Dante’s Peak (1997)


Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator 2) star in this old-fashioned disaster flick about a volcano that’s about to wipe a small town off the map. Brosnan plays a volcanologist who, in Jaws-like fashion, warns the town of impending doom after discovering a pair of hot spring bathers boiled alive. His boss (The Thing‘s Charles Hallahan), however, doesn’t want to freak out the citizenry and scare a major corporation from setting up shop in the sleepy villa. The mayor (Hamilton) is more on Brosnan’s side, which is a good thing because she’s going to need his help rescuing her two young children from the mountaintop once the lava flows.

Dante’s Peak is an unforgivably formulaic flick, marred further by a few truly idiotic character decisions. But if you don’t mind rolling your eyes a few times, the film mostly delivers on the promise of spectacle. Director Roger Donaldson (The Bounty, Cocktail) does a fine job building tension and balancing a little human drama with all the visceral mayhem. The movie has a few genuine nail-biting moments, including a horrifying scene of self-sacrifice when a motorboat stalls close to shore in a boiling lake. Producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Relic, Aliens) brings high production values, with gorgeous Idaho locations, a portentous score by John Frizzell and James Newton Howard, and impressive special/visual effects work.

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