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SYNOPSIS: In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot (Dwayne Johnson) makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter (Alexandra Daddario).

Review by Louise Keller:
As far as disaster movies go, they don't come much better than this: heart-stopping action with ginormous stunts and a story that touches your heart. It also helps to have the rock-solid Dwayne Johnson on your side (pun intended) as cars fly, buildings topple, bridges disintegrate, the ocean swells and chaos descends. With a screenplay by Carlton Cuse, director Brad Peyton has ably put together all the elements to deliver a bonanza of a film in 3D that will have you gasping, ducking and clutching your seat (if not the person sitting next to you) as the world rumbles, crumbles and tumbles on the big screen.

Don't miss the beginning - the action starts straight away with a thrilling sequence in the north of Los Angeles where Johnson's chopper rescue pilot Ray shows us what he is made of in a nail-biting manoeuvre, rescuing a girl trapped in her car that has catapulted into a canyon. We quickly learn that Ray is a devoted father to Blake (Alexandra Daddario), a smart young lady with good survival skills and is not too happy about his upcoming divorce to Emma (Carla Gugino), who is just about to move in with Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd), a super-rich architect with a sumptuous pad and no integrity. The fact that we become involved in the relationships is crucial to the film. Also key to the central action is Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt, excellent), a charming young Englishman and his younger brother Ollie (Art Parkinson, endearing), who both befriend Blake and join her on the run as the world collapses around them.

All the performances are solid and there is something reassuring when the larger-than-life Johnson, with his massive pecs and genuine smile says 'I'll bring her back'. Gugino is warm, gutsy and likeable, while Daddario is superb, combining stunning looks with an engaging screen presence. Watch out for Kylie Minogue in a cameo: she doesn't do much, but looks great.

The rumbles, as predicted by Paul Giamatti's seismologist expert quickly escalate and the destruction of the Hoover dam is quite a spectacle. There is much more to come. The skill of the film is that no sooner as we are reassured that everything is okay, another disaster occurs. We are never let off the hook.

If you have vertigo watch out - the sequence when Ray's chopper has gearbox failure will make you queasy, as will the wall of water that lurches in front of us, when Ray and Emma are speeding in a small motor boat in search of their daughter. Boats, planes and trucks are the means of transport as glass smashes, skyscrapers wobble and topple, concrete walls disintegrate, a cruise liner capsizes and the earth growls as it prizes apart. There is something eerie about watching a well-known landmark like the Golden Gate bridge collapse. The lengthy climactic sequence in which Blake is trapped in a building where rising water threatens her air supply is tense and terrifying. The cumulative effect of all the tense, dramatic moments add up, leaving us swept away by the devastation and action.

Shot on the Gold Coast, doubling for the West Coast where the San Andreas fault lies, the production values are extraordinary with a credit list for visual effects that goes on forever.

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(US, 2015)

CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson

PRODUCER: Beau Flynn

DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton

SCRIPT: Carlton Cuse


EDITOR: Bob Ducsay

MUSIC: Andrew Lockington


RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes



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