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Disaster Film San Andreas Gets Reviewed by an Actual Seismologist

Dr. Lucy Jones took a break from studing real earthquakes to tell the world what she thinks of cinematic ones.

image via twitter/@DrLucyJones

Doctor Lucy Jones is astonishingly well-credentialed. Per her professional profile, she graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a degree in Chinese Language and Literature, before earning her Ph.D. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She’s the author of over 100 academic papers on earthquakes, and has spent over two decades working for the U.S Geological Survey, as well as at Caltech’s seismological laboratory. Dr. Jones also leads a partnership between the USGS and the city of LA to explore the “seismic vulnerabilities” of that region.


Given all that, you might think Dr. Jones would be too busy being a leading expert on earthquakes to add yet another line to her already hefty resume. Well, think again.

Dr. Jones can now call herself a bona fide film reviewer, after attending—and live-tweeting—the recent premier of this summer’s big-budget disaster flick, San Andreas. As the film focuses on the catastrophic outcome of seismic activity up and down the West Coast’s titular San Andreas fault, Dr. Jones’ opinion seems particularly worthwhile.

After seeing the film, what’s Dr. Jones’ take? Some good lessons, some bad science, and some, as she puts it, “howlers.” Don’t read ahead if you’re worried that a few very vague tweets might ruin the film for you, but for those of you unafraid of spoilers, here’s what an actual seismologist thinks of San Andreas:

It seems that, for all the film's scientific flaws, Dr. Jones genuinely enjoyed herself. That’s probably good news for San Andreas’ director Brad Payton and Warner Brothers Pictures, because, as A.O. Scott says in his review for The New York Times:

San Andreas for its part, delivers a perfectly sensible message: Listen to scientists.”

[via LA Observed, cover image via youtube screen capture]