Dante’s Peak (1997) / Volcano (1997)

Hollywood’s perverse habit of releasing competing movies on the same topic is well documented. If things work out, both films are profitable, ala Deep Impact and Armageddon. More commonly, one (or both) of the pictures tank. Sometimes one film has a better idea of what audiences want. When Wyatt Earp and Tombstone clashed, it was a battle between a very good serious film and a very good rousing movie. People preferred the latter, and Tombstone enjoyed success while Wyatt Earp became Kevin Costner’s most unwarranted failure.

The year 2000 saw dueling Mars films vying to hit theaters first. Mission to Mars won the race…and fared poorly at the box office anyway. Now the producers of Red Planet have to hope that viewers were rejecting the film and not the theme.* (And that star Val Kilmer doesn’t throw an Island of Dr. Moreau.) Otherwise, our two Mars films might become this year’s Prefontaine and Breaking All the Odds. You know, the rival movies about runner Steve Prefontaine? You don’t? That’s exactly what the makers of Red Planet are afraid of.

[*As we now know, Red Planet also bombed. Following the failure of further films like Mars Needs Moms, Hollywood indeed decided that the great unwashed hated films about Mars. The most obvious result was Disney stranding John Carter at the box office because they feared to advertise what the film was about.]

This leads me — as you might have guessed from the title of this piece — to 1997’s competing ‘volcano’ movies. Both, ultimately, did middling business. (Although Volcano, which I was surprised to learn sported the smaller production budget of the two, fared somewhat better at the box office.) At least the films’ producers tried to set the movies apart, though. Dante’s Peak is set in the small mountain community of Dante’s Peak, WA, features second tier stars, and is rather stupid. Volcano, meanwhile, is set smack in downtown Los Angeles, features one major star, and is extremely stupid. These are their stories.

