The Films of Brad Peyton
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
San Andreas (June 26/15)
A fairly typical disaster movie, San Andreas follows rescue-chopper pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) as he endeavors to save both his ex-wife (Carla Gugino's Emma) and daughter (Alexandra Daddario's Blake) in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. Filmmaker Brad Peyton, working from Carlton Cuse's screenplay, has infused San Andreas with precisely the sort of unsubtle and over-the-top feel promised by its hoary setup, with the movie's opening stretch devoted to a series of admittedly impressive sequences detailing California's widespread destruction. It turns out, however, that there's a reason movies of this ilk often possess multiple subplots, as San Andreas progresses into a repetitive midsection revolving almost entirely around Ray's search for Blake (and vice versa). It's far from enthralling stuff that's compounded by an emphasis on underdeveloped periphery characters, including a pair of siblings (Hugo Johnstone-Burt's Ben and Art Parkinson's Ollie) who ultimately wind up tagging along with Daddario's resourceful protagonist. (And though it's always a pleasure to see Paul Giamatti, his seismologist doesn't seem to have any real purpose here other than to warn others of impending quakes.) The movie's watchable yet lackluster vibe is perpetuated by Peyton's overuse of handheld cinematography, as the viewer's confusion over what's happening (and to whom) during certain key sequences dulls the visceral impact that should have accompanied such moments. In terms of big-budget summer blockbusters, San Andreas stands out as a better-than-average endeavor that, at the very least, boasts one of Johnson's most charismatic performances to date.