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Overall Rating
3.3

Awesome31.65%
Worth A Look: 24.05%
Average: 11.39%
Pretty Bad: 8.86%
Total Crap: 24.05%

2 reviews, 67 user ratings


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Volcano (1997)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Taut, entertaining apocaflick."
4 stars

The poorly timed but well-made 'Volcano' arrived three months after 'Dante's Peak,' to which is it infinitely superior.

I was more than a little surprised at how gripping Volcano is, especially after many critics (such as Roger Ebert) dumped on it -- as if the chowderheaded Dante's Peak were a masterpiece and Volcano a pale imitation. (For the record, both films went into production simultaneously; when the release of Dante's Peak was bumped up to February 1998, Volcano got pushed back to April.)

The movie, of course, is just another megabudget pre-millennial blow-out. But these things can be done well or badly, and Volcano goes full steam ahead. Like Speed and Twister, it half-heartedly sketches in some human-interest banalities but wastes very little time on them -- unlike Dante's Peak, with its yawning hour of exposition and its unforgettable stupid Grandma sloshing through the acid. Actually, my only gripe about Volcano is that it offers nothing comparably laughable. Where Dante's Peak was campy and dumb, Volcano is taut and stressful.

The disaster shown in Dante's Peak could conceivably happen; the one in Volcano -- Los Angeles consumed by cranky lava stirred up by a quake -- isn't nearly as likely, and yet this is the more convincing movie. Partly it's because of the special-effects sequences, which aren't just better, they're better-paced and better-placed; the director, Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard), knows how to build one spectacle on another. Early in his career, Jackson made a post-nuclear film for British TV called Threads, and he evokes the fear and chaos of an apocalyptic situation without skimping on the destructive fun.

Volcano also gains from Tommy Lee Jones in his hyper-efficient Fugitive mode, playing an L.A. crisis manager who rattles off orders like a human Morse-code machine. When he tells hundreds of assembled cops and firefighters that they've got to build a six-foot wall to contain the lava, nobody questions him -- you don't question Tommy Lee Jones. He has a good match in Anne Heche as a brilliant geologist who's calm and unflappable in the face of tons of lava. Next to that, a few nosy reporters asking about Ellen must seem like nothing.

Jackson also directed the excellent Steve Martin satire L.A. Story, and Volcano is almost its disaster-flick sister. When the movie takes a breather from destruction, it's usually to get in some jab at the media center of the universe. Forty-five actual newscasters appear as themselves in Volcano, flitting around the apocalyse like moths around a lamp. We glimpse one man on a subway train reading How to Write Screenplays That Sell (perhaps he survived to pitch this movie). Racial tension is touched on, but only to set up the cheesy moment when everyone is covered in gray ash -- get it? Nobody's black or white now!

What I liked most about Volcano is that it has almost no narrative flab. Like Tommy Lee, it goes in with both hands and gets the job done -- it concerns itself almost exclusively with problem-solving (okay, the lava is oozing down the street -- we need a barrier).

And it puts a great spin on a tired cliché in recent disaster movies: the dog that escapes doom by a whisker. Here, the dog gets out of a lava-ravaged building in the nick of time -- but only after pausing thoughtfully to pick up his chew toy.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=322&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/11/07 07:54:53
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User Comments

