Volcano (1997) Poster

(1997)

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What America needs is a few good volcanic eruptions?
jpsaldibar19 August 2000
As a Big Budget movie, I'm sure that "Volcano" took more than a few months to make. Too bad someone associated with the movie didn't take that time to wander into the local library (the children's section, perhaps), and check out a book on "Volcanoes". I've seen Saturday-morning cartoons that have a better understanding of lava.

Instead we get many scenes of outright stupidity that would challenge even the densest of viewers. In one scene, Tommy Lee Jones and an assistant are standing near a volcanic vent, and their protective suits start to melt (of course skin is stronger than a protective suit, so they escape unharmed). But in numerous later scenes, people walk by lava like you might walk past a lake. Maybe this is because no one seems to know it's lava. I lost count of how many times a character said something like "What is that stuff?" or "There's something really hot and glowing coming down the street, and things are melting into it. Wonder what it could be?"

In what has to be one of the worst scenes ever filmed, two characters load an injured man onto the outstretched ladder of a hook & ladder truck. Then they hang onto a dangling fire hose as the ladder is lifted above the lava. The heat is so intense that the fire hose SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTS, but our characters are unhurt (their boots smoke a little). I didn't know that fire hoses were so flammable...

But "Volcano"is not just a dumb disaster flick with bad science. No! It's also a Socially-Important Commentary on our Society Movie! Throughout the film there are numerous "social messages". These are so corny and contrived that they could only have been written by people who have never actually experienced them. A racist cop tries to arrest a guy for assault (in the middle of a disaster scene!), but then the two team up to help save the day. Aww. Later, a little kid notes that "everybody looks the same" when covered by ash and soot. Aww. America's racial troubles could be ended, if only a giant volcano threatened us all.

More? Oh sure, there's more! Tommy Lee Jones is the too-hard-working dad who comes to value his daughter. Said daughter is a selfish brat who learns some responsibility, and respect for her dad. There's a guy whose only role in the movie is to say obviously insulting things. This makes him the "bad guy". One can see the writers of this movie hammering his role out: "We need someone who's rich and yuppie-like and snooty. Someone like us, only not as enlightened. Someone who wouldn't make a Socially-Important Commentary on our Society Movie like we are!" Of course, bad things happen to him and all is right with the world.

In the end, the mysterious, glowing, sometimes-hot substance we come to know as "lava" is channeled into the sea, and all of LA lives happily ever after in a just and fair world. A world, of course, with a big smoking volcano plopped down into the middle of it. Certainly that won't affect the real estate values?

The lessons of this movie are quite clear. 1) lava is harmless if you don't touch it; 2) small children will inevitably wander into incredible harm (but emerge OK), and 3) only through the trauma of sudden volcanic activity will we come to appreciate the true Brotherhood of Man.

Whoever thought up this movie should be thrown into a volcano...
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6/10
The script is the real natural disaster in "Volcano"
SwingBatta6 February 2002
Watching Mick Jackson's disaster flick, in which the eponymous natural disaster wreaks havoc throughout Los Angeles, is like watching a 3 a.m. infomercial. It's such silly, mindless fluff, yet there's just something about it that keeps your eyes glued to the screen.

"Volcano" is admittedly well-cast and acted, despite a dreadful script and a plot whose summary could fit on a matchbook. Tommy Lee Jones, who would give 110% making a McDonald's commercial, stars as Mike Roark, the hard-boiled head of the Office of Emergency Management, where he is assisted by his sidekick Emmit (Don Cheadle). After initially pooh-poohing the thought of a volcano in L.A. from geologist Amy Barnes (Anne Heche, who constantly ends her lines with a four-letter word like a period after a sentence), it's only a matter of time before he is proved wrong before his very eyes. Other solid performances come from Jacqueline Kim (Dr. Calder), John Carroll Lynch (Stan, the oft-maligned subway boss), and Keith David, a great actor who is otherwise wasted here in a role as a police lieutenant who has no impact on any events in the film, which is halfway over before he even appears on screen for the first time.

However, there's the small problem of having something resembling a good story to go with the awesome visuals, which are indeed spectacular. But forget the volcano; Jerome Armstrong's script poses the greatest threat to the characters. To put it mildly, it's the biggest piece of cliché-ridden muck to come along in awhile, laden with plot holes, smarmy sentimentality (the offender here being a dog rescue scene near the beginning) and heroics, forced we-are-all-brothers morals, and implausibilities. Yes, this film is rooted far from reality, but it should make a little sense along the way.