10 Things (and more) I Hate about Dante’s Peak

  • The opening of Dante’s Peak is actually pretty good. The title is introduced with a volcanic eruption, and it’s nice to get right into things.
  • At least until we see what the purpose of this scene is. Unlike Volcano, I hadn’t seen Dante’s Peak until I started writing this. Therefore I wasn’t prepared for how incredibly schematic the script would be. So not only do we meet lead Pierce Brosnan as a heroic seismologist, but we witness him losing his wife/lover/whatever in the initial eruption. This is already playing like a generic template script from a screenwriting class, with events being used to make us ‘care’ about our characters. Will Brosnan find love again? Will he be able to save his no doubt soon-to-be-introduced new love? Three minutes into the movie and it’s perimeters are already snapping into sharp focus. Not many surprises will be found here, I guess.
  • Sure enough, the very next image is of Brosnan, “four years later,” torturing himself with exercise. A photo of his dead wife/lover/whatever appears on screen, ‘cluing’ us in on how he’s still haunted by her death. Also, his room is really messy, because, you see, he just doesn’t care anymore. Look, we know this is a disaster movie. We’re watching it to see incredible spectacle, flamboyant deaths and mass destruction. Admittedly, cornball personal stories are a hallmark of these films, but frankly, we don’t really care. Unless you’re really going to surprise us by either killing off Brosnan or his new love (Linda Hamilton, presumably, as she’s the female lead) or actually lending some depth to the characterizations, well, we’d don’t give a rat’s ass.
  • Clichès ahoy! Brosnan learns that the long dormant Dante’s Peak is showing signs of activity. (“What do you think the odds are against an eruption up there? A thousand to one?” “More like ten thousand to one.” There’s some original dialog.) So he heads to the nearby town, wittily named Dante’s Peak. This sits right under the matte painting, er, volcano, and we find a celebration going on there. You see, DP has been named America’s 2nd Most Livable Small Town…”Most Livable,” huh? There’s an irony for you. Yeah, boy. Bet it won’t be so ‘livable’ after that volcano erupts and starts killing people and stuff.
  • We cut to the home of Hamilton, who’s the town mayor. Continuing the Plot-O-Matic 3000™ scripting, she’s also a single mom — i.e., potential love interest — and has two adorable moppets. Hey, they could be Endangered Loved Ones Who Must be Dramatically Saved later in the movie! Hmm, speaking of, I’m sure there’s a family dog around here somewhere.
  • By the way, if Hamilton’s the mayor, why is she still at home while the big Pioneers’ Day Parade is going on? Isn’t that the kind of thing a small town mayor would be overseeing?
  • Terminal Cuteness Alert!! First, Brosnan is staying at a motel called Cluster’s Last Stand. Ha ha. (Nor is this ever explained. Is the owner named Cluster?) Then, as Hamilton rehearses her speech accepting the previously mentioned award, she can’t remember the presenter’s name. Then she can’t remember where her jacket is. Then she’s berated by her has-it-all-together Adorable Young Daughter. Ha ha. It’s so hard to raise a parent these days, isn’t it?
  • As Hamilton drives to the awards ceremony, we see happy, laughing children jumping into the local river. The bucolic happiness of these early scenes will no doubt make the horrors to come all the more poignant. Wouldn’t you think?
  • The Most Livable Town Award (man, that’s just so ironic) is being presented by Money magazine. I’m not sure if this is a knee-jerk Hollywood knock against Capitalism or not. However, given the fact that the volcano has lain quiet up until the time when the town is recognized by *sniff* ‘Money‘ magazine makes me suspect that this is the case. Perhaps if the award were being given by Sierra magazine — which, now that I think about it, actually would be ironic — all these lives might have been spared. Anyway, I predict that the woman from Money will get whacked.
  • I knew it!! After giving a speech about how wonderful the town is, Hamilton introduces an Evil Capitalist (or so we can assume, as there are no other kind) who is planning to *gasp* invest in the town. Ha! Man, I can smell this stuff a mile off. Anyway, now that we have an authentic Evil Capitalist to knock off, I guess the woman from Money magazine isn’t needed anymore.
  • We cut to two Innocent Young Lovers skinny-dipping in the local hot springs. And, oh-oh, they’re visiting from LA! (Damn Big City Types!) And look, birds are spontaneously flying away. Animals always know, don’t they? Hmm, what could happen now? Let’s just say that when I describe the woman as ‘hot,’ I’m speaking in a literal sense.
  • When Brosnan introduces himself to Hamilton, the Evil Capitalist horns in. Can he also be after Hamilton’s affections? I wonder who will end up with her in the end. *Cough*
  • Hamilton finds her errant Mildly Rebellious But Adorable Son hiding with some buddies in the town’s Abandoned Mineshaft. Hmm, could they be setting something up for later in the picture?
  • How come the Adorable Son’s face was clean when he left the mine, but is now smudged with dirt?
  • Wow, Brosnan sure is bonding (no pun intended) with those kids quickly.
  • Hamilton visits her ex-mother-in-law at the woman’s remote but extraordinarily beautiful mountain home. Boy, the old lady is cantankerous. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was the film’s Beloved Yet Crustily Stubborn Old Coot Who Refuses to Leave Their Home (and Pays the Ultimate Price)™. Keenan Wynn, as I recall, played this trope in a made for TV volcano movie back in the ’80s, but I couldn’t dig up the film’s title.
  • And, hey, look, Grandma has a dog.
  • Hmm, abnormally high acid count in the local lake. Dead withered trees. Maybe something is wrong here after all. Despite, you know, the ten thousand-to-one thing.
  • Brosnan looks at a rock for a second and tosses it away. He notes that examining rocks can tell you when the volcano was last active. “When?” Hamilton asks, and he responds, “Seven thousand years ago.” Give or take ten years, I’m sure.
  • Watch out! Adorable Son is preparing to leap into the previously established Deadly Hot Springs! Whew! Brosnan stopped him at the last second. Thank goodness. Hey, there are the parboiled bodies of the earlier victims. Soup’s done!
  • Hamilton — at Brosnan’s suggestion, duh, why is this woman mayor? — calls a town council meeting. It turns out that some of the other town leaders (all men, natch) want to cover things up, in case the Evil Capitalist decides not to invest in the town. Where do scriptwriters get their ideas?
  • Brosnan’s crew arrives in town. Let’s see: A woman, an Asian, a Middle-Eastern-type fellow (filling in for The Black Guy) and the Comic Relief Bearded White Guy with a Taste for Loud Clothing. Yep, everyone’s here. Also, Brosnan’s Salt of the Earth Boss & Father Figure. I’m not entirely sure this guy will make it through the picture.
  • Brosnan’s Boss isn’t ready to accept the situation yet, as it’s too early in the picture. He thus shows up at the council meeting to disagree with Our Hero. (It’s a standard element in Disaster Movies that there’s one guy who knows what’s going on but is ignored.) This provides *cough* Dramatic Tension while also supplying inadvertent cover for the Evil Male Obstructionist Town Leaders. In a bit that I’m sure Liz from the And You Call Yourself a Scientist! site would love, the Boss is shown to be misguided because he wants to wait for scientific evidence instead of panicking the town based on a gut feeling. This is what Brosnan wants to do, and, of course, he will be proved right. I’m sure that, being a Misguided Boss as opposed to a Resentful, Arrogant Boss, he will make up for it later with a Tragic Yet Redemptive Death.
  • Just in case they were being too subtle, I guess, the Boss later tells Brosnan that one must consider *gasp* political and even *double gasp* economic matters in a case like this. How evil. Again, does anyone else find it weird that Hollywood spends, as they do here, over a hundred millions dollars to make a film that sneers at (lower and middle-class) people who worry about ‘economics,’ all in hope of making further hundreds of millions back? And does so again and again and again?
  • Brosnan goes to a diner and, lo, Hamilton is the owner/waitron/short order cook. Of course, she’s a small business owner (and a woman), so it’s OK. It’s not like she’s some Evil Capitalist, investing in small towns and such. Also, we wouldn’t want to think that she’s just a politician. No, she’s a modern Super-Woman: Mayor, Business Owner, Single Mother. And, needless to say, she’s superlative at each job. Meanwhile, the fact that her sign promotes the diner’s espresso and cappuccino is meant to assure us that, despite living in this small town, she’s no hillbilly rustic or anything.
  • Pepsi Product Placement!
  • While Hamilton’s sophistication is indicated by her serving espresso and cappuccino, Brosnan orders a ‘regular’ coffee, establishing that he’s a unpretentious Real Man. I know this all is confusing, but the politics of coffee are very complicated.
  • This whole scene (including an extremely pointless spilling-coffee-on-Brosnan bit) is, apparently, meant to provide our stars with a ‘moment.’ So that we understand how they’re falling in love and all. Romantic music plays in the background, lest we somehow have failed to catch on to all this.
  • Speaking of my fellow sitemaster, Liz, I should lodge a complaint on her more liberal behalf. If I found Hamilton’s character obnoxiously PC, an equally valid or even superior objection could be made from the other side of the aisle. To wit, except for being beefed up with ludicrous credentials, her ‘character’ really doesn’t have any function other than in relation to Brosnan. She acts as his romantic foil, thus providing for his ‘redemption’ vis-a-vis his wife/lover/whatever’s death. Also, between herself and her kids she provides a passel of potential victims for him to white knight. In fact, it’s this ridiculous lack of direct functionality that no doubt resulted in the character being gaudied up with her superfluous mayoralty and business ownership.
  • Liz will be particularly thrilled to learn that this feminist paragon, our Mayor/Entrepreneur/Single Mother, still has time to periodically come by and deliver coffee to the seismologists. Now, to an extent, this can be justified. She does operate a coffee shop, and as mayor she might just be checking in to keep tabs on the volcano situation and bringing along the java to be nice. Still, it’s pretty funny. I should note that, in this one small regard, Volcano is the better film. While even more horrendously Politically Correct than our current subject, at least that film’s heroine is a seismologist and thus serves an actual plot function. The fact that the character is played by the laughably inadequate Anne Heche doesn’t diminish this fact. Well, OK, actually it does.
  • Hamilton invites Brosnan to dinner, saying it’s to thank him. When he asks why, she reminds him that he saved her son’s life at the hot springs. Yeah, that’s a pretty good reason.
  • She also thanks him for “caring.” That, I guess, and the ‘saving my son’ thing.
  • Brosnan goes up in a helicopter with Bearded Guy and finds no evidence of an impending eruption. “It’s quiet,” BG notes, to Brosnan’s frustration. (Pick your own punchline: ‘Yeah, too quiet’ or ‘That’s what the volcano wants us to think.’) This again illustrates why you need somebody with a good gut feeling, because otherwise you keep demanding scientific ‘proof’ and ‘evidence’ that something’s going on. Actually, we earlier were shown a nearby lake boiling. Even if it stopped, wouldn’t all the dead fish seem kind of weird?
  • Over to Hamilton’s house for the dinner. Brosnan is consistently shown getting along smashingly with the kids, just so we know he’ll be a good father when he and Hamilton end up together. He shows them how to line up and then knock over a series of dominoes (c’mon, the son’s like twelve and he’s never seen this?), leading the daughter to ask if he knows “any other tricks.” (?) Not exactly a tough crowd. Appallingly, he does know more tricks, and ‘comically’ does the old Invisible Thread gag. Luckily, the scene ends before his legendary repertoire of card tricks is brought to the fore.
  • Later, Hamilton and Brosnan are sipping wine on her porch. “I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” she says. Ah, the Pathos.
  • As mournful yet romantic music (yes, OK, we get it) fills the soundtrack, Brosnan reluctantly opens his heart and tells Hamilton the story of his dead lover. See, by sharing this most intimate and painful part of himself with her, he alerts us that Hamilton might be the one with which he can finally find love again. Are we clear on this? Because I wouldn’t want anyone to miss it.
  • Brosnan goes onto the volcano with Asian Guy and Bearded Guy to set up some seismographs. This horrifyingly sets up some, that’s right, ‘comic relief’ regarding his burgeoning romance with Hamilton and Bearded Guy’s wacky past attempts to set Brosnan up. This scene is rather perfunctory (thank goodness), but makes us wish that the volcano would get a move on.
  • Oh oh! More ‘humor.’ See, Middle Eastern Guy *really* likes his cappuccino. Take my word for it. This is the second time they’ve mined this rich vein of comedy, so I guess it’s now officially a ‘running’ gag. C’mon, where’s that volcano?!
  • They now showcase a walking robot (it’s the ‘cool science’ part of the film) that’s to enter the volcano and send back video. It gets stuck on the way down and Bearded Guy goes down to monkey with it. Since they haven’t killed anyone is almost half an hour, I think we can safely assume that…yep, there he goes. Oops, wait, he’s only wounded. Brosnan repels down to help him and calls for a helicopter. I guess this isn’t a Cool Death Sequence, it’s a Cool Rescue Sequence.
  • When the team contacts the local ‘copter guy to affect the rescue, he holds them up for more money. Hmm, a greedy helicopter pilot in a disaster movie. I expect we’ll be seeing that guy later.
  • Earlier they went out of their way to establish Bearded Guy removing an “ELF” unit (Extreme Low Frequency) from the robot. We can only assume that this gismo will play a role later in the picture.
