Action Blu-ray Review

'San Andreas' Blu-ray Review: A disaster epic that more than meets moviegoers' appetite for destruction

October 13, 2015Ben MK

Leave it to The Rock to be one of the few things left standing when a 9.6 magnitude earthquake brings Los Angeles, San Francisco and the rest of the western continental U.S. to its knees. In San Andreas, Dwayne Johnson plays Ray Gaines, an L.A. Fire Department air rescue pilot who must race against time to save his soon-to-be ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), and daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), when they're caught up in the mother of all natural disasters, caused by a rupture in the titular San Andreas fault. Meanwhile, seismologist Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) races against time to warn the American public of the enormity of the danger, with hundreds of thousands of lives hanging in the balance.

A full-on throwback to the disaster flicks of the late '90s and early 2000s, like Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow, San Andreas isn't the kind of movie one should turn to for a compelling plot. But what it lacks in story it more than makes up for with spectacle, delivering scene after scene of epic destruction — and then some. From crumbling skyscrapers to massive tidal waves capable of drowning entire cities, the movie literally leaves no stone unturned when it comes to its depiction of the ferocity of mother nature's wrath.

Of course, that's not to say that the film's human element isn't worth mentioning. Gugino, Giamatti and Daddario are all good in their roles, with Johnson doing an excellent job (as usual) carrying San Andreas on his broad, charismatic shoulders. There's also a great little love-to-hate-him type of part for Ioan Gruffudd, who plays Emma's cowardly new beau, a big-shot architect who gets his well-deserved comeuppance in one of the movie's most applause-worthy scenes. As for the rest of the characters, most of them come across as little more than earthquake fodder, which makes it all the more surprising when some of them actually survive to the very end.

Does San Andreas' Blu-ray presentation deliver enough hi-def "oomph" to shake, rattle and roll the living room setups of home audiences? You better believe it. Picture quality is top notch, showcasing the quake's country-wide swath of destruction with realistic-looking colors and ample detail, highlighting not only every piece of wayward debris, but also every minute scratch on the characters as they struggle to scramble to safety. At the same time, the film's Dolby Atmos soundtrack (which decodes to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for viewers without an Atmos-compatible receiver) makes you feel like you're right in the center of all the chaos, creating an immersive sound field populated by collapsing structures, explosions and panicked crowds screaming for their lives.

Warner's two-disc 2D Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD and an UltraViolet digital copy. A separate three-disc 3D Blu-ray combo pack is also available. Both versions feature the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Commentary by Director Brad Peyton - In this, his first feature commentary, Peyton talks about such things as the idea behind the opening titles and the construction of the opening sequence, as well as the stunt work, the performances, the visual effects, the score, stories behind shooting certain scenes, and more.
  • San Andreas: The Real Fault Line (6:23) - A making-of featurette that focuses on the in-camera effects used to bring to life the quake and its aftereffects, including dust clouds and a tsunami.
  • Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue (9:24) - A piece centering on Dwayne Johnson's role in the film, in particular the physicality of his role and the filming of key action sequences.
  • Scoring the Quake (6:13) - Composer Andrew Lockington talks about the creative process involved in creating the film's score, focusing especially on the movie's themes, the incorporation of the sound of the actual San Andreas fault line into the score, and the use of some unconventional instruments.
  • Deleted Scenes (4:40) - Eight scenes in total, provided with optional commentary by director Brad Peyton.
  • Gag Reel (1:22) - Flubs and goofing around from the set.
  • Stunt Reel (2:56) - A selection of stunt rehearsal highlights from the film.

San Andreas is available from Warner Bros Home Entertainment as of October 13th, 2015. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 56 Mins.

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