San Andreas - Blu-ray Disc Review

San Andreas Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Package
San Andreas Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Package. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Dateline: 10/12/2015
San Andreas certainly shook things up for those that saw it in the movie theater, but unfortunately, that wasn't enough to shake up the Summer 2015 box office financial numbers.

That being said, the film is now available for your consideration on Blu-ray Disc and it definitely delivers on audio and video side of the equation, but as with many "disaster" films, the story and characters are pretty weak.

However, it may still deserve a spot in your Blu-ray Disc collection. For my perspective - Read my review.

Story

The destruction is massive, but the story is simple and sort of lacking. Action star Dwayne Johnson plays Ray Gaines, who is a Los Angeles firefighter/rescue "superhero", but whose personal life is on the rocks as he is going through a divorce, with his soon-to-be ex-wife now moving in with a new love and his daughter leaving the nest to start her adult life in San Francisco.

However, Gaines' family problems take a new turn as Nevada is hit with a massive earthquake that destroys Hoover Dam, then L.A. is hit with an even larger one that levels most of the city, and the same fate is now destined for San Francisco (and we know what happens when that city shakes).

Now, the only thing that Gaines is focused on is making sure his soon-to-be ex-wife and daughter are safe amid all the chaos, but that is not going to be an easy task...

For more the story, as well a review of the theatrical presentation of the film, read reviews posted by Variety and Glenn Kenny of Roger Ebert.com

Blu-ray Package Description

Studio: Warner Bros

Running Time: 114 minutes

MPAA Rating:PG-13

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Principal Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti, Kylie Minogue, Hugo Johnstone-Burt

Director: Brad Peyton

Screenplay: Carlton Cuse

Executive Producers: Bruce Berman, Richard Brener, Rob Cowan, Tripp Vinson

Producer: Beau Flynn

Discs: One 50 GB Blu-ray Disc and One DVD.

Digital Copy: UltraViolet HD.

Video Specifications: Video codec used - AVC MPG4 (2D), Video resolution - 1080p, Aspect ratio - 2.40:1, - Special features and supplements in various resolutions and aspect ratios.

Audio Specifications: Dolby Atmos (English), Dolby TrueHD 7.1 or 5.1 (default downmix for those that don't have a Dolby Atmos setup), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Portuguese, Spanish).

Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish.

Bonus Features

Audio Commentary: Director Brad Peyton provides a running commentary touch on all aspects of the production include casting and character development, as well as all the details on the special effects work and shooting challenges.

San Andreas: The Real Fault Line: A brief look at how the crew, with the necessary help of the cast, tried to portray the earthquake destruction and its aftermath in as realistic fashion as possible (of course, add the usual Hollywood flair). Some specific scenes are presents as examples.

Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue: When "The Rock" is the star of your movie, you have to have a bonus feature on how he performed some of his own stunts.

Scoring the Quake: Although the Earthquake effects took center stage, that didn't mean the musical score was just afterthought - In this feature, composer Andrew Lockington's approach to the film score was spotlighted, in which he not only included traditional orchestral sounds but sampled sounds from the real San Andreas fault, as well as unusual way piano generated sounds that you have not hear before were integrated into the film.

Deleted Scenes: Eight short scenes (present with or without commentary) that were not included in the films. Most were definitely throwaways that didn't add anything, and if included would have slowed the pace.

However, there are two short scenes in with Pau Giamatti's character (and Earthquake scientist) was on the phone trying to convince the government that a massive earthquake was imminent, as well as another scene in which an assistant reveals that a major tsunami was about to hit San Francisco that I felt would have fit OK in the film's pacing.

Gag Reel: A very brief look at humorous moments from the shoot that, frankly, I didn't think were especially funny.

Stunt Reel: A brief montage of some of the stunt choreography in the film, but I would have liked it better if, in addition to the montage, that some key scenes with have been deconstructed for presentation to the viewer.

Blu-ray Disc Presentation - Video

San Andreas is a stunning film visually and is amongst the best Blu-ray Disc transfers I have seen. It not only takes full advantage of its widescreen aspect ratio in wide panoramic shots, but the detail, color, and contrast were excellent. For example, on those panoramic shots, it was easy to pick out details, such as cars moving through city streets and windows and textures on buildings. Also, facial and clothing details were very good, with different fabrics revealing their unique textures.

One thing that was also impressive was the good balance of the light and dark levels, and the natural well-balanced color palette. Details were easy to see in the both shadows and light.

I also want to point out that although the film is available on 3D Blu-ray, I was sent the 2D version for review, but I was not disappointed.

Although I am a 3D fan, I found that the film displayed excellent depth for a 2D image, especially on scenes where a helicopter or boat is moving between buildings and landmarks. I viewed this film using an Optoma HD28DSE DLP video projector which incorporates Darbeevision video processing that further enhances contrast and detail, but I disabled that feature for the purposes of this review in order get a baseline viewing experience that most consumers would have access to in viewing this film on Blu-ray disc. However, after the viewing I did for this review - I re-watched the film with DarbeeVision-enabled, there was definitely more visual improvement.

Blu-ray Disc Presentation - Audio

For audio, the Blu-ray Disc provides Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel soundtracks. If you have a Dolby Atmos home theater setup, you will experience a more precise and immersive listening experience (vertical height) than with the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 option.

Also, those that do not have a home theater receiver that provides Dolby Atmos or Dolby TrueHD decoding, your Blu-ray Disc player will send out a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix.

The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack I had access to on my system was definitely impressive. As you can imagine, in a film about earthquakes, it is all about the subwoofer,  and, on that score, the film does not disappoint. There is definitely enough low frequency rumbling and shaking to give any subwoofer a workout - and, if you have neighbors residing above or below you - you might consider watching this film when they aren't home, or invite them over to enjoy the fun.

However, in addition to all the shaking and rumbling, the immersiveness of the soundtrack is very good, despite the fact that Dolby TrueHD 7.1 does not provide overhead sound cues as effective as Dolby Atmos can.

First, there is the helicopter flying around your room, buildings start shaking and breaking -. and flying glass and metal coming at you from all directions. Then, top it off with immersiveness of being underwater, and you have a surround sound feast that is definitely a showpiece for sound mixing and editing. If this film doesn't get an Oscar nod for those two categories, I will be surprised.

Final Take

San Andreas is one of those movies that looks and sounds great, but the story and characters could have easily been plucked out of a SyFy Channel movie-of-the-week. However, in this case, the film boasts a much bigger budget and excellent stunt work (a lot actually done by the principle actors - a plus in that respect), which, thank goodness most of which you actually see on the screen.

However, even though the story and characters are nothing special - the dialog acting is passable, and the story and characters do provide some needed breaks between repeated unrelenting destruction.

So, my suggestion is, pop a big bucket of popcorn, gather the family (and those upstairs and downstairs neighbors), rev up that home theater system, don't worry about the story, and enjoy an evening of truly immersive rocking and rolling. Definitely worth adding to your Blu-ray Disc collection as an audio and video demo piece.

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Package Reviewed

3D Blu-ray/2D Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy

DVD Only

DISCLAIMER: The Blu-ray Disc package used in this review was provided by Dolby Labs and Warner Home Video

Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

Video Projector: Optoma HD28DSE Video Projector (on review loan - Darbeevision enhancement turned off for the purposes of this review).

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-NR705 (using Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Channel Decoding Mode)

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Fluance XLBP Bipole Surround Speakers, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

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