Natural disaster film naturally a disaster

Kaila Young, A&E Editor

The trailer for “San Andreas” features the exciting rescue of a damsel in distress, intensely dramatic music, and entire buildings flying across the screen as people run screaming, setting a generic just-another-natural-disaster-movie tone that is fairly consistent throughout the film itself.

“San Andreas,” directed by Brad Peyton, is about the utter destruction of California when the San Andreas Fault suddenly decides that it’s time to remind Californians to fear earthquakes.

Mass destruction throughout the state is implied, but only two cities actually exist in the movie. Which two are they? You’ve guessed them: Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Pasadena and Bakersfield are mentioned. San Ramon is not.

The movie begins with a distracted teenage girl listening to Taylor Swift as she drives on a cliffside road.

She promptly drives off the cliffside road, where she literally hangs in suspense until Chief Raymond “Ray” Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) shows up in his trusty helicopter and pulls off a dangerously dramatic rescue mission.

This is not the same damsel in distress from the trailer.

Cut to Cal Tech professor Dr. Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) teaching a class about the history of earthquakes (no doubt Earthquakes 101).

Using his fancy earthquake-detecting technology that he invented, he manages to predict a 7.1 quake just moments before it obliterates the Hoover Dam.

Unfortunately, his longtime friend and assistant Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) becomes the first poor fool to die when he stops to rescue an adolescent damsel in distress (not either of the two previously mentioned) and is trapped and killed.

Thankfully, the damsel survives and is promptly swept away by her neglectful mother.

Back in the office, Dr. Hayes looks closer at his magical earthquake-detector and determines that another very big quake is coming. His assistant (not the dead one) breathily asks him, “Whom should we call?” To which he responds, “EVERYBODY.”

That was by far the climax of the movie, but stuff still happens after that. Two more distressed damsels are rescued (including the one from the trailer), the Hollywood sign falls down, and the Golden Gate Bridge collapses.

There is also a less interesting understory that includes some character development. It becomes apparent that Ray and his wife Emma (Carla Gugino) are undergoing a divorce. Ray still loves her but Emma ditched him for some jerk architect Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd), who played Mr. Fantastic in “Fantastic Four.”

A couple 9-point quakes and a tsunami happen, and the resulting flood almost drowns Ray’s daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Fortunately, Ray manages to resurrect her through violent CPR and his almost-tears.

The movie ends with the united family standing on a hill overlooking the destruction of San Francisco. Someone asks, “Now what?” to which Ray responds, “Now we rebuild” and an American flag unfurls on the destroyed Golden Gate in all its patriotic glory.

I give this movie two tentative Grizzly paws, one for the laughs and another for that American flag at the end. #Murica.