  • The Boss gives the situation another week. (Brosnan had asked for two days.) Then, with no evidence having presented itself, he prepares to pull out. Despite Brosnan’s Cassandra act, the others concur. Dammit, don’t they see that he’s the star of the picture?! What more ‘evidence’ do they want?
  • Cut to a local tavern. Brosnan is playing pool and Hamilton’s at the bar. She’s seen momentarily talking to the Evil Capitalist, who has had like a half minute of screen time at this point. Either they radically edited his part down or else they just felt they needed an Evil Capitalist in the movie, introduced him, and figured their job was done. Personally, I’d bet there was an earlier draft of the script where he played a much bigger role.
  • Back to Hamilton’s place for a, ugh, wistful romantic scene between Hamilton and Brosnan. (Because he’s about to leave town, get it?) Boring! Where’s that darn volcano, already?!
  • Luckily, this is interrupted by the emergence of contaminated water from Hamilton’s tap. In response, the couple heads up to check the town reservoir. (Hamilton has the keys, the only time when her being the mayor really comes into play.) Needless to say, the water supply is tainted by volcanic activity. This allows Brosnan to wake his boss and snidely note that “I’ve got the ‘scientific’ evidence you need.” Yeah, take that, Mr. Empiricist!
  • Hamilton’s mother-in-law, when contacted, states her intention to stay put. Apparently she’s the film’s Beloved Yet Crustily Stubborn Old Person Who Refuses to Leave Their Home (and Pays the Ultimate Price). Who’d have thought?
  • Having concluded this brief conversation, Hamilton notes that nothing can be done to save Grandma, triggering protests by her kids. (How about sending the cops up there to evacuate the old bag by force?) Hamilton then goes to attend a town meeting, telling the kids to stay put at home. Could they possibly telegraph this any more? Hmm, stubborn beloved Grandma up on the mountain, concerned kids left unattended…where could this all be heading?
  • At the town meeting, the Evil Capitalist prepares to make his escape, “before it all hits the fan.” Why, he just cares about himself! How typical of an Evil Capitalist! Boy, that guy’s toast. (I’d like to point out that they haven’t even bothered to make him responsible for the eruption or, really, anything. Nope, he’s a Capitalist, and that’s enough, even if he’s had roughly forty seconds of screen time up ’til now.)
  • Just now the rumblings start, triggering an earthquake. Hmm, maybe herding the entire population of the town into a single building wasn’t such a great idea.
  • This also sets up the obligatory Frenzied Mass Stampede, featuring the de rigueur Guy Being Trampled In the Panic. Outside, a gigantic plume of ash is erupting from the volcano. Finally! The mass destruction we’ve all been waiting for! Wahoo!
  • I know this is only a movie. But I’ll always be haunted by the image of that pink stuffed bunny falling from the window ledge.
  • Speaking via radio, the Boss admits that Brosnan was right and he was wrong. (Take that, ‘Science’!) Yep, they’re setting up a Noble, Redemptive Death alright.
  • One of roads out of town turns out to be, invariably, a collapsible concrete overpass. (Why? IITS.) Is this standard in mountain communities in the upper Northwest?
  • Good thing that Hamilton’s in the truck with Brosnan. Otherwise, who would react to a nearby building toppling over by saying, “Watch out!”?
  • This ride through the collapsing town, by the way, has Theme Park Ride all over it.
  • OK, buildings collapsing, power lines and sparking transformers falling down, billboard signs pitching over, gas station catching fire…yeah, I think that’s everything.
  • Somebody *really* must have liked the effect of seeing Hamilton’s reflection ghosted on the window that she’s looking out of.
  • Oops, forgot one, it’s the ‘driving against traffic’ shot.
  • Making it to Hamilton’s house, they find *gasp* that the kids have gone to get Grandma! Who knew?
  • Here comes that greedy helicopter pilot, offering to fly people out through the extremely heavy falling ash for $15,000 a head, in cash. Exactly why anyone would be carrying this ample sum around is left unexplained. (Remember that the eruption came out of nowhere.) It’s like the plethora of trunks the passengers brought on that three-hour tour in Gilligan’s Island.
  • Concerned Boss, seeing the helicopter lift off: “If he gets any of that ash sucked up into his engine, he’s had it!” (Three guesses what happens next.) Apparently this is the sort of universe where a seismologist knows that the ash-in-the-engine thing is bad, but a professional helicopter pilot doesn’t.
  • Did you know that it’s OK to be driving directly in front of a crashing helicopter? It’s true. Because when a helicopter smashes nose first into the ground, it’ll bounce back up into the air, fly over your vehicle, re-land and then explode in a big fireball.
  • When driving through a heavy sheet of volcanic ash, you will barely be able to see three feet in front of you, but can clearly see the road becoming blocked by debris in the distance behind you.
  • When a volcano starts to erupt, dedicated seismologists will station themselves directly in the imminent zone of destruction and not attempt to flee until the very last second. This, apparently, is standard procedure, given what occurred in the beginning of the picture.
  • When the Boss orders his subordinates to flee, inspirational music swells and they refuse to go. Gee, that’s original.
  • Brosnan tries to get the others to leave while speaking to them over their walkie-talkies. His gives out, and one of them theorizes that his batteries have gone dead. This means that Brosnan, the one guy certain that an eruption was imminent, not only failed to check vital equipment, but didn’t even bother to store obvious supplies like extra batteries in his truck. Smart guy.
  • Grandma’s dog has run off into the woods, but of course we’ll see it again later. A mass market film like this can’t even imply the death of a dog, even if it’s off-screen.
  • Fun facts: Humans can outrun tons of molten lava rolling downhill, and get quite close to rivers of the stuff without suffering ill effect. Apparently lava must touch you to do you harm. This, uh, novel theory will be confirmed numerous times in Volcano.
  • OK, there’s this whole scene here that really doesn’t work at all, and in a number of different respects. Their truck destroyed, Brosnan, Hamilton, Grandma and the kids escape the lava flow by taking a boat across the lake. The boy notices that all the fish are dead and floating in the water. Then Brosnan sees that the bottom of their aluminum boat is smoking. Soon water is leaking through. The “volcanic activity,” we’re told, has turned the water into acid. The weird thing is that the floating fish were shown to be entirely intact in the same moments that the acid is eating through their metal boat.
  • Also, Hamilton isn’t exactly earning any genius points here. Upon hearing the water-into-acid thing, she looks at the dissolving bottom of the boat and puts it all together. “Acid eats metal!” she gasps. I assume that they wrote this line into the script in case we didn’t ‘get’ how the ‘acid lake’ and ‘dissolving boat’ things were connected. Well, guess what, we did, and it just makes our Heroine look like a moron to have her ‘explain’ this exotic property of acid.
  • Meanwhile, I can’t help noticing that when we look at the acidic water leaking into the boat, it seems to be filling up much, much quicker than it does when the water level is off camera. (This is like how a bomb’s digital readout slows way down whenever the camera isn’t looking at it.)
  • Soon the outboard motor’s propeller is completely, and I mean completely, dissolved away. Brosnan begins to row the boat to shore with his hand (yeah, that’ll work), ‘protected’ by his wrapping his jacket around it. The ability of Brosnan to move this water-laden boat holding five people through the water by paddling with one hand is truly impressive.
  • Eventually Grandma jumps into the acidic water and tows the boat the last few yards to the shore. See, she had to die because
  1. She’s the reason the heroes and the kids are in danger.
  2. This is the script’s designated ‘tragic’ death. Every disaster movie needs one, you know. It’s a union rule.
  • Oddly, her immersion results in (eventually) fatal burns, even though Brosnan paddled away for some time without sustaining any burns whatsoever. So here’s a helpful survival hint: When sticking your body into highly corrosive liquids, a wrapped jacket supplies better protection than a pair of jeans.
  • In an unintentional comic highlight, Grandma leaves the boat at the end of a dock and continues screaming and wading through the water until she reaches shore. This despite the fact that she could have saved herself much agony by just clambering onto the pier.
  • Meanwhile, while she has sustained wounds that will eventually prove fatal, her clothes remain largely intact. So the lesson is, I guess, that acid quickly eats through metal and flesh (well, human flesh, not fish flesh), but has a lot more problem with cloth.
  • Cut to morning. We’re back in town, which is covered in ash. The National Guard is arriving. We still have a half hour left, and the town is still standing, so I’d guess the big fireworks are still to come. Meanwhile, I can’t help noticing that they never resolved the ‘Evil Capitalist’ thing. Last seen, he was selfishly preparing to leave town, leading me to expect a big ‘that’ll serve him’ death scene. Unless he was supposed to be in the helicopter that crashed – the interior shots before the crash were so poorly blocked that you couldn’t really see who was in it. On the other hand, I don’t know who else would have had the $15,000 in cash that the pilot was demanding. Actually, come to think of it, I’m not sure why EC would have it either. Do rich people generally carry around tens of thousands of dollars worth of mad money? Anyway, it’s obvious that he was a bigger character at some point, but if they decided to cut him down this much, why did they even keep him in the movie? He didn’t serve any plot function.
  • Back in the woods, Grandma is finally kicking the bucket. Unfortunately for us, she proves tougher than Richard Harris in Tarzan the Ape Man. Well, OK, maybe not that tough. In any case, she does have time for a tearful and long-winded deathbed rapprochement with Hamilton before kicking off. This is all as nauseatingly and artificially maudlin as you’d expect, and the unabashed milking of the crying children doesn’t help any. People, have you no shame?
  • Next on the menu is a flood, the result of snow on nearby mountaintops finally (?) starting to melt. Unsurprisingly, the remaining exit out of town is a bridge that lies over the increasingly swollen river. Here the seismologists finally decide to get out of Dodge. As in Earthquake, the film treats us to a collapsing dam sequence and we watch as the cascade of water heads downstream. Gee, I wonder if the Boss will make it out alive, or instead die ensuring that the others escape?
  • Brosnan, Hamilton and the kids come across a truck, which Brosnan promptly hot wires. Has there ever been a group of people in a movie which didn’t contain somebody who knew how to do this?
  • Oops, the Boss is stuck on the bridge, which is in imminent danger of being swept away. (This is after he rammed the car in front of him, freeing it so that it could escape.) As the other team members watch in horror, he’s washed away. Man, I didn’t see that coming! Oh, wait. I did see that coming. Never mind.
  • Back to Brosnan and company. Having done the ‘melting boat in the acid lake’ thing, it’s now time for the ‘driving the truck over the barely crusted-over lava’ sequence. I’m telling you, this whole movie was written with a theme park ride in mind.
  • Anyone who wondered if they get mired down in the lava and spin their tires and then manage to break loose at the very last possible second, give yourself two points. (This shouldn’t be confused with the earlier sequence where Brosnan and Hamilton forded the river in his truck, and it got mired down in the river bed, and they spun their tires and then managed to break loose at the very last possible second.)
  • Yep, there’s Grandma’s missing dog, right on cue. Give me two points.
  • Finding themselves trapped on the wrong side of the river, Brosnan runs into the hotel room holding the team’s abandoned equipment. Their organization must have a pretty healthy budget, seeing that they flee at the last minute while leaving their computers and stuff behind. Still, the left-behind monitors allow Brosnan to see that the last, supery-dupery eruption is only minutes away.
  • Brosnan then grabs, that’s right, the previously established ELF unit. This he will no doubt use to signal the other seismologists as to his whereabouts.
  • OK, let’s be fair here. The big, show-shopping eruption now occurs, with the ash laden shock wave pulverizing the surrounding forest and then the town. Despite the sometimes obvious miniature work, it’s a pretty cool bit. The only silly element is the obligatory manner in which the Heroes’ truck is able to stay just ahead of the wave of destruction.
  • Eventually they drive into (duh) the previously established Abandoned Mineshaft. Here they are protected from destruction but trapped. This inevitably leads to our 47th danger sequence, wherein the mineshaft begins to collapse.
  • They head deeper into the mine. Here Brosnan realizes that he left the ELF device in the truck. After an inspirational speech (gag) he heads back to retrieve it. However, a rock slide seals him off from the others. Then a second rock fall breaks his arm. He manages to get into the truck when yet more falling rocks trap him in the vehicle. Mashed into the remaining space and with the weight of the rocks threatening to crush him (yeah, that’ll happen) he manages to start the ELF by kicking at it. This alerts the team and Brosnan is eventually rescued. Although if I’m understanding this properly, no one had noticed the blinking signal light for “a day or two.” Yeah, quite the bunch of brainiacs.
  • After all this, they have the gall to milk the fate of Hamilton and the kids, and, of course, the dog. Needless to say, they all make it out alive, to a tremendous swell of music and a big hug and a passionate live affirming *yawn* kiss between our romantic leads. And so ends Dante’s Peak, the much more intelligent of 1997’s competing volcano flicks.

