You would think that we’ve reached the peak with disaster movies in the eighties but the nineties were pretty strong too! Starring charismatic Pierce Brosnan with his moisturizing British accent Dante’s Peak was a bit more realistic than the Volcano. And let me just mention Twister real quick and be done with it. There, there you go, that’s my childhood right there. Every time I saw that one of these three movies was on television I got all excited. Now I have to smoke a little something to get that effect but satandammit, it still feels good.
Dante’s Peak opens with a furious and quite chaotic scene featuring people scrambling to get away from the volcano. Right away you see this is a big production and not just because of the cast. The budget was a whopping $120 million so you know you’re in for some pretty imposing scenes of fiery destruction. Now, I would like to get back to that opening scene for a quick but rather sobering and depressing side note. Since this is a movie about a volcano eruption filmed at Mount St. Helens, I have to mention David A. Johnston.
David was a volcanologist who was at Mount St. Helens just before the infamous 1980 eruption. He was the first to report it yelling into the microphone “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!”. Unfortunately, moments after that message he was swept away by the blast never to be found again. I listened to that recording in a documentary and felt compelled to mention it here. Despite this little detour, you shouldn’t think that Dante’s Peak is a depressing or sad affair. This is an exciting disaster movie with a familiar cast.
After a scientist arrives in a small place under a big fucking inactive volcano (smart thing to do, build a city under the volcano) a series of threatening tremors have been detected. A female mayor with a crush on our Pierce is concerned. After ruling out the possibility of Graboids, Pierce concludes that the old furnace is going to be blowing at any moment. Of course, no one listens and then all hell breaks loose, literally.
Again we have the lame love story and the whole kiddie thing but still, it is not as bad as in The Volcano. After the furious intro, you will have to wait a bit for the explosion but it will be worth it, trust me. From this point on, we switch between the family getting away and the volcano causing more and more destruction. And a lot of odd scenes.
For example, our boy Pierce thinks it’s a good idea to drive right through a stream of lava. And he fucking makes it! It’s scenes like this that might make you chuckle or crack a joke or two. They make Dante’s Peak that much more fun. Additionally, you’ve got so many of these stereotypical characters that a game of who dies first is practically a must.
Now, the special effects stood the test of time for the most part. However, just know that a couple of scenes will look a bit outdated. On the other hand, some people might enjoy these nostalgic moments. I wonder what kind of disaster movies we’re going to get in the future? Finally, I just have to mention the other two disaster movies of the nineties. Both of them are also very similar, as both Deep Impact and Armageddon feature the same kind of threat.
Director: Roger Donaldson
Writer: Leslie Bohem
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton, Charles Hallahan, Jamie Renée Smith, Jeremy Foley, Grant Heslov
Fun Stuff: The “volcanic ash” was really fine newspaper shavings.