Dante’s Peak (1997)

Rating: 12
Length: 1hr 48
Release: 28.3.1997
Director: Roger Donaldson
About: Volcanologist Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan) and Mayor Rachel Wando (Linda Hamilton), finally convince the unbelieving populace that the big one is about to hit and that they need to evacuate immediately, only to discover her two children have gone up the mountain to get their grandmother. With Earth’s clock racing against them, they must rescue the kids and grandma before the volcano explodes in a fury of flame and ash a million times more powerful than an atomic bomb.

The Good

  • Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton have good chemistry as the two leads of the film. They work well together and are, on the most part, the element that is most successful in the film.
  • Its one of the best films I’ve watched in a long time that has a clear cause and effect structure. While it is a little too obvious for entertainment value, it makes for the perfect example for anyone completing a Film Studies course.
  • The film’s visual effects still stand up, but the bit I loved that it wasn’t just the lava that built up the tension. From the colour of the town’s drinking water to the acidity of the lake; these do not rely on big visuals but have a massive impact upon the story.

The Bad

  • My biggest issue is with Brosnan’s Harry. Why on earth was he sent to check things out if his boss was going to not only ignore his advice, but issue his own. While it makes an interesting commentary for the UK government, the ‘Science’ and the response to Covid-19, it is really frustrating that he’s taken away from time off and that his boss doesn’t expect this to be Harry’s reaction.
  • Some of the camera angles are really weird. I appreciate what it was trying to do, but its so inconsistent that it feels like a second director’s attempt to make a mark.
  • As much as I do think Brosnan and Hamilton have chemistry, I don’t fully buy into the connection of the two characters, mainly to do with Harry and his interaction with Rachel’s two children. I do feel as if in another draft they were husband and wife.

The Ugly

  • Some elements of the narrative were painfully predictable. Which normally wouldn’t bother me so much, but the Grandmother story arc and sacrifice is just bullshit when you remember she’s the reason they’re all in the situation.
  • The ending is very clunky and problematic. The light at the lab is apparently flashing for a ‘day or two’ after Rachel and her children get trapped in the mine and Harry is crushed in the car, yet when they’re all brought out there’s no hint of dehydration let alone Harry showing any pain from the bone that broke through the flesh those days ago.

Final Thoughts

I certainly preferred this to 1997’s other volcano offering, but you really have to shut your brain off for this mindless action.

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