On to our second feature. While I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of material I found whilst viewing Dante’s Peak, it is rather Volcano that inspired this piece. This one I saw in the theaters, and while it’s no Jabootu Special, it contained enough jaw-dropping, laugh-out-loud stupidity to stay in the back of my mind whenever article writing time came along. Again, we would probably be better served if Liz, or anyone with a firmer grasp on scientific principle (not at all my strong suit) were writing this article. Still, I’ll do my best. Rest assured, there’s undoubtedly plenty of stuff to mock here that I’m missing.

10 Things (and more) I Hate about Volcano

  • Anne Heche plays a scientist. Let me repeat: ANNE HECHE plays a SCIENTIST.
  • As with Pierce Brosnan’s dead wife/lover/whatever, lead Tommy Lee Jones is assigned a ‘humanizing’ characteristic so as to–supposedly–enhance audience empathy. (This also allows Jones to pretend that he’s playing an actual character here and not shamelessly wasting his talents for a big paycheck.) Therefore, he’s given Kelly, a *surprise* Mildly Rebellious Teenaged Daughter, to deal with.
  • Actually, it’s interesting to see how obviously the obligatory character elements of Dante’s Peak are reshuffled here. Again, points can be given this film for splitting Brosnan’s duel roles betwixt the two leads. Here Heche *snort* is the scientist and Jones performs the Action Hero heavy lifting. Jones, meanwhile, assumes many of the traits of Hamilton’s character in Dante’s Peak. He supplies, through Kelly, the obligatory Endangered Loved One Who Must be Dramatically Saved, as well as being the divorced person who learns to love again. He’s also, like Hamilton, the one with an official position of authority (see below), although his job is rather more relevant to events here than Hamilton’s mayoralty proved to be.
  • The character similarities continue. Jones, like Brosnan, is provided with a boss (or co-worker) who resists his interpretation of events, but is redeemed via a heroic death. Also like Dante’s Peak, the movie sports a wealthy white man guy is written into the script as to provide a human antagonist. And, exactly as in that film, they must have eventually realized that he served no real purpose, and cut his part down to the point where you wonder why he was even in the film.
  • However, while Heche’s presence in this film is somewhat more justified than Hamilton’s in Dante’s Peak, it does set up an all-too typical Slightly Creepy May/December Romance Situation. Jones has to be, conservatively, twenty years older than Heche, who also comes across as much too young (among other things) to be such a hotshot scientist.
  • Jones plays the head of the Office of Emergency Management for Los Angeles, where our volcano eventually erupts. An introductory crawl explains that, during emergencies, this luminary commands “all the resources of the city.” I guess this is to make Jones’ eventual taking of command ‘believable,’ although a state of emergency is never seen officially declared – which I’d assume would be necessary before the head of OEM could assume power. Not that it matters, because Jones basically just browbeats everyone into doing what he says anyway.
  • It should be noted that this is more of a traditional Disaster Movie than Dante’s Peak. Note the urban setting, allowing for much grander displays of death and destruction. Indeed, the body count in DP was surprisingly low, something which can’t be said here. Of course, it’s much more realistic to posit an exploding volcano in rural Washington state, ala Mount St. Helens, than in downtown Los Angeles, and the film took quite a beating on these grounds. Still, Volcano does provide more spectacle, which probably accounts for its somewhat larger box office.
  • As I noted in my Swarm review, you can’t really do those ‘superstar cast’ movies anymore. The talent just costs too much. Therefore we go from one actual star, Tommy Lee Jones, to then possible up ‘n comer Anne Heche, directly to such low radar co-stars as Gaby Hoffman, Don Cheadle and Keith David. In fact, the most recognizable face other than Jones and perhaps Heche is bit player John “Northern Exposure” Corbett. And that’s only because I went through the film thinking he was Noah Wyle.
  • The movie opens in pretty boring fashion. Typical Los Angeles street scenes are intercut with ‘shock’ underground lava shots. A street protest pitting White Yuppies against Working Class Latinos over a subway extension is briefly established, setting up one of the film’s more odious and laughable sub-plots. Then we cut to Jones cooking eggs for Kelly, the Disrespectful Teenage Daughter Who He Really Doesn’t Understand. Unsurprisingly, the daughter scorns eating breakfast. After all, we have to establish tension between the two, so that their eventual reconciliation is suitably ‘touching.’
  • Even more predictably, the Jones household includes the inevitable Lovable Shaggy Pooch.
  • Men, of course, are comically hopeless in the kitchen. So Jones first burns his hand on the griddle and then spills the eggs on the floor (ho ho) and orders the dog to ‘clean up’ the mess. He’s just such a guy, isn’t he? At least they didn’t do that thing where he dumps a whole box of laundry detergent into the washer and the house fills with subs. Meanwhile, this head of the Office of Emergency Management leaves the presumably red hot flying pan on the carpet, where it somehow singes neither the rug or the dog eating the eggs spilling from it.
  • Being a Disaster Movie, we have a number of *cough* characters we’ll be following. So we cut to an inner city hospital. (We know it’s inner city because they’re wheeling in a young black gunshot victim.) Here we meet Jaye, a heroic doctor who we know is Good because
  1. She’s a woman.
  2. She’s of Asian, i.e., minority descent.
  3. She works in a ‘people’s’ hospital, not some Rich White Folks’ hospital.
  • A nurse — in the middle of performing triage on the gunshot victim! — looks at Jaye’s wristwatch and asks “Is that a Rolex?” This is confirmed by another nurse, who notes “Hubby’s big on anniversaries.” This is the kind of clunky, blink-and-you-miss-it exposition that substitutes for characterization in these things. It informs us that
  1. Jaye’s married.
  2. Her’s husband’s rich.
  3. He’s shallower than his wife, because he gave her such a materialistic gift.
  4. It’s their anniversary, providing additional ‘pathos’ when the fireworks begin later.
  5. This all confirms again the saintliness of Jaye, since she obviously doesn’t have to work in The People’s Hospital, and is doing so purely out of choice.
  • You might think that I’m making much ado out of nothing here. I think not. This is the sort of transparent, silly scripting that allows some of the wealthiest and most pampered individuals in the history of our planet to pretend that they are still ‘progressive.’ And believe me, this film in particular reeks of such smugness. It should come to no one’s surprise, therefore, when Hubby turns out to be white, in accordance with the above ‘materialistic’ thing.
  • Said *cough* ‘political’ content is quickly confirmed. In the aftermath of our first Portent of Things to Come tremor, two (white) policemen arrive at a black neighborhood to investigate a fender bender. One of the involved drivers is white, and, of course, a racist, asking the officers to “drive us back to civilization.” Meanwhile, racial tensions are immediately manifested between a Proud Black Man Who’s Not Going to Take it Any More and a Racist White Cop. We’re going to see a lot of such stuff here. It’s this (along with the much more laughable handling of the volcano) that makes the film so much lamer than Dante’s Peak. Larding this two-dimensional, scolding and unreflective ‘message’ stuff onto the film’s lightweight scaffolding only serves to push it over into the unintended comedy realm. Moreover, the filmmakers’ evident conceit that, unlike Dante’s Peak, their movie is Saying Something is simultaneously laughable and deeply tiresome.
  • We cut to the construction crew of the controversial subway extension. In one of the film’s more honestly (if modestly) amusing bits, the crew is laying down bets over the soon-to-be revealed epicenter of the quake. The crew chief, meanwhile, is ‘comically’ seen chewing several pieces of nicotine gum and prominently wearing a nicotine patch behind his ear. Thus we know that he’ll play a larger part in our movie, since they wouldn’t have wasted this ‘characterization’ otherwise.
  • On to the California Institute of Geological Sciences, from which the earthquake data will be released. A Nervous Female Scientist is panicking about appearing in front of the assembled press. Then, to her vast relief, the wise-cracking Anne Heche (who plays a scientist! A scientist!) arrives to take over. This provides Heche with a minor introductory Hero Moment while also establishing her ‘fearless’ credentials. She quickly scans the info and drops the sheet to the floor — ‘hotshot’ credentials — and *ahem* masterfully begins the conference.
  • Feeling the quake, Jones goes into work, despite his daughter’s protests that he’s supposed to be on vacation. The Office of Emergency Management sports a vaguely futuristic workspace which manages to look rather more like a movie set than an actual governmental office. Jones is berated by Cheadle, his second-in-command, for coming in over such a minor affair. This (sort of) works to establish Jones as a workaholic, which presumably ended his marriage, but also shows him to be a take-charge individual. Jones and Cheadle engage in some faux “I didn’t want you taking my job” banter. However, this is all punctuated with the characters ostentatiously laughing, thus letting us know that this is merely a ‘bit’ between co-workers who respect and, yes, love each other, although in a manly platonic fashion of course.
  • We cut to the city’s MacArthur Park, where no doubt a cake will be later melting in the lava. A Public Works crew is checking out an underground gas line. The guys staying up by the truck are, meanwhile, being jocularly hassled by a (*sigh*) sassy black woman who works for the Parks department. Suddenly, yellow gas erupts from the tunnel entrance, and a hand ‘dramatically’ reaches out in agony. Thus arrives our first Obligatory Mysterious Deaths. The guy is pulled out, revealing that the others were “burned up” before passing out. At this he rolls over, showing us that while the side of his face we had seen was normal looking, the other side *gasp* has the appearance of a hot dog left on the grill too long.
  • Hearing of the deaths, Jones promptly makes the scene. His appearance annoys the head of Public Works, who just wants to gloss over the incident. Clearly, this fellow will be in the camp of Those Who Don’t Want to Hear the Truth, also notably on display in Dante’s Peak. Nicotine Patch Guy shows up (told you!) and immediately displays his irritation at seeing Public Works Guy, signaling us that he’s in the ‘Good’ camp. Jones wants NPG, who I guess runs the city’s public transportation, to temporarily stop running the subway trains in this area. NPG isn’t sure about that, meaning that he’ll be what the Boss was in Dante’s Peak: The basically good guy who Learns Too Late that the heroes were right, and thus has to redeem himself with a tragic but heroic death.
