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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

What's that noise?

San Andreas (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The film opens in the San Fernando Valley 15 miles north of L.A. Pretty Natalie is tooling along a moun­tain byway, her eyes on … every­thing but the road. There's her purse to reach into, her water bottle to sip from, stuff on the floor, stuff on the back seat, and let's not forget texting. She ignores oncoming traffic coming round the bend, in order to futz around inside her car. When she returns her attention to the road, though, every­thing is copa­cetic. She hasn't gone off the side of the cliff, she hasn't run head on into any­one, she hasn't even swerved. Maybe the audience is worried for her, but she's not.

Suddenly her car is pelted by pebbles in a rock slide. This is bad enough, but it knocks her car off the cliff to tumble end over end. Fortunately for Natalie her air bag deployed, and she wasn't harmed. Her car, how­ever, lands precariously hugging the side of the mountain, dangling over space. Hmm, I wonder if that cell phone of hers works from in there?

The Fifty-Eighth Rescue Squadron arrives on the scene (“There she is!”) with L.A. Fire Dept. helicopter pilot Chief Ray Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) at the controls. They can't get the heli­copter down in there between the crags because it's too tight. With a news team monitoring, they decide, “We're gonna tip the hat.” That involves swinging the copter back and forth as it descends clearing alter­nating pro­tub­er­ances on either side. It's about this time I'm thank­ful not to be watching the movie in 3D. Ray Tarzans his way down to save her.

Cut to CalTech where seismologist Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) is lecturing on big quakes: the 9.1 of Anchorage, AK in 1964 and the 9.5 of Valcliria, Chili. Then he points out to the class that, “The San Andreas Fault runs right up the spine of California.” With Ray's family members visiting L.A. and San Francisco, conducting their business atop high buildings in sight of the ocean, one might think they should take more care for their place­ment (“The whole San Andreas Fault might go off”) rather than worry about personal matters (i.e. college, divorce), but as no evil occurs from day to day they are oblivious. Then the Big One hits, with Prof. Hayes predicting another one soon to follow in a one-two punch. As Ray attempts to rescue his loved ones by land, sea & air, who had diddled around in shaky California, we get to witness that pound of cure worth an ounce of prevention.


“San Andreas” plays for spectacle while streamlining character development. For a catalyst it intro­duces two fifth wheels: the new boy­friend Daniel Riddick (Ioan Graffudd) of Ray's estranged wife Emma (Carla Gugino), and the tag­along younger brother Ollie (Art Parkinson) of interviewee British architect/engineer Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt). Ben is interviewing for a boss whose boss's boss's boss is big-name architect Daniel Riddick who flew down with Ray's and Emma's college-aged daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Ollie helps his bro over­come his initial social awk­ward­ness upon meeting a pretty girl in the lobby, and later in the wreckage he'll help them signal for help. Daniel on the plane told Blake he held no illusion of being able to fill the caring shoes of her father, and when his building collapses on them, he proves it by leaving her in the lurch despite her pleas not to be abandoned. This is a classic illustration of Solomon's saying, (Eccl. 4:13-14) “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.”

Ollie's book on San Francisco Businesses proves useful in negotiating a ravaged town (“My book has every­thing”), it being kind of a S.F. businesses bible. When Ollie starts reading about a word derivation, we might as well be learning some­thing about our own Christian Bible. They want to head for Nob Hill. Nob was an old slang term for members of nobility, the hill referring to a once ritzy part of the city, some­times called Snob Hill. While this word has passed from our American vocabulary, the Brits still use it. My Oxford Dictionary defines the slang term: nob  member of upper classes. Although but for a rare instance it's not an American English word any­more, it's alive and well in British slang. There's a parallel in our King James Version (KJV) Bibles with archaic words. An archaic word is by definition one that is but rarely used except in special contexts. The KJV provides such context where some of these words are used all the time, although only rarely found in general usage. In this movie mention is periodic­ally made to the loss of Blake's sister Mallory in a boating accident. Here's an application of the above, “[s]he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor,” Blake having become poorer for the loss. It's what happened to the good native words, “he that is born in his kingdom,” of the KJV suffering attrition in the general language but being preserved in the Good Book, as we still have Blake alive (for the time being) but not her sister; the Brits still use nob but not their sister Americans.

This movie acts out the use of pronouns in the KJV as opposed to what's in their successors. A pronoun is a marker pointing to a noun it references. The KJV differentiates by case in the second person: thee and thou for singular, and you and ye for plural. Modern versions use you (or you under­stood) for both singular and plural, so we don't know which it's pointing to, some­times resulting in confusion. I elaborate in my review of The Message – New King James Version Parallel Bible. The “poor and a wise child” Ollie uses his laser pointer to signal the rescuers where they are. The “old and foolish king” (big boss) Daniel leaves a most cursory indication with the security guard where the trapped woman is as he flees the building with every­one else.

The old and foolish king who takes over, “for out of prison he cometh to reign,” has a some­what question­able back­ground like an ex-con. Even the New King James Version (NKJV) compro­mises with question­able (though perhaps older) sources in places. In the S.F. melee that resembles a prison riot, Daniel strong-arms him­self into a protected niche displacing the poor sap who'd got there first. The NKJV tries to claim the cat­bird seat of the KJV, and once a teacher or preacher starts using it, that's all we'll hear.

The theme of the adult dolt and smart kid pops up in a lot of movies, and I've covered it's metaphorical application in other of my reviews.

Production Values

This film “” (2015) was directed by Brad Peyton. Carlton Cuse's screen­play was based on Andre Fabrizio's story. It stars Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, and Alexandra Daddario. The cast is very talented, and the characters exhibit some depth despite a relatively mundane script. John­stone-Burt and Parkin­son shine as Ben and Ollie.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for intense disaster action and may­hem through­out, and brief in-passing strong language. For a PG–13 film, it is shockingly brutal (“Close your eyes.”) With help from his cinema­tog­rapher Steve Yedlin, Peyton takes a no- nonsense approach to the action in a crisp delivery with jaw dropping aerial shots of destruction. Editor Bob Ducsay captures the mayhem effectively with­out the audience losing their frame­work. The CGI is solid though no longer novel. “San Andreas” goes all out in its span and scale of disaster. Spectacle takes precedence over character development, but we get to under­stand them regard­less. In this case less is more, because we want the spectacle.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This disaster movie does it right: lots of fantastic looking action, a well paced narrative, and good acting. It's a winning combination. If you're looking for entertain­ment in an action movie, you won't be disappointed with this one.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years, maybe. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Hold on to your seat. Overall product rating: Four and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Of indeterminate age as the cover is missing. Print.