"San Andreas" reviews: Critics lean on "The Rock" for disaster movie's positives

"San Andreas," director Brad Peyton's earthquake action-adventure set in a crumbling California, seems to have reviewers taking cover as it hits theaters Friday.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson provides his unbreakable heroism as Ray, a helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department who flies to the rescue of his nearly divorced wife Emma (Carla Gugino) and their college-age daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) as "the big one" -- a long-predicted massive earthquake -- finally rips through northern California.

With little to complain about and yet not much more to praise besides Johnson's reliable charm and courage, critics have been fairly quiet about "San Andreas," a typically-plotted, big-budget geographical cataclysm, leaving the air open for scientists to put in their two-cents about the film's factual viability.

Glenn Kenny from RogerEbert.com focused on the movie's good graphics: "The direction by Brad Peyton is particularly effective during the brisk scenes of disaster, from the felling of Hoover Dam to the snapping of the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm not sure whether it was the editing or my own willing suspension of disbelief but the CGI-manufactured scenes of mass destruction are among the most realistic in this mode I've ever seen."

The New York Times' A.O. Scott thought that the CGI actually undermined the movie's excitement: "The most disturbing thing about this may be how dull and routine it seems. Computer-generated imagery can produce remarkably detailed vistas of disaster -- bridges and buildings collapsing; giant ships flung onto urban streets; beloved landmarks pulverized -- but the technology also has a way of stripping such spectacles of impact and interest."

Still, Forbes contributor Matt Mendelson insists that "San Andreas" hits all the right notes for disaster flick fans (such as his wife who also happens to be a seismologist): "If you saw the trailer and said 'Oh, this is something I would enjoy,' I'm happy to inform you that you're correct. As of now 'San Andreas' is my wife's favorite film of 2015... I won't give away the best gags or the most impressive bits of destruction, but rest assured that those coming to watch California get its ass kicked by Mother Nature will walk away quite satisfied. Sure there are certain (spoiler-y) details that my wife swears could never happen, but it's all convincing enough in terms of its specific drama...The towering level of destruction, as well as the arbitrary nature of who lives and who dies, is indeed sobering if you treat the story with any 'this could happen tomorrow' plausibility."

Tell us: Will you head to theaters for "San Andreas"?