  • Cut to the hospital, where Jaye is, needless to say, working on the scalded public works guy. Life’s a rich tapestry, isn’t it? Just so we know that the Evil Public Works Chief was wrong when he said that steam caused the accident (duh), Jaye notes that “Steam doesn’t char clothing like this!” Thanks. Hey, maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t steam, but related to the volcano. You know, the one mentioned in the title! Now it’s all coming together.
  • Jones, Cheadle and Another Guy appear at the manhole where the accident occurred. Cheadle is complaining that they could get into trouble for this, as the accident as explained falls under PW jurisdiction. Jones, of course, is more interested in The Truth than Sordid Politics. (Wow!) Cheadle waits in the truck while Jones and Another Guy don yellow moon suits. As they enter the tunnel, loud ‘breathing’ noises are foleyed in and they wave flashlights whose beams cut through the mist, so that it’s as much like the ‘Finding the Mysterious Spaceship’ scene in Alien as possible.
  • Jones is in contact with Cheadle via a radio headphone. (We’re supposed to be impressed that Jones, the OEM department head, is personally risking danger instead of sending his subordinates in. See, that’s just the kind of guy he is.) Jones continues the ‘you want my job’ stuff, cruelly informing us that this will constitute a ‘running’ ‘joke.’
  • As they walk down the tunnel, rats are shown scurrying past them, rather like the birds who took flight just before the skinny dippers got it in Dante’s Peak. Animals. They always know.
  • As Our Hero Risks Death Searching for The Truth, Cheadle relays a call from the Chief of Police (?!), complaining that this is a Public Works matter (so why is the Chief of Pol…oh, never mind). Of course, Jones continues on anyway. What a guy!
  • Jones and Another Guy enter the length of tunnel past where the workers were fried. Here, a veritable forest of roots hang from the tunnel ceiling. Remember this.
  • Just in case this wasn’t enough like Alien or Aliens (I’ll say!), Another Guy holds up a beeping monitor and shouts, “We’ve got a reading here!” Where do they get their ideas?
  • Here they find a smoking fissure in the tunnel. A nearby subway train (if only they’d listened to Our Hero!) rumbles nearby, triggering a disturbance from the fissure. The ‘heat monitor’ shows increased activity, and our hero’s rubber air hoses start melting. (!!) Good thing they’re both so tough. They both start running away, and they make it through the hatchway just at the last moment in front of a burst of fire. Now, here’s where we get to the roots I mentioned. If giant fire balls are periodically cascading down this tunnel, why haven’t the profusion of roots been burned away?
  • We cut to the Le Brea Tar Pits. Here we hear a recorded spiel about the Pits given nearby, noting that “The Le Brea Tar pits are one of the LA Basin’s most active geological features.” Those who guessed that this will have direct relevance to our ‘plot’ should give themselves a gold star. Just in case we failed to ‘get’ this, though, the camera zooms in as the water in the Pits starts to boil.
  • We cut to a newly completed looking apartment building. An expository radio report (what a clever device!) names it’s developer as one Norman Caulder. Jaye arrives in order to meet with Norman, who will prove to be her Rolex-giving husband. Life’s a rich tapestry, isn’t it? As she approaches him, we note that the interiors of the building are entirely unfinished. This rather calls into question the assertion of the radio report that the building will open “this week.” (!!)
  • Her husband turns around and is revealed to be the White Yuppie who selfishly demonstrated against the subway extension for The Poor. Well, you knew a guy who would give his wife a Rolex had to be a snake. As he gloats over his building (what a White Guy!), we can only wonder if his wife will leave him because he’s insufficiently progressive; or whether the disaster will force him to consider what’s important and he’ll ‘grow,’ you know, in a social conscious sense. Either way, the fact that they introduce a spiffy new building (and designated Symbol of Hubris) in a disaster movie doesn’t exactly bode well for it’s future. Feel free to insert your own ‘Edifice Wrecks’ joke here.
  • Looking out from their soon-to-be penthouse apartment, Norman says “Here’s how I see our future.” (What a Typically Controlling White Guy!) This, needless to say, involves Jaye transferring to a Rich White Guy’s hospital. You know, it really demoralizing how much they telegraph all this stuff.
  • Just so we don’t miss the “He’s a controlling jerk” thing, he commands that he doesn’t want “my wife treating gunshot wounds.” Get it? It’s like she’s not even a person! Instead, she’s just “my wife.” What nuance! (Needless to say, we can count on Jaye not to allow him to compromise either her Personal Autonomy or her Social Conscious.) “Finished?” she asks. As the camera cuts to a full shot of the building; again, the Very Symbol of His Hubris (I don’t want you to miss that part), he answers. “Hardly. This is only the beginning.” OK, this guy’s toast.
  • Now *groan* for some character stuff. See, it’s important that we ‘care’ about our characters, so that we really fear for them when they’re in ‘danger.’ So we cut to Jones’ daughter and his neighbor, who is babysitting her. The daughter listens to rock music, the neighbor does yoga. (Ha! Those Californians, eh?) They’re the original Odd Couple! Jones checks in via the phone and sighs over his daughter’s wish for a *snort, giggle* nose ring. Why, he’d rather go to Disney World! They’re the original Odd Couple! Then Jones gets a hectoring call from his ex-wife over his going to work. Doesn’t she understand that a Man’s gotta do what a Man’s gotta do? You know, it worked, though. I kid, but now I find myself deeply caring about Jones and his daughter. I hope they make it through the movie alive and reconcile. Really! I do!
  • Enter Anne Heche — playing a scientist! — arguing with Nicotine Patch Guy. Only Jones, I think we can safely assume, will honor her Feminine Strength and Instincts. (Men, like Brosnan in Dante’s Peak, rely on their ‘gut.’ Women, in contrast, use intuition. Please keep that straight.) NPG introduces her sarcastically, putting her title (Dr.) in those verbal parentheses. Yep, he’s toast. Jones asks if they could save their fight for later. “Yeah, sure,” Heche says, looking at her watch. “2:00 okay?” What a spitfire! Why, she doesn’t take guff from anybody! Jones, meanwhile, breaks up at this display of her rapier wit, suggesting that he doesn’t get out much.
  • Proving again that he’s this movie’s analog for Dante’s Peak‘s Boss, NPG refuses to shut down subway service because, get this, he wants ‘evidence’ that’s something going on. When he asks if they have any of this so-called ‘evidence,’ our leads can only shake their heads in derision. When will they learn? When both the Hero and Heroine of a movie want you to do something, Buster, you’d better do it!
  • I don’t want to beat this to death, but did you ever notice that when a scientist is the lead character in a film, they’re usually exhorting others to ignore or stop seeking scientific proof? Invariably, they demand that others respect their intuitions, even if (especially if) they’re done this before and been proven wrong. Meanwhile, if you’re the antagonist, you can have all the proof in the world on your side, and the film will still treat you like a fool or a villain for ignoring and/or opposing the heroes.
  • Heche, along with Jones and the previously established Nervous Female Scientist, go to MacArthur Park to see what’s going on. NFS now seems to be functioning as Heche’s sidekick, and I think we all know what that means. Heche notes that the park’s lake has heated six degrees in twelve hours, which would require a “geological event.” Jones asks what this means, allowing for some exposition about tectonic plates and basic earthquake theory, as if the audience cares. You know, even if people don’t know why volcanoes and earthquakes occur, they know they happen. Therefore, this exposition is useless, and amounts to the screenwriter showing off the extensive knowledge he gleaned from looking up various geological terms in the World Book Encyclopedia.
  • Now comes my absolute favorite line in the movie, and one of the best ever. Jones, head of the Office of Emergency Management in the second largest city in the country…and the most earthquake prone…listens to Heche’s basic Earth science lecture. Confused by her jargon, he asks her to explain what ‘magma’ is. (!!!) Aside from the fact that any fifth grader would have at least a vague idea what magma is, again, this is the guy who deals with emergencies for the city of Los Angeles! Wouldn’t that require some knowledge of how the Earth works, especially given the plethora of earthquakes there? (Not to mention even the most elementary grasp of science.) I don’t think anyone who ever saw this movie failed to laugh out loud when he asked this.
  • Jones heads off, but not before ordering Heche and company to stay out of the tunnel, because it’s so dangerous. Needless to say, Heche and Nervous Female Scientist, now obviously graduating to full Red Shirt status, will go down anyway. We know that NFS will prove a Red Shirt because her death will
  1. provide our first full-fledged ‘Tragic Victim’ and
  2. make Heche pay a price for ignoring Jones.
  • This would no doubt drive Liz up the wall, since Heche is doing exactly what Jones did early, i.e., ignoring orders and going into the tunnel. (Note that Jones’ seemingly expendable sidekick didn’t die.) Also, why did Jones call in experts if he’s not going to let them do anything but theorize from woefully incomplete data? Of course, Heche has already corrected posited the ‘lava’ thing from this spotty datum, but that’s what Heroes and Heroines do.
  • First, though, they have NFS/Red Shirt explicitly mention Jones and Heche’s mutual attraction, in case we somehow failed to just assume that film’s Hero and Heroine would end up together.
  • Cut to early the next morning, as we watch a first batch of workers get on a subway train. (Uh oh!) Meanwhile, per their plan, Heche and Red Shirt have snuck into the tunnel, coming early so as to avoid the cops. Here we get another ‘moon suits and flashlights’ scene. Heche pauses to examine her failing flashlight (nobody ever checks their batteries in movies) while Red Shirt continues on to find the fissure, which she, I swear, straddles. Now, I don’t want to telegraph anything, but we just saw the subway train begin its route, and earlier a passing train triggered the fireball that chased Jones out of the tunnel. So you don’t exactly have to be Einstein to see where this is going.
