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SAN ANDREAS
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandria Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Paul Giamatti, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson
Director: Brad Peyton
Audio: Dolby Atmos 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 114 Minutes
Release Date: October 20, 2015

The earth will literally crack.”

Film ***

San Andreas delivers what you would expect for anyone who's seen big, loud, and bombastic disaster movies. These tend to be formulaic, manipulative, star-studded and flirting with stupidity, so really, there's only one question: is it entertaining?

For this film, the answer is definitely yes. Although every movie like this seems to be a re-tread of The Towering Inferno or The Poseidon Adventure, and you can pretty much guess who lives (the good guys) and who dies (the one selfish jerk), it delivers on thrills and spectacle.

It also features a solid lead performance from Dwayne Johnson. At the beginning of his film career, the late Roger Ebert proclaimed that this man had what it took to be a great star, and he was correct. Here he plays Ray, a rescue chopper pilot, who gets a front row seat to the natural disaster to end them all.

That disaster is, of course, the San Andreas fault line in California, which has been the subject of speculative disaster flicks before, and will likely continue to do so until it eventually and tragically moves from fictional movie star to reality show star. Some have predicted that when that line separates, half of the state will be gone in very little time.

Here, the event is predicted by a Cal Tech professor (Giamatti)...a very cliched role for this type of film, but given weight by having a credible actor in the role. At the heart of the disaster is, of course, some very personal dealings, as Ray has to rescue his estranged wife (Gugino) and daughter (Daddario), with hints of the fact that he already lost one child, and has never gotten over his failure to save her.

Of course, the drama creates a microcosm in the face of an earth-changing event, in which the rest of humanity almost seems forgotten save for a few big CGI scenes. We're talking millions of lives lost here, but only Ray and his family's story earning the only real screen time.

It's a small complaint. There has to be a story line to keep it from being nothing but a special effects extravaganza. The actors bring humanity to the spectacle.

But let's be real...the reason we see these kinds of pictures is to be wowed, and San Andreas does it, with amazing visuals and white-knuckle excitement...and even manages to deliver more brain power than other recent hits like The Day After Tomorrow. If you think the earthquakes are amazing enough, wait until you see the tsunami.

It's a good popcorn flick that delivers the thrills like a good roller coaster ride. It's great fun...and fun is what you want from a movie like this.

Video ****

This is definitely one of the better 3D presentations of recent memory. Images throughout are sharp and clear, with amazing coloring and crisp detail, and almost no 'ghosting' of anything. Absolutely terrific!

Audio ****

I don't know what “Atmos” is, but I DO know this is a fantastic, explosive, and dynamic uncompressed surround track. It was perfectly balanced throughout; even though it got very loud in some places I never had any problem hearing the dialogue. And all channels work overdrive to deliver an immersive audio experience.

Features ***

The extras (all on the 2D disc) include a commentary from director Brad Peyton, plus featurettes on the real fault line, Dwayne Johnson, and the movie score. There are also deleted scenes, plus a gag reel and stunt reel.

Summary:

If you want a great time with your 3D home theater, you can do far worse than San Andreas. With a Rock-solid performance by Dwayne Johnson and incredible, exciting visual thrills, this disc will give you all the bang for your buck and then some.

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