Film Review – DANTE’S PEAK (1997)

DANTE’S PEAK (1997, USA, 108m, 12) ***
Action, Adventure, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures (USA), United International Pictures (UIP) (UK); pr co. Universal Pictures / Pacific Western; d. Roger Donaldson; w. Leslie Bohem; pr. Gale Anne Hurd, Joseph Singer, Marliese Schneider; ph. Andrzej Bartkowiak (DeLuxe | 2.39:1); m. John Frizzell; ed. Conrad Buff IV, Tina Hirsch, Howard E. Smith; pd. J. Dennis Washington; ad. Francis J. Pezza, Thomas T. Taylor.
cast: Pierce Brosnan (Harry Dalton), Linda Hamilton (Rachel Wando), Jamie Renée Smith (Lauren Wando), Jeremy Foley (Graham Wando), Elizabeth Hoffman (Ruth), Charles Hallahan (Paul Dreyfus), Grant Heslov (Greg), Kirk Trutner (Terry Furlong), Arabella Field (Nancy), Tzi Ma (Stan), Brian Reddy (Les Worrell), Lee Garlington (Dr. Jane Fox), Bill Bolender (Sheriff Turner), Carole Androsky (Mary Kelly), Peter Jason (Norman Gates), Jeffrey L. Ward (Jack Collins), Tim Haldeman (Elliot Blair), Walker Brandt (Marianne), Hansford Rowe (Warren Cluster), Susie Spear Purcell (Karen Narlington (as Susie Spear)).
This effects-driven disaster movie sees Brosnan as a volcanologist who convinces Dante’s Peak town mayor (Hamilton) and the unbelieving populace that the big one is about to hit and they need to evacuate immediately. When Hamilton’s two children (Smith and Foley) go up the mountain to get their stubborn grandmother (Hoffman), Brosnan and Hamilton must rescue the kids and grandma before the volcano explodes in a shower of molten lava and ash. The visual effects work is excellent and the many scenes of chaos and destruction are well constructed. Alongside this, Brosnan and Hamilton make engaging leads whose relationship grows through the story. Once the eruption gets underway character development takes second place to the non-stop action. There are some weaknesses and an occasional lack of logic and plausibility in the mechanical script, but for those willing to go along for the ride there is still plenty to enjoy here.