  • Oops, I guess they thought the subway thing was too subtle. We cut out to the desert and see some birds fly suddenly fly off from some hardscrabble bush. (They always know.) And, yes, then the ground starts to shake real good. This is our first real ‘disaster’ scene, albeit a minor one. We see the city’s power go out. An awakening Jones grabs his daughter and they stand under a doorway. Furniture falls in Norman and Jaye’s bedroom. Rubble blocks and assaults the subway train. And, of course, the fissure goes ‘whoosh’ and there goes Red Shirt. Oh, the Humanity.
  • We cut to Jones’ car. He’s driving into work and phoning Cheadle for an update. Per movie tradition, when Jones is done talking on the phone, he hangs up without saying anything. Both parties magically know that the conversation has come to an end.
  • Actually, and don’t ask me why, but Jones merely (apparently) put his car phone on speaker mode. Because even though Jones doesn’t say anything after putting the phone down, and acts like the call is over, when the manhole covers in the street explode upward all around him, Cheadle can hear the noise on the receiver.
  • Jones just happens to drive past the Le Brea Tar Pits, where the actual eruption is starting to take place. Big hunks of lava start flying around, exploding on impact and setting huge fires. (See the ‘goofs’ section on this film entry in the Internet Movie Database for info on why this and other phenomena in the film are scientifically invalid.)
  • Here we see Heche finally making it out of the tunnel, allowing her a short and not-terribly-affecting “Oh, woe, my friend is dead!” scene. Oscar clip!
  • Back at Subway Central, Nicotine Patch Guy learns of the stranded train and orders a team get ready to go down there. Then he reaches for a cigarette and lights up. Now, this ‘I sure picked the wrong day to give up cigarettes’ schtick had already been famously parodied to death in Airplane!, made seventeen years before Volcano. Nor is there any indication that this is a winking reference to that movie. Here’s a clue to future makers of disaster pictures: Study Airplane! (and The Big Bus, while you’re at it) and avoid those clichés that it already mocked.
  • Meanwhile, on the subway train, the passengers are trapped and the temperature is rising do to proximity to the MacArthur Park fissure. The doors won’t open because, as we’re shown, the hydraulic lines are cut. Don’t they have a manual system to get the doors open? An emergency door or window or hatch? Something?
  • We cut to Jaye driving through the heavy ash (I’ve sure seen a lot of this stuff lately). Now, readers might remember me laughing about when actors react unrealistically to effects that were later superimposed onto the screen. This isn’t really the actors’ fault, since they don’t actually ‘see’ what they are reacting to. For instance, in The Swarm, Michael Caine cries “Look!” and points to the sky. When we cut there, we see that the sky is blotted out by a massive swarm of bees. This doesn’t strike one as the sort of thing one has to point at. Here’s a similar bit. Jaye is driving along. Soon we are shown a gigantic, brightly lit pillar of ash and lava shooting way up into the sky. This is a massive thing. Yet Jaye doesn’t ‘see’ and react to it until well after she would have. Imagine a Godzilla movie where someone didn’t see him until they were about twenty feet away. This is the director and editor’s fault and looks really goofy. Moreover, this will happen again later.
  • Cut back to Heche, still ‘dramatically’ mourning. Hilariously, she is framed in the searchlight beam of a helicopter that for no reason is hovering above her. She then notices the fall of ash and spots a monstrous tower of ash from what must be miles away. Again, though, Jaye didn’t see this until she was maybe a block away from it.
  • Driving around, Jones sees Jaye attending to the victim of a lava bomb and jumps out to help. Life’s a rich tapestry, isn’t it?
  • This bit, with people running around trying to help, is one of the film’s genuine highlights, culminating in a nice bit (although, again, too obviously telegraphed) where all the noise of the eruption abruptly ceases. This proves the calm before the storm in more ways than one, however, as the actual eruption of a gigantic creeping flow of lava now begins. It’s here that the movie loses whatever credibility it’s enjoyed up to now.
  • For instance, as when Jaye didn’t see the ash tower, a post-production effect of a huge tower of lava is shown fountaining up from the La Brea Tar Pits. The effect is ruined, however, by the fact that, in the foreground and roughly ten yards from the gigantic geyser of molten rock, we watch numerous cars driving along down the road. The idea that you would drive anywhere near this thing is noticeably insane.
  • I also like when the windows of a tower explode outward, showering Jones and Jaye with glass shards. Now, even if this was safety glass, given the acceleration it’s been given by the explosion (or merely from gravity as it falls from the upper floors) it should slice them to bits. However, the characters appear entirely unscathed. Kids: Don’t try this at home!
  • As lava flows from the Pits, a reporter vainly tries to explain the phenomena without using the terms ‘lava’ or ‘volcano.’ It’s like that board game where you try to depict something without using the provided list of descriptive words. “It’s coming right up out of the ground itself,” he notes in a bewildered fashion, although he doesn’t explain exactly where else it would come from. “It’s like the tar caught fire and melted and somehow expanded,” he continues, as a small river of molten rock gushes forth into the street. Since the flow of lava looks exactly like a, well, flow of lava, we can’t quite understand why he’s having this much trouble describing the scene. Finally, though, he gets it. “It almost looks like lava,” he exclaims. Give that man a cigar.
  • One reason the film falls apart here is that, much more than in Dante’s Peak, it utterly ignores the amount of heat that would emanate from literally millions of gallons of molten lava. People are continuously shown standing on the very edge of a literal lake of the stuff without ill effect, while objects don’t catch fire unless they are actually enveloped. This is a constant of the film from here on, and never ceases to destroy our suspension of disbelief.
  • Jones’ daughter, caught between the oncoming river of lava and a fallen lava bomb, can only stand and yell and wait for Daddy to come get her. Now, I mean, I understand panic, but come on. She had plenty of time to escape from her position, especially given the bizarre thermal dynamics of this batch of lava. This is emphasized when the lava bomb spurts a hunk of actual lava that flies right onto her, which then only serves to set fire to her pants!
  • Here’s another example. By the time the pants are put out, Jones and daughter are mere feet away from a river (there’s no other word) of lava, yet are unaffected when they should literally be bursting into flames. One wonders how the actors felt when they saw the completed film and witnessed how stupid all this looked.
  • In an extremely gross bit, a fireman trapped in his crashed truck is immolated by the advancing lava flow, as is a guy trying to save him. I know that you expect to see some audience pleasing death scenes in a disaster movie, but yuck! I think I’ll stick with other kinds of disasters from now on. Also, I don’t know if the toy fireman we see mounted on the truck and exploding into flames is meant to be satirical or instead symbolic, but it’s tasteless either way.
  • Has there ever been a Urban Disaster Movie that didn’t include a close-up shot of a truck baring a “flammable propane” legend. Well, this isn’t it. Boom!
  • One mark of a bad movie is when they blow a bit that is almost impossible to blow. Jones sends his daughter off with Jaye to the hospital, as either the lava that spurted on her leg or the resultant pants fire has caused a small second-degree burn. Scared, she wants to stay with her father. When he explains that overseeing the disaster scene is his responsibility, she tearfully cries “So am I!” Although the remark strikes home, he sends them off. Because Jones and the girl actually act here, it’s a touching bit. However, the camera cuts between Jones and his hysterical daughter for much too long of a time, while overly manipulative music swells up on the soundtrack. The film’s director, Mick Jackson (who took a “A Mick Jackson Film” credit for this crap) refuses to credit his audience with any intelligence or sensitivity, and beats us over the head with every point he’s trying to make.
  • We cut know to a river of lava several blocks long. At OEM, a voice in the background continues one of the weirder bits here by staring at the televised flow of molten rock and asking, “What the hell is that?” Then a broadcaster finally puts it all together. “What can only be described as lava is now snaking it’s way down Stanley Avenue,” she notes. Someone get that woman a Pulitzer.
  • Others are still confused. In the black neighborhood introduced in the car crash scene earlier, a reporter is heard to say, “Something fiery is heading down the street!” What the hell kind of moronic universe is this, anyway?
  • Meanwhile, and you knew it had to happen, a woman (with flaming people and burning houses and falling lava bombs all around her) shouts in horror, “My dog is [trapped] in there!” Unsurprisingly, this is milked for a good long while, as the dog gets within inches of the humongous flow of lava so as to bark at it before finally running out a rear doggy door. Whew. That was…too close. Cue triumphant swell of music as the dog escapes. And no, I’m not kidding.
  • Jones tries to convince some guys (including the racist cop from earlier) to help him use a bus to block and channel the lava flow, which he describes, and I’m again not kidding, as “whatever this is.” Heche, having made the scene, fills him in. “Lava!” she explains. Again, everyone has to see this to fully understand how stupid this continued bit is. How anyone can possibly fail to identify molten lava is beyond me. Meanwhile, why would the bus block the mystery substance anyway? We’ve already seen several vehicles, including a fire truck, almost instantly melt away once touched by this bizarre, enigmatic material.
  • As heroic music swells (I swear, I’m going to kill the music editor for this thing) a bunch of guys and Heche manually push the bus in front of the unearthly flaming-and-expanding-tar-like stuff. Heche, meanwhile, having in fact identified the material as “la-va,” or something, tells Jones he must evacuate the West Side of Los Angeles. (He needed her to tell him this?) This represents a “million people,” Jones complains. If he doesn’t evacuate them, she states, they’ll be a “million dead or homeless people.” Which leads me to wonder how evacuation would keep you from becoming ‘homeless’ as a result of a massive flow of ‘la-va.’
