‘San Andreas’ Reviews: The Rock’s Earthquake Movie on Shaky Ground With Critics

Opinion on the disaster epic is split down the middle

San Andreas
Warner Bros

Critics are split on whether or not there is any fault to be found in “San Andreas,” the new earthquake disaster movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that opens Friday.

The flick currently sits at 47 percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with 49 reviews currently cataloged. Those who like it praise it for the scale of the action. Those who don’t rip it for shoddy acting and over-indulgent CGI.

TheWrap’s Alsono Duralde encapsulated the divide perfectly when he wrote:

“There are big, loud entertainments like ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ that I find myself enjoying even with my critical-thinking cap on, and then there are movies like ‘San Andreas’ that somehow go straight to my lizard brain; this movie’s dumb, and its portrayal of urban devastation borders on the pornographic, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t entertained.”

Jeff Baker of The Oregonian wrote:

“‘San Andreas’ does not shake you all night long, and that’s one of its few virtues. It clocks in at less than two hours, only about half of that taken up with a mix of models, computer-generated effects and various other explosions and loud noises. The other half is people saying and doing stupid things.”

Glenn Kenny of RogerEbert.com wrote:

“[There] are really no surprises here. But the action is bracing, Johnson’s performance is solid and, within its extremely narrow parameters, entirely convincing, and Gugino and Daddario are both gritty and attractive. The result is a pretty exemplary popcorn movie.”

Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald wrote:

“This is pure Disaster 101 formula, although distilled to the minimum amount of dialogue and characters possible. Compared to ‘San Andreas,’ 1974’s cheesy epic ‘Earthquake’ with Charlton Heston comes off like ‘The Godfather’ (parts I and II combined).”

Randy Myers of the San Jose Mercury News wrote:

“Much of what happens on screen defies logic, especially the derring-do antics summoned to get our heroes out of pickles. But that doesn’t matter much. What does in this genre is mayhem — towering buildings buckling and crashing to the ground, terrorized folk running here, there and everywhere. You get more than your fill of that here.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club wrote:

[It’s] hard to appreciate ‘San Andreas’ as much more than a series of special effects vistas: impeccably detailed, completely plastic. A prop plane crashes into a mall full of looters, speedboats race to get over the swell of a tsunami before it crests, power lines hiss out sparks as they snap across a San Francisco hill, and it’s all staged in a way that somehow manages to look good without being exciting.

Simon Miraudo of Student Edge wrote:

“If it weren’t for Dwayne Johnson‘s knowing comic timing, particularly as he deploys an inspirational catchphrase or openly threatens Mother Nature, we’d have to call ‘San Andreas” screenplay unforgivable. Yet, The Rock is just so innately winning you can’t help but root for his movie to work.”

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post wrote:

“Oblivious to both narrative logic and the laws of physics, the cliché-filled ‘San Andreas’ doesn’t nearly have the star power of earlier, better disaster movies it borrows from like ‘The Poseidon Adventure,’ ‘Earthquake’ and ‘The Towering Inferno’ — which featured Paul Newman as the tower’s architect, a role played here by an embarrassed-looking Ioan Gruffudd (as Gugino’s fiancé).”