10/09/10 art TOOMY LEE and ANNE HECHE are more intense than the volcano! 3 stars
1/27/09 nail oh!interesting movie awesome!!! 4 stars
6/23/08 sam excellent 4 stars
10/10/07 diegomg Ilove this movie, is one of my favourites. 5 stars
4/23/07 David Risser The best disaster move I have ever seen!!! 5 stars
10/19/05 Quigley after seeing it so many times, it gets old, but the effects are pretty good. go tommy lee! 3 stars
8/11/05 ES Love that were all the same afterall ending, total cheese, unbelievable premise 2 stars
6/10/05 Indrid Cold A forgetten/forgettable disaster flick. Nifty visuals though. 3 stars
4/18/05 George R-Scott No! This film is terrible. Boring, badly edited and with no characters developed properly. 1 stars
2/07/05 Jeff Anderson THE TOWERING INFERNO KICKS THIS POOR IMITATION'S ASS! Tommy Lee Jones deserves MUCH BETTER! 1 stars
9/26/04 Bucky Buckner Boone From boredom only; Don Cheadle makes anything better than it would normally be 3 stars
4/29/04 Christopher Dimitry Ladiv My favourite movie!Cool,and great! 4 stars
1/13/04 john bale Poor Mr. Jones shouting over F/X, daughter becomes Mother Theresa , a real disaster ! 2 stars
12/09/03 john laughable..an insult to the paying audience 1 stars
11/09/03 I Would Fuck you if you think this piece of shit should have been released 1 stars
9/29/03 Alan Features tires that can be driven through lava without popping. Probably not Firestones. 2 stars
3/31/03 sfghghfghg this movie absolutely sucks -see the core or Dantes peak instead! 1 stars
10/15/02 Charles Tatum Someone should sacrificed this film to the volcano 2 stars
4/14/02 R.W. Welch Standard disaster pic, some pretty good F/X. 3 stars
1/08/02 Andrew Carden A Horrible Rehash Of The Cheesy 70's Disater Flicks. 1 stars
8/09/01 Mr. Hat Not THAT bad. 3 stars
6/14/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe I've seen better...I've seen worse..at least no tacked-on romance, right?? 3 stars
10/18/00 dan it's bad bad bad. See Dante's Peak! 1 stars
6/28/00 Naushad Khanji Disaster flicks are rare.Better like it.Nice entertainment. 4 stars
6/04/00 OS A first rate disaster film 4 stars
4/16/00 steve Well, at least it was better than Dante's Peak 4 stars
2/15/00 Jeff this film was ok, nothing special 3 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski Very cool, very cool. What, you were expecting Shakespeare? Get over yourselves!!! 4 stars
1/28/00 doctor very good 5 stars
1/27/00 Ed Wood entertaining ,a wild ride 5 stars
1/25/00 Jericho a good movie 5 stars
1/21/00 movieman Thrilling 5 stars
1/20/00 ripley very entertaining 5 stars
1/17/00 victor ireccomend this movie 5 stars
1/17/00 Dirk Diggler very entertaining 5 stars
1/17/00 Dirk Diggler This is a thrilling movie 5 stars
1/15/00 D.D. I enjoyed this movie alot 5 stars
1/13/00 henry hill I definitly enjoyed this film 5 stars
1/13/00 GoodFella a very good movie 5 stars
1/13/00 jerry g hugely entertaining 5 stars
1/13/00 the doctor this is a good movie 5 stars
1/12/00 chuckles VOLCANO is the disaster movie to see 5 stars
1/12/00 paul this movie rocked!!, way better than TWISTER 5 stars
1/12/00 jedi knight I thougt this was a good movie 5 stars
1/12/00 box office bob this is much better than "Dante's Peak" 5 stars
1/12/00 moviefreak a thrilling film 5 stars
1/12/00 mickey a very good movie 5 stars
1/12/00 dr.d terrific 5 stars
1/12/00 dr.d i really liked this movie 5 stars
1/11/00 cl a very good movie 5 stars
1/10/00 dr.d way underrated 5 stars
12/04/98 Shadow Raider Awful from blech to shit. Dante's Peak sucked even more. 1 stars
12/01/98 Mr.Pink Even worse than Dante's Peak if that was possible. 1 stars
11/24/98 Fred Fuck LA, let it burn. And the studio that made this movie,that damn little kid at the end.. 1 stars
11/24/98 Lord Of The Dunce Disposable moviemaking. Awful from go to woah. 1 stars
11/10/98 Hugh Jass It stank. Awful movies suck like those Backstreet Boys and Hanson. Biatch. 1 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob I still say Anne Heche can lick any actress working today! (sorry) Better than Twister!!!! 3 stars
10/18/98 katherine it smells like smelly poop. disaster movies stink like my friend natalie. 1 stars
10/17/98 Sailor Moon Ate My Balls Get the hell outta my face! Thumbs down! 1 stars
9/13/98 BBReBozo Heche's tits belong to Leatherface Degeneres? Bah! 2 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Go away, you awful little producer. 1 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball What's next? "Locust"? "Heavy Rain"? "Really Awful Windy Day"? "Blocked Toilet"? 1 stars
8/21/98 Mike F any old piece of shit will entertain me, this was ok. 2 stars
8/21/98 Pete Anne Heche is cool, but this movie is tripe. 2 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet We can walk right next to lava and not get burned. Yeah! We rule n'shit! 1 stars
8/18/98 Johny I couldn't sit through the whole thing 1 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Another "disaster" film, short on idea and tall on suspension of disbelief. Bah. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Apr-1997 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Mick Jackson

Written by
  Jerome Armstrong
  Billy Ray

Cast
  Tommy Lee Jones
  Anne Heche
  Gaby Hoffmann
  Don Cheadle
  Jacqui Kim
  Keith David



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