  • While helping a collapsed fellow, Jones and Heche are trapped between the flow of lava, the bus (which now being in place appears serve no rational function at all, other than to trap our leads for ‘suspense’ purposes) and a flaming tree. Take my word for it. Jones yells for a fireman to swing the fire truck ladder over the wall of flame so as to provide a means of escape. Proving as dumb as everyone else in the picture, Heche, seeing him guide in the ladder, yells “What are you going to do?” Yeah, it’s a mystery, alright.
  • OK, I want you to picture this. The ladder lowers, and comatose guy is laid along the top of the horizontal rungs. Jones calls for it to be raised, and he and Heche grab hold and are raised up literally a second before being engulfed by the flow of lava. Then, they hold on as the ladder, suspending them maybe six feet above the lake of molten rock, starts slowly to swing them to safety. Now, I have to tell you, I think that human beings would burst into flame under these conditions. But let’s ignore that. Imagine hanging onto a ladder while directly over a vast surface of lava. Do you think maybe your hands would get sweaty and you’d fall to your death? (Have I mentioned that both Jones and Heche are still wearing jackets?) The worst that happens is that their boots start to smoke and (get this!) the fire hose over their heads, laying along the ladder, bursts into flames! Uh, aren’t those flame retardant? Needless to say, they just make it, and resume dealing with the situation. Although they still don’t take their jackets off.
  • Cut back to the stranded subway train. The temperature is stifling and they still can’t get well-designed doors open. (Does OSHA know about this?) Looking out the rear window, the driver sees some weird hot glowing stuffing coming down the tunnel.
  • Back above ground, the bus is diverting the lava as planned. (Why isn’t the bus melting? IITS.) However, since the lava is flowing around the bus, wouldn’t it just spread back once it’s past? Am I missing something here? And could they explain why exactly they are supposedly diverting the lava, since there doesn’t seem to be any real purpose in having the lava come down two-thirds of the street instead of the entire street?
  • Jones turns his back on the lava and yaks on the phone, until Heche points out the the gigantic wave of lava is now only about maybe ten feet behind him. Even then he doesn’t move away until it’s more like two or three feet away from him. Did anyone involved in the process of making this film understand the idea of how heat radiates? That lava doesn’t magically contain its heat, releasing it only on things it touches? Because you wouldn’t know it from watching the movie.
  • When Cheadle learns that Jones’ daughter is heading to the hospital, he promises Jones that she’ll get a suite. Uh, yeah. A hospital suite. For an apparently minor leg injury. During a citywide disaster endangering millions, and in the hospital that all the volcano-related victims are being evacuated to. Sure.
  • Heche has to point out to Jones that the lava is just oozing around the bus, which is still weirdly exant, and spreading back out again. (“This is very determined stuff, she notes.) I’m not sure why she must do this, as this is occurring maybe ten yards away from him and in full sight.
  • The same black guy who tussled with the racist cop runs up and demands that the fire department (which would seem to have its hands full) send trucks to his neighborhood. Of course, Racist Cop is there too (Life’s a rich tapestry) and they again argue. Don’t worry, this is all leading to a big payoff.
  • Hilariously, Racist Cop handcuffs the guy (although, technically, he has cause, as the black guy’s actions in grabbing the fire chief would constitute assault), because jerks in movies are usually unbelievable morons as well. Is it remotely possible that even a real dyed-in-the-wool racist would arrest a guy in the middle of this gigantic, city-threatening disaster? Maybe, but it’s sure not playing that way on the screen. Meanwhile, why are he and his partner the only cops on the scene? Wouldn’t some higher official see this guy screwing around and ream him out?
  • Nicotine Patch Guy and crew find the subway train just in the nick of time. With the lave flowing just on the other side of it, they break open the door and evacuate the passengers, who have all passed out. Soon only the driver and NPG are left in the train as the lava flows along under the train. (One guy seeing it inevitably remarks, “What the hell is that?”) After grabbing the unconscious man, NPG slowly plods down the length of the train to the door. The floor is so hot that this sneakers are melting, and the entire train is aflame around him and molten metal is cascading down from the ceiling (which means that he’s breathing in lethally superheated gasses, but let’s ignore that). Finally he makes it to the escape door, only to find that the lava is now surrounding the car. This is the film’s grossest bit, and would be truly offensive if it weren’t at the same time one of the most ridiculous things ever committed to celluloid. I thought that NPG would heave the driver to the crew beyond the lava, and then perish. This, I guess, wasn’t dramatic enough. Instead, NPG leaps from the doorway into the lava, maneuvers the driver over his head (they don’t really show this as it clearly would be impossible) and tosses him to safety as he melts away like the Wicked Witch of the West. Now I don’t believe, even were you to somehow avoid dying of shock upon hitting the lava (which would be a pretty good jolt to the old system, I’d think), that you could maintain the proper balance and leverage needed to lift a man over your head and then toss him, what with your legs being eaten out from under you by molten lava.
  • Did I mention that this scene is really, really gross?
  • Luckily, a black cop shows up and orders Racist Cop to stay around and help rather than running in his prisoner. Just in case you were wondering. (Can you imagine what would have happened to this guy when it came out that he left the disaster scene to haul in a prisoner on a minor complaint?)
  • As we look down the long, straight street that for blocks back is full of bright, glowing lava, a reporter suddenly announces, “Now you can see it.” Huh?
  • As concrete construction barricades arrive, Jones formulates a plan to build a wall to contain the lava. Heche, meanwhile, suggests dumping water on the trapped lava to form a crust, which will help in damming it up. (More on this later.) The plan goes forward, with, as someone noted on the Internet Movie Database goofs list, the semi-circle barrier being built the wrong way. The semi-circle wall is facing out from the lava instead of bending in towards it. Ever notice how dams curve in towards the water? The same principle should apply here. Also, I can’t help noticing that the assembled barricade units have quite evident gaps between them. Oddly, not even a small amount of lava will ooze through these crevasses.
  • Again here, if you at all pay attention to where we last saw the lava and how quickly it was moving, it would have engulfed the characters as Jones explained his plan. Fortunately for them, if not for us, the lava only moves when the camera is upon it. In fact, if I were Jones, I’d just smash all the movie cameras and freeze the lava in its tracks.
  • Good White Cop frees Black Guy Who Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore from Racists Cop’s handcuffs and tells him to go home. (Yes, we’re to believe that this guy was cuffed during all this.) This occurs right after GWC and RC and some others fail to lift their concrete segment of the dam. Three guesses what happens next. If you guessed BGWAGTIA (who just happens to be a very big dude) joins the effort to build the dam, give yourself a point. If you guess that he ends up shoulder to shoulder with RC while doing so, and that then RC glances over with what just might be burgeoning respect, you’re ready to write scripts for Hollywood. Need I add “Cue dramatic swell of music”?
  • If you guessed that Kelly would be put in charge of watching over a slew of scared but extremely cute tykes, and thus learn a little something about responsibility while also gaining new insight into why her father does what he does, then you should be hunted down and slain before you also can inflict more drivel like this upon the rest of us.
  • Heche notes that there’s a lot of lava, and informs Jones that, “There’s got to be something feeding this! From below, a source!” Yeah, thanks for the update.
  • Hmm, a refugee center at the local Hard Rock Cafe. Sly wink at a popular location in the city or naked product placement? You decide!
  • Here’s a scene: Kelly distracts the kids with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. A boy holding his hand out straight and going ‘sssss’ protests that he’s not paper, he’s lava. “What beats lava?” he innocently asks. (From the mouths of babes, huh?) “My dad…I hope,” Kelly wistfully replies.
  • With the dam in place and reinforced by fire trucks, Jones gives the order to let the lava pool before throwing water on it. This basically collects a lake of molten rock five or six feet deep, literally tens of millions of gallons of lava. As this collects (and, again, fails to leak through the evident gaps in the wall), guys stand directly on the other side of the barrier. Admittedly, they’re wearing fire suits (most of them), but just imagine the amount of heat that would be generated here. Imagine being in an active volcano, and standing literally three feet away from the main pool of lava. That’s pretty much what we’re talking about.
  • OK, when one reporter notes that the “weight of this lava must be absolutely intense,” uh, I assume he was supposed to say, ‘immense.’ Right? Right? (Actually, probably not; the subtitles also say ‘intense’ and they usually work off the script for those.) Said reporters, by the way, are all shown directly on the other side of the wall containing the lava, and all are bereft of heat resistant clothing but are wearing jackets (!). One seems to be actually laying his hand on the wall. Doesn’t concrete conduct heat? Am I totally wrong about this?
  • OK, this has always bothered me, so if I’m wrong, will somebody please let me know? The firemen congregate just off the wall as dozens of those fire-fighting helicopters fly over. As the ‘copters drop their massive payloads of water, the assembled firemen open up with dozens of hoses, all while standing more or less directly along the block long and six-foot deep reservoir of molten lava. Now, I’d really have to assume that all this water hitting all this lava would result in a gigantic explosion of steam that would parboil everyone in the immediate area, protective fire gear or no. Am I mistaken in this?
  • The same reporter that misused the word “intense” describes the area as “drenched.” ‘Drenched,’ as far as I know, means ‘saturated with water.’ Since the still-hot lava would have burned off the water, it could hardly be ‘saturated.’ Given his inept command of the King’s English, how did this guy get to be a reporter?