Working at the OEM must be the cushiest job in the world, for all the employees do throughout the picture is holler at each other and stare blankly at computer monitors. (And why do they continuously show news broadcasts on their big screen? Is that where their disaster briefings come from?) Mike's sullen daughter (Gaby Hoffmann, in a thankless role in the tradition of "True Lies" and "Face/Off"), due to her own incompetence, is suddenly thrust into peril and is thus separated from her father, a subplot that helps build up what turns out to be one great big joke of an ending. Describing it here can't do it justice. (After being taken to the hospital in Dr. Calder's Land Rover to receive treatment for a second-degree burn on her right leg, she is seen some time later with a bloody scab on her left cheek as she talks to Mike on the phone. And you thought your HMO was rough.) Plus, I seriously doubt that someone who jumps right into a pool of hot lava would slowly melt like a snowman in Miami while he screams and tosses the body of a man nearly twice his size to safety from a burning subway train. Then there's the wonderful family-oriented scene of two firemen burned alive in their overturned truck.

And, lest we forget that "Volcano" takes place in L.A., there's the obligatory racist-cop episode in which a black man asking the fire chief to help his neighborhood is suddenly handcuffed out of nowhere by an officer for "harassing" him, a tacky scene complete with (groan) references to Rodney King and Mark Fuhrman. (The whole time he's cuffed, the black man makes carefree wisecracks to the officers all while his 'hood is burning to cinders.) But, of course, everything's eventually resolved. "You're a good man," the other cop praises his partner after the latter grudgingly dispatches fire trucks to the black man's neighborhood, as if he has performed some immense display of generosity.

In another lovely homage to L.A., there's also a looting scene, where extras run incredibly slow while carrying empty boxes.

And what in the world was with the constant barrage of news reporters? Did we really need someone reporting "The house behind me has just exploded into flames...all hell is breaking loose!" while people were running for their lives all around her? As the volcano explodes out of the La Brea Tar Pits and lava is running onto the street, it's from a reporter describing this sight from where we hear one of the worst lines in the film: "It's as if the tar had caught fire, melted and somehow expanded." Hey, McFly, if tar is already a liquid to begin with, then how in the world can it melt?

When an army of helicopters drops gallons of water on the lava blocked off on Wilshire, the reporters and camera crews, who are camped right up against the concrete barriers, manage to stay conveniently dry the entire time.

Despite a high body count, scores of injured civilians and billions of dollars in damages, everybody's smiling as soon as a rainfall ensues, like those 7up commercials circa 1986. ("Feels so good comin' down!" Remember that?) Lots of questions are left unanswered: How will they clean up and repair everything? Will a future eruption occur soon? Will the Cubs win the World Series?

Yet for all its pretentiousness and gaping flaws, I have to admit that "Volcano" was entertaining. It's a load of escapist camp that doesn't have a care in the world. And I do have to give credit where it's due; somehow the filmmakers managed to keep slow-moving lava exciting for 104 minutes.

