Film scores

Soundtrack review: San Andreas (Andrew Lockington – 2015)

Just a few weeks ago I was writing about an animations core written by Andrew Lockington, “Pirate’s passage”. It’s time for a complete change of scenery now as he takes on the disaster movie of 2015, “San Andreas”. I could mention what the story is or just say blah blah blah, it wouldn’t make any difference. I don’t watch disaster movies for the story. I watch them for the CGI and the spectacular explosions and action scenes. Popcorn was invented for this and I will surely rush to see Dwayne Johnson’s adventures as a firefighter trying to find his estranged daughter together with his ex-wife in the aftermath of a major earthquake along the San Andreas Fault.

Now for me, a disaster movie score should be balls to the walls. Go big or go extinct, to quote from another bombastic movie score. Go big also means a sweeping choral main theme announcing the coming disaster and suggesting to me all kinds of huge things. The main theme is textbook epic and I love it. Starts with the choir and builds up into an anthem that makes me very confident in this score. We then get into “Natalie’s rescue” which is nothing you haven’t heard before in terms or frantic action but sounds very good. It’s an explosive cue and it would have been even more memorable without the electronic sounds. The orchestral part was nice though. You know this cue; you’ve heard it quite a few times before in similar movies.

We get introduced to the emotional parts of the score in “Caltech” and, especially, “Divorce papers”. It’s the kind of emotion I’ve heard before in scores like “Battle LA” or 90s disaster movies. It’s that soft piano theme on an almost elegiac background which finally builds up to a beautiful and heroic conclusion. You can’t miss with a cue like this in the context of “San Andreas”. You also need a piece like the heroic and inspirational Americana piece “San Francisco”. I can see the flags rising.

The middle part of the score doesn’t offer many thrills and 70 minutes might be too much. I think “San Andreas” would have worked even better condensed in 45-50 minutes of excellent music. The action moments are very well done and don’t waste much time. They just come and they hit with everything they have. There are times during “San Andreas” when I get really excited, like parts of “Emma’s rescue” or the beautiful “Skydive”. The end of the score is particularly intense and emotional. “I’ll bring her back” and “End credits” are my favorite parts of the album and show the enormous potential of this composer. “End credits” will land straight into my running playlist.

My problem is that I would have expected this kind of score or sound from one of the regular action music composers around. Andrew Lockington is a different name, someone who always has something special to say musically and I guess I don’t hear it in “San Andreas”. The score works and is very exciting but there’s nothing new or unheard of in it. Tomorrow I will not be able to tell this score from other similar ones so this will make it hard for me to return to it. Count this as a very good action score that doesn’t really offer any surprises. But hey, I can’t complain, it sounded great.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 25 / 69

Album excellence: 37%

Highlights:

San Andreas Main Theme

Divorce Papers

San Francisco

Emma’s Rescue

Skydive

I’ll Bring Her Back

I Love You Dad

San Andreas End Credits

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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