rescue pilot. More often than not, Ray gets the job done calmly and coolly, even when the job involves tethering his helicopter to a precarious automobile. Ray has a daughter in college named Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Emma (Carla Gugino), his soon to be ex-wife, is about to move in with her new boyfriend, architect tycoon Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd).

Do you smell who The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is saving? His daughter and no one else in "San Andreas."

But while they're going about their broken family plans, Cal Tech professor Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti, slumming) and his colleague Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) are celebrating the apparent effectiveness of their predictive seismology software. The two get a front row seat to their success as the Hoover Dam is hit by a 7.1 on the Richter scale and blown to pieces. Hayes can authoritatively tell us that more earthquakes are coming, as if we didn't already gather that from the genre.

The quakes indeed keep coming, as forceful as a 9.6, the largest in recorded history. While California is rocked by these violent shocks, Blake finds herself trapped in a limo in a San Francisco parking garage, abandoned by Daniel, who is clearly not as decent as we are first meant to believe. Fortunately, she has two gallant British brothers looking out for her (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson). The perks of being a hot girl.

In this time of crisis and destruction, you know that Ray Gaines will be up in the sky. But don't feel too safe because the only way Ray is saving your day is if you are a part of his immediate family. Selfishly, Ray ignores the masses in need to use his work helicopter and lifesaving expertise purely to save his wife. Once he does that, the two bond over remembering their dead daughter and then working together to try to find and save their living one.

Ray's teenaged daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) is abandoned by Mom's new boyfriend, but still gets a couple of British brothers looking out for her.

Even for the genre, San Andreas is very dumb and ludicrous.
Clouds of dust billow, buildings crumble, and our lead actors remain photogenic, well-groomed, and improbably attractive. There is nothing subtle or graceful about this movie. But then it doesn't make any claims to be either of those things. It only wants to be the kind of large-scale entertainment that only deep-pocketed motion pictures can be.

The world has proven to be more than okay with the film's modest ambitions. This $110 million production grossed $155 million domestically plus an additional $315 million overseas. It currently stands ninth among all 2015 releases in worldwide earnings, though it will probably fall to around 20th when everything is said and done. Still, Warner Bros. Pictures will take that, as this has been their biggest hit by far in a year that has challenged them with a couple of high-cost, high-profile flops in Jupiter Ascending and Pan.

As commercially potent as it is, San Andreas is artistically limp. From painfully overhasty character development to the iffy element blending of visual effects shots to the sheer myopia and absurdity of the plot, the film is content to be the mindless, manipulative B-movie you fear it to be. It's the kind of movie whose ending is never in doubt, whose last line is "Now, we rebuild", and whose end credits run alongside seismic waves while an Australian pop star covers the Mamas and Papas' "California Dreamin'." You can't make this stuff up.

San Andreas is now available to own on DVD and in Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D combo packs, the three-disc latter of which we review here.

San Andreas: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-rays: 7.1 Dolby TrueHD (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
All: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Blu-ray only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $44.95
Three single-sided discs (2 BD-50s & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase with Lenticular Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as Blu-ray Combo ($35.99 SRP), standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The main allure of San Andreas is its ability to depict mass destruction in a convincing and cinematic fashion. It certainly does so on Blu-ray, its 2.40:1 image staying sharp and striking throughout. The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is also a feast of sorts, calculatedly enveloping you with effects from all different directions.

Director Brad Peyton is full of enthusiasm and praise in the audio commentary and making-of featurettes. Off to the side of every earthquake movie are men making the sets shake.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director Brad Peyton, who got the job after steering two family film sequels to Warner's apparent approval. Recording his first track, he sounds just as grateful and green as you'd imagine. Without lull, he gives information regarding what's onscreen, like having Australia play California and just how amazing Dwayne Johnson is. It's a fairly technical talk from which few without directing ambitions will derive real enjoyment.

On the video side, where of course everything is in HD, we start with "San Andreas: The Real Fault Line" (6:23), a short featurette focusing on the film's realistic depictions of earthquakes with practical effects.

"Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue" (9:24) celebrates the film's marketable star for its action heroics.

"Scoring the Quake" (6:13) turns our attentions to Andrew Lockington's unremarkable original music and tries to assign some importance to it.

Ambitious journalist Serena Johnson (Archie Penjabi) gets a call in this short deleted scene. Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino share a laugh in the gag reel.

Next up comes a reel of eight short deleted scenes (4:40), which show us more of the journalist (Archie Panjabi), Ray calling in sick, and Paul Giamatti's character anticipating tsunami.

The lot can also be viewed with commentary from Peyton, who cites pacing for all of the cuts (of course).

The extras come to a close with a short gag reel (1:22) full of actor laughs and "Cunning Stunts", a funkily-edited stunt reel (2:56) showing off the daring work of doubles involving wires, cars, and miscellaneous danger.

The DVD, the same one sold on its own, only includes Brad Peyton's feature audio commentary as far as extras. The Blu-ray 3D disc holds no extras, allocating all available space to the 3D feature presentation.

The Blu-rays open with two promos for Digital HD movies, the first Warner's new Discs to Digital program and the second just in general. The DVD opens with a Max trailer, the Discs to Digital promo, and further trailers for In the Heart of the Sea, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Like most new Warner discs, the menu simply attaches an excerpt of score to a poster design reformat.

The set occupies a standard eco-friendly blue keepcase, with the Dwayne Johnson-forgoing artwork getting reproduced in lenticular form as the slipcover. The lone single-sided insert supplies your Digital HD with UltraViolet code and directions.

Arthouse fixture Paul Giamatti collects a paycheck as seismology expert Lawrence Hayes.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There never ceases to be an audience for movies that put people in peril. San Andreas is simply the latest in a long line of disaster movies applying the best technology available to destroy cities and landmarks while endangering our heroes. The box office numbers show a huge demand for just such a production and imply that the demand was met with this technically sound and emotionally transparent effort, which I wouldn't hesitate to call one of 2015's worst films to date.

Warner's Blu-ray 3D combo pack treats the film to the demo-ready hi-def picture and sound you expect, adding a few basic bonus features for good measure. Those enjoying the movie enough to anticipate watching it with any frequency should appreciate this release, while everyone else can stay away from this predictable, boilerplate blockbuster.

Buy San Andreas from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack / Blu-ray Combo Pack / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Blu-ray: Avengers: Age of Ultron Tomorrowland Entourage Mad Max: Fury Road
Directed by Brad Peyton: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island | From the Writers: Bates Motel: Season One Red Dawn (2012)
Dwayne Johnson: Race to Witch Mountain Faster Pain & Gain G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Carla Gugino: The Mighty Macs Night at the Museum Mr. Popper's Penguins
Alexandra Daddario: Burying the Ex Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Into the Storm Armageddon Left Behind (2014) The Darkest Hour Seattle Superstorm Skyline The Impossible Battle: Los Angeles

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Reviewed October 21, 2015.



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