If there is one thing that is certain about San Andreas it's that the film delivers exactly what you would expect - large scale destruction when one of the world’s most famous faults causes a massive earthquake. We're fans of Dwayne Johnson here so were keen to check the film out because of him, but the other reason was that much of the film was shot on the Gold Coast in Australia - literally minutes away from my home. Oh, I love disaster films too!
After the infamous San Andreas Fault gives, triggering a magnitude 9-plus earthquake in California, a search and rescue helicopter pilot Raymond Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) and his estranged wife Emma (Carla Gugino) make their way together from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter. But their treacherous journey north is only the beginning. And when they think the worst may be over…it’s just getting started.
It must be said that the visual effects in this film are astounding - the Hoover Dam crumbling, skyscrapers falling apart and collapsing, and the massive tidal wave will have jaws dropping. With so many visual effects, and if you have the means, we certainly recommend viewing the 3D version of this film as it adds even more punch to the spectacle.
Perhaps our biggest disappointment is the predictability of it all. Of course the couple facing a divorce will end up back together. Of course the asshole boyfriend will get what he deserves - even though there are a few close calls first. Nice guy scientist will die saving an innocent person and the list goes on. While it may be predictable in many situations there are still a few surprises in the film and we enjoyed the storyline nonetheless (besides, if we ruled out watching films due to predictability we'd never see another romantic comedy ever again!).
San Andreas is a fun disaster film that ticks all the right boxes despite being predictable for the most part. Visually the film really impresses with some amazing set pieces that can be up there with Roland Emmerich's epic disaster films such as 2012, The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day. If you liked those films then you'd do well to check this film out.
The San Andreas Blu-Ray which we received was the 3D set, which includes the film in 3D (For 3DTV's) on one Blu-Ray disc, and the 2D film on a second disc. We actually watched both versions, the 3D version first, and then the 2D version while writing the review. Needless to say you're likely to be impressed with either version.
Encoded using MPC MPEG-4 at the film’s original 2.40:1 aspect ratio the 3D version of the film really adds a level of immersion and excitement to the film with some wonderful use of 3D during the destruction of the city with buildings collapsing and some narrow escapes. Having said that the film was converted in post and not filmed natively in 3D so we did notice some level of "flatness" to some background elements at times. Still, it's not enough to become a big disappointment. Fortunately we didn't notice any major issues with ghosting, nor even smaller ones. Colour reproduction is superb while the transfer exhibits excellent levels of detail and clarity even in the darker or underwater scenes.
Looking at the 2D disc and the AVC MPEG-4 video is also presented at 2.40:1 aspect ratio of the original theatrical presentation and as with the 3D version the clarity and sharpness of the video is superb with a little more vibrancy to the image given there is no need for the 3D glasses.
We did have a bit of an interesting time with the audio on this release, and it's something we're happy to either be corrected on, or will investigate further in future. While both discs contain English Descriptive Audio, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 448kbps, it was the primary English track which had us a little puzzled.
On the 2D disc we had a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track which is an absolute cracker with frequent, active use of surround sound channels and plenty of work for your sub-woofer as well. Dialogue is given good prioritization and remains clear even in the busier scenes. When we switched to the 3D film however the audio was only playing back in our system in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps - we couldn't get the lossless track to play. Quite bizarre indeed, but we're happy to report that even this track was pretty impressive sonically.
Subtitles are available in English for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Greek? Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish. We sampled the English track and it was accurate to the on-screen dialogue with no major issues noticed.
Upon starting this disc we had a trailer for Pan (2:30), but there is some content related to San Andreas with the highlight being an audio commentary by the Director. So let's get into what's included with this release (the bonus content is on the 2D Blu-Ray disc).
Commentary by Director Brad Peyton: A solo commentary is often pretty tough, and this is Brad's first effort apparently. It's a pretty good effort as he discusses many aspects of the film including where various shots were filmed (most of the film was shot on the Gold Coast in Australia, but there was some location shooting in Los Angeles as well), the various actors and characters they play, which parts of scenes were real sets or locations, and which were visuals effects, and so much more. It's a pretty fine effort worth listening to.
San Andreas: The Real Fault Line (6:23/HD): This featurette looks at creating the massive earthquake scenes including a 5-minute single shot by Carla Gugino and using one of the largest water tanks in the world (on the Gold Coast mind you!) to film a scene with a building sinking into the water.
Scoring the Quake (6:13/HD): This nice piece focuses on the score composed by Andrew Lockington and how he worked with the director to create memorable, emotional, music for the film. Of most interest is the way they used a broken piano and played some music through a synthasizer to give that raw edge to the music.
Deleted Scenes (4:40/HD): These eight deleted scenes are presented at 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec, but only with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 448kbps. Still, they are pretty complete (except the last one which is still greenscreen) although there isn't a great deal of content in these scenes that should have been kept in the film.
Deleted Scenes with Commentary from Director Brad Peyton (4:40/HD): The same scenes as above with the director discussing what the scenes were, and why they were cut. Worth watching them again for insight into their removal.
Stunt Reel (2:56/HD): Stunt work is one of the most under appreciated aspects of films (and indeed we're highly supportive of an Academy Award for best Stunt work), and this featurette shows some raw footage of the stunts in the film. It's definitely worth a watch, and would love to see more of this on future Blu-Ray discs.