>Anyone who stays informed with the world around us knows that the city of Los
Angeles is capable of anything. Fires, floods, earthquakes, mud slides, two
O.J. trials, incompetent D.A. officials and the list goes on and on and on.
One thing you wouldn't expect to find on that list is an active volcano
forming under the city's main core and that's exactly what happens in this
thrilling and strangely plausible film featuring a cast starring the movie's
special effects largely put together by visual effects supervisor Mat Beck
who has worked most impressively on television's 'The X-Files' and has a
bigger budget this time around to work with.
As for the human cast, Tommy Lee Jones stars as the head of the O.E.M.
(Office of Emergency Management) in L.A. and he is joined in the volcanic
discovery by a geologist (Anne Heche) and together they try and figure out a
way to minimize the human casualties and maximize the flow of deadly volcanic
lava away from the masses.
Comparisons to 'Dante's Peak' from earlier in 1997 are inevitable but what
makes 'Volcano so much better is the sensation of finding this fury of nature
in a place where it's possible but unlikely. Los Angeles is portrayed with
all its stereotypical trappings and they mix in an interesting way with the
disaster at hand.
Another plus for this quality piece of filmmaking is the editing by Michael
Tronick and Don Brochu. Under the specifications of director Mick Jackson,
they have constructed a movie with a lightning quick pace and you will be
hard pressed to look at your watch even once during the film. The movie
takes an in-depth look at the beginnings of volcanic activity as we see many
hints of one developing and even many details of one in action courtesy of
the screen writing by Jerome Armstrong and Billy Ray based on Jerome
The acting in 'Volcano' is almost non-effective but that's perfect for a
disaster film and the only film in that genre I've ever seen with a cast of
well developed characters was 'The Poseidon Adventure' (1972) in which we
cared about the people involved and got a look at their lives in a memorable
fashion. 'Volcano' is an early contender for the Oscar for Best Visual
Effects and even though it's early in the year I predict this one will rank
as one of the year's best action/adventure films.
Copyright © 1997 Walter Frith