Rock within the rubble

Dwayne Johnson.
Dwayne Johnson.

SKYSCRAPERS tumble, bridges collapse, land undulates, tides rise and debris flies but the biggest mess that needs cleaning up is the San Andreas script.

Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson leaps and dives among the rubble from clich� to clich� in this hilariously straight-faced disaster film whose only ambition is to rival Michael Bay in the destruction stakes.

While a devastating earthquake rattles California, rescue helicopter pilot Ray (Dwayne Johnson) and Emma (Carla Gugino), who are on the verge of divorce, come together in Los Angeles to find and rescue their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) who is stranded in San Francisco.

Blake, who was abandoned by her mum�s construction tycoon boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd), has English brothers Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and Ollie (Art Parkinson) in tow as they seek high enough ground for rescue by her dad.

Of course, both parties are faced with life-threatening hurdles along the way as cities fall around them and the earth opens up between them.

Not only is the script built on disaster movie moments, plots, characters and sentiments we have seen in every other film in this genre, it is riddled with on the nose metaphors and lousy dialogue.

Women need saving, people say �Oh my God� a lot, cities are flattened and the leading man is the unequivocal hero; it is all so overly familiar, to the point one wonders how this got the green light.

The biggest surprise is how hilarious this all is with its outlandishly impossible stunts and narrow escapes trying to one-up past genre instalments.

This becomes an exercise in absurdity and inadvertently becomes the comedy of the year, outdoing recent hits Spy and Pitch Perfect 2 on the laughs chart.

The Rock saves a lot of lives in San Andreas and yet he cannot save this pile of wreckage.

San Andreas (M)

Directed by: Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti

Two and a half stars

Review by Julian Wright

In cinemas now