  • OK, I was just thinking of some TV reporters I’ve seen, and I withdraw the question.
  • Heche goes down into the subway tunnels to find the mysterious source of the lava. Finding a collapsed section of the tunnel, she takes a thermometer with a wand attachment and sinks the extension into the rubble and dirt, maybe four or five inches deep. The register quickly reads 650° Fahrenheit. Wouldn’t she be able to tell that the rubble was ‘hot’ without sticking a wand into it? After all, she is a scientist.
  • As dawn arrives, the lava appears safely dammed. (However, since we still have half an hour of movie left…) This celebratory scene allows us a quiet moment when Racist Cop and Black Guy Etc. lay aside their differences and for the first time *yawn* look at each other just as human beings. Yep, racial rapprochement is just that easy. Gee, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Like when you have the flu.
  • As Jaye battles valiantly to tend to the myriad wounded, Norman hectors her on the phone, ordering her to get to safety. He also worries about what “those people” might be coughing up on her. Man, what a yuppie bastard, eh? Jaye: Brave, Selfless Asian Woman. Norman: Possessive, Selfish White Man. Are we clear on this yet? Because the filmmakers are apparently really, really concerned that this all comes across to the audience.
  • By the way, how did this woman ever marry such an evidently racist and sexist jerk? Didn’t they think about how stupid that was?
  • I know this is a question for another (better) movie, but couldn’t Norman’s concern for his wife be portrayed with a bit more compassion? Couldn’t he just be weak and fallible instead of being this colossal and monolithic asshole? Is it really necessary to so strictly group everybody into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories?
  • Heche contacts Jones to alert him that their problems (duh) aren’t over. In order to make him listen, she notes that the Mount St. Helen’s eruption generated forces 27,000 times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Jones admits that nowhere near that amount of energy has yet been released here, and is convinced. (Although I’m not strictly sure what relevance that statistic has on the situation at hand.) Needless to say, this factoid won’t be quoted again, because if the volcano in this movie were to generate a blast equaling, say, one Hiroshima blast, pretty much the entire city would be destroyed and all our characters would be dead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Heche and Jones (who’s just wandering around the city without anyone in the press or the city bureaucracy bugging him; think about how unlikely that is) are investigating a street grate elsewhere in the city, per her worries about further volcanic activity. Seeing steam erupting up the manhole, Heche tells Jones to lower her down into the passage on a rope. (!!) He wisely demurs, and since she’s too small to lower him down, they come up with an alternate plan: Lower a video camera. Given all that’s occurred so far, including the flash frying of Heche’s assistant earlier, don’t you think that would have been their first thought?
  • Heche, as she lowers the camera: “Oh, God, this is so stupid. This city’s finally paying for it’s arrogance.” You didn’t think we’d get out of here without being force fed an Important Environmental Message, did you?
  • Wait, so…the volcano is only threatening the city because they built all these subway tunnels. Huh? Could you run through that again? I mean, if the city collapsed after an earthquake because of the tunnels undermining everything, that would be one thing, but…huh? What would that have to do with a volcano? Earlier Heche explained about these Tu-ton-ic Plate things. Were these affected by subway construction?
  • Did you guess that the view from the lowered camera would look clear to one side, but then when they turned it to look the other way, a sudden flood of lava would just at that moment burst onto the scene and eat it? You did? Oh.
  • So the idea is that the tunnel is insulating the lava and keeping it fluid and moving, but that when it hits an obstruction, it’ll erupt again. It turns out that the tunnel ends under Cedars Sinai Hospital, right where *gasp* Jaye and Kelly are. (Gee, and isn’t it ironic that this was the ‘safe’ hospital that Norman wanted his wife to work at? That guy just can’t catch a break.)
  • Heche computes that the lava will hit there and erupt in perhaps 30 minutes. OK, if this stuff has this gigantic amount of pressure behind it (remember the comparison to the Hiroshima bomb) how could it possibly take a half hour to move across town? Wouldn’t it be traveling at bullet speed?
  • Moreover, Heche notes that the lava might be slowed down if any of the tunnel has collapsed. But, the entire scene here is predicated on the idea that once the lava is obstructed, another eruption will occur. So, if the tunnel is collapsed anywhere, even partially, wouldn’t that just cause the lava to break through at that point?
  • Here Jones utilizes his backup plan from the lava dam scene, which was to try to divert the lava someplace safe if it couldn’t be contained. Demolition teams are thus sent to intersect the route of the lava (there’s not enough time or manpower to evacuate Cedars Sinai) and create a trench that will redirect the flow towards Ballona Creek, which feeds into the ocean.
  • However, Heche points out that since the street slopes the wrong way, the lava won’t enter the trench. Jones wearily admits defeat. (And since he’s the hero, if he doesn’t think of a solution, it’s all over.) Then he has a light bulb moment. If a building is first dropped across the street, it’ll act as a dam and force the lava into the trench and into the creek and into the ocean. But what building will do…hey! There’s Norman’s Hubris Towers, handily right on the scene!! Life’s a rich tapestry.
  • Oh, did I mention that this all represents an almost impossible RACE AGAINST TIME?
  • Uh-oh! One of Kelly’s adorable charges has scampered. I hope that pursuing the tyke doesn’t put her IN HARM’S WAY!
  • As Kelly’s quest takes her through the kitchen of the Hard Rock Cafe (?), a megaphoned voice is heard: “We are abandoning the Hard Rock!” Given the corporation’s recent financial woes, this seems rather prescient.
  • Hey, didn’t we already see that same lava shot?
  • Norman shows up at the triage center to further nag Jaye. Of course, she stays, and of course, he flees in cowardly fashion. (Are we supposed to care? This guy, by my count, had just over one minute of actual screen time!) Now that they’ve established for the nth time his ‘jerk’ credentials, we in the audience can take our supposedly great *yawn* satisfaction in seeing the Very Symbol of His Ambition dramatically destroyed. Or something like that.
  • Uh, shouldn’t that tremendous geyser of lava be setting afire that building it’s right next to?
  • Wow, who would have thought that Kelly and little Tommy would end up right in the middle of that series of detonations meant to form the lava trench? Or that her father would be the only one to see them? What’re the odds against that? Three to one at least, I’d bet.
  • With the paralyzed-with-fear young ‘uns trapped between the explosions, the tremendous pillar of jetting lava, and the collapsing Symbol of Norman’s Hubris (what, no killer bears?), we are ‘treated’ to a ‘cool’ bit of Jones desperately running–in slow motion, natch–in a race against time to save the person he loves most in the world!
  • He wins, by the way, leaping to knock his daughter aside just before the toppling bluescreen effect, er, building crushes her. I’m not exactly sure why flying rubble doesn’t decapitate them anyway, but there you go.
  • Wait, is Heche, standing on that truck in the distance, supposed to be able to identity that tiny dot in the distance as Jones?! Superman should have such vision.
  • Hmm, funny how with all those people desperately searching the rubble for sign of Jones and the kids, that it should be Heche who spots them first. (Cue big swell of music.)
  • Hey, that’s funny. Kelly’s been sporting a (somewhat inconsistent) big bruise on her left cheek for much of the last hour. Yet now it’s gone. Must be that “Buried in Rubble Cure” we’ve all heard so much about.
  • Hilariously, a news report numbers the death toll of all this at “almost a hundred.” Yeah, I’m buying that.
  • OK, if you haven’t thrown up from the film’s saccharine racial ‘message’ prior to this, you better get your vomit bag out. As a big black cop carries blond little Tommy around, he asks Tommy what his mother looks like. The exaggeratedly cute waif looks around at the crowds of bystanders, all of whom are covered with volcanic ash. “Look at their faces,” the wide-eyed innocent portentously proclaims. “They all look that same.” Somehow the congregated extras all seem to hear his wee voice and look at each other with eyes opened for the first time and realize, hey, the kid’s right. We’re not so different after all! And so ended all racial conflict in the city of Los Angeles and maybe, just maybe, wherever audiences saw this movie.
  • In case you were wondering, yes, that Public Service Commercial where everyone likes each other until the bags over their heads blow away and reveal them to be different colors worked much better.
  • Then, just in case the movie weren’t clichè enough, we end with a rain storm that oh-so-subtly signals a symbolic rebirth. (It also cleans off the main characters so that they can have their final scenes without being coated in ash.) Jones and Heche congratulate themselves on how great they were and hug. Hey, I think they’ve fallen in love!
  • OK, they can even be more clichè than I thought. The film ends with Cheadle showing up with–I swear!–Max, Jones’ big fluffy dog. (Where the heck did he manage to dig up their dog?!) Awwww!! Somebody must have liked this bit, because it’s recreated in Steven Seagal’s The Patriot with his daughter’s pony being mysteriously brought into town for that film’s climatic parade.
  • chrissy

    wow this has been up for 7 and a half years and no-one’s commented on it?
    I have just read the whole thing – very funny and entertaining

  • Actually, we moved the site (from Jabootu.com) about a year ago, and only then had a comment feature. So most of the old articles don’t have comments, I’d imagine, and won’t until new readers like yourself stumble across them.

    Glad you liked it.

  • amanda

    Although I loved Dante’s Peak (it’s obligatory disaster-plot cliches notwithstanding–and I never realized just how obvious they should have been! :(), I positively loathed Volcano, not only because of it’s geological impossibility, but also because the inane characters drove me beserk (which you did a great job of dissecting, by the way.) I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Thanks, Ken.

  • Eric Hinkle

    I remember some people commenting than when they watched Volcano, they were cheering for the lava.