Without warning, day becomes night, air turns to fire, and solid ground melts beneath white-hot lava. From director Roger Donaldson comes an adrenaline-pumping adventure starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton. Welcome to the town of Dante's Peak, where a long-dormant volcano is about to erupt with devastating force. Who will survive when the inferno unleashes its fury? the answer will leave you breathless, and the special effects will blow you away!
The first of 1997's volcano disaster movies (the second being Volcano
) was arguably the better of the two, but both of them made for passable entertainment with some spectacular special effects to serve as icing on the stale cake. After all, Dante's Peak
doesn't pretend to be anything more than an updated variation on a whole catalog of disaster movie clichés. Despite all that, it's reasonably enjoyable. It's an added bonus that the script is just smart enough to allow Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton to play their roles with straight faces, never condescending to the audience of the formulaic story. He's a volcano expert from the U.S. Geological Survey, and she's the mayor of a cozy Washington State town perched beneath a volcano that's about to blow. Telltale signs are everywhere, so evacuation must be carried out immediately. Of course, not everybody's eager to leave, and even some of Brosnan's colleagues think his alarm is premature. This sets the stage for massive ash clouds, rivers of raging mud and molten rock, flattened forests, and death-defying escapes by Brosnan, Hamilton, and some (but not all) of her family, friends, and townsfolk. So what if it's all pretty flaky... and can a four-wheel-drive vehicle travel over fire and molten lava without bursting its tires? Don't ask too many questions, and you'll find Dante's Peak
to be (if you'll pardon the pun) a total blast. --Jeff Shannon