Plus, you can't help but get a kick out of a disaster film that includes the line "This city's finally paying for its arrogance," and finds the time to include a Bible quotation. 7/10
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4/10
Volcano made ash of itself, here.
ironhorse_iv18 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was pretty lame. I didn't lava it. In 1997's, the United States was welcome that year with two big budget volcano films. One was Dante's Peak, the other is this mess of a movie. Directed by Mick Jackson, the movie had a lot of things going against it. One thing is the horrible acting. Tommy Lee Jones seem to forget what movie, he is in; because he's channeling his inner Samuel Gerard from 1993's Fugitive with this role. Tommy Lee Jones plays Mike Roark, head of the Los Angeles Emergency Management Center whom with Dr. Amy Barnes, a volcanologist (Anne Heche) discover an actual volcano ready to emerges from the La Brea Tar Pits and destroy Los Angeles. It's up to Mike and his management team, including his second-in-command Emit Reese (Don Cheadle), to save as much people as possible. Too bad for Los Angeles, they put a guy in change for Emergency needs that has no clue, how Volcanos and earthquakes work. That's really smart. Serious, how does this guy, not know what lava and manga is!? The ignorance of geography is just annoying. Are we supposed to believe no one in LA has a clue what a volcanic eruption or lava looks like? Sure, the first time people might do double-take. However it soon gets to the point where the film seems to be set in an alternate reality where the very existence of volcanoes is an obscure geological fact completely unfamiliar to the general public. It's an insult. For a city as large as Los Angeles, the fictional and totally ridiculous volcano erupting un-noticing erupting is just out of the world, unrealistic. How does this volcano get unnoticing for years from every scientist in the world, over the years? Yes, California is a geologically complex place with many centers of volcanic activity, but most of them aren't anywhere near the Los Angeles Basin. So maybe, scientist weren't looking for it, but still Los Angeles area has no volcanoes active or even recently extinct. The LA basin is also full of oil wells and tar pits. Petroleum deposits cannot form geologically in the presence of volcanic activity anywhere in the vicinity; you can't have oil, tar, and volcanoes in the same place, period. It's nearly impossible to have volcanos such as a Parícutin type there. It's like me, saying that the volcano on the moons are all activate, when there clearly dead. Another thing that bugs me about the movie is Anne Heche. I really don't buy her as a scientist. She has to be one of the worst actress that came out from the 1990s. The movie even has the nerves, to set up a love plot between the 28 year old, Anne Heche and the 51 year, Tommy Lee Jones. Really? Do you think, that's needed for this ridiculous movie!? They have little to no chemistry. If that doesn't get you turn off, the movie adds more sub-plots like a doctor, Jaye Calder (Jacqueline Kim) choosing her job over her jerk husband who wants to flee the city. Why on earth, did the man marry her, if he's against her helping people? I would thought, the word 'Doctor', who give him, some clues, what she does for a living. The movie even wants to deal with racism. If there wasn't enough sub-plots in the movie, alright. There is a few scenes where a black guy and racist cop are fighting while the eruption and lava flow are going on. Only to connect with each other, when the disaster threaten their neighborhoods. In a better movie and director, this would be great social commentary, but in this film, it's deliver in such a cheesy and offending way. Even the boy last line in the end of the movie, sounds tacky. Another bad character is, Roark's daughter, Kelly (Gaby Hoffmann) who tend to freeze up constantly, forcing people to save her. Her clueless way to save herself, cost the chance of her hero trying to save someone else's life. Does she felt any empathy about that? No! The worst instance being losing a kid she was put in charge of and when she finds him on an exploding street, decides to stay there and wait to be saved. Her behavior is justified mention by an easily missed conversation between her mother and father early in the movie, but gees... she so tiresomely getting saved all the time to the point, that I wanted her to die in the film. There is also a lot patting scenes with characters that have little to do with the main plot. While, I do like the character of Stan Olber (John Carroll Lynch) and his last scene was pretty damn epic. There is little reason, why the movie needed him, around. The visual effects were alright in the most part. Still, there couldn't get the science between the lava, right. I like how the heroes place concrete barriers in a cul-de-sac so when the lava reaches them it'll dam itself, but they face it in the wrong direction for the dam to work. In real life dams and bridges need to have the arc against the point with the most pressure. There are too many instances to count where individuals are standing directly on the other side of concrete barriers redirecting and holding back lava. Most of them, with the ash they breathed in would have turned the insides of their lungs into pavement and killed them well before the final act. The movie was composed by Alan Silvestri. Too bad, it's not that good. Overall: The ads say The Coast Is Toast, but to be truth, the movie is toast. It's painful to watch.
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3/10
Get me that lady geologist!!! (spoilers)
Captain Ed29 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
'Volcano' is a B-movie at best, and at worst is more of a disaster that what it's supposed to be depicting. To be fair, you have to be prepared in any movie to suspend disbelief for one major concept. 'Volcano' asks you to suspend disbelief in science, human interaction, and common sense.

Tommy Lee Jones gets to be the studly-yet-1990s-sensitive head honcho of the Office of Emergency Management, and he's fine when he's not stuck with the stupid dialogue the script provides. However, Anne Heche gives a howlingly bad performance as a smart-ass geologist who becomes Roark's love interest (while the city is burning down, natch). Gaby Hoffman goes from Field of Dreams and American President to a turn as a whimpering, needy, and victim-for-life daughter of Jones. Don Cheadle gets to sit in a really coooool office and take Jones's phone calls, doing the job that in reality Roark would and should be doing.

Anyway, the movie really starts going downhill when Heche's geology partner gets sucked into a lava vent while they're breaking into the subway lines. It picks up speed when Jones starts suggesting that they use buses to dam the flow of the lava flowing down the street, Heche's geologist (who loves to lecture everyone about The Science Of Geology) being apparently oblivious to the fact that lava is hot and it melts metal, and rock, and a dead bus is unlikely to have much effect. It really starts to suck when the film introduces Rodney King-like racial tension between two bad actors dressed as cops and an angry black man who can't understand why the fire department is busy with this large river of flowing lava. But hey, in the end, the three of them will be working together to build a K-rail dam to stop the lava from eating up his neighborhood, even though the dam is built in the wrong direction and the material used wouldn't stop lava anyway. Besides, K-rails are hardly watertight, but I guess lava wouldn't think to poke its head through the gaps, not when Tommy Lee Jones is glaring at it. Don't even get me started on the stranded-subway-car subplot, where a tunnelful of hot lava is coming down but oddly enough, it's not too hot to attempt a rescue, it's not too smoky to see, and there aren't any poisonous gases so everyone can breathe. This must be LA Lava, or Lava Lite. You know, it eats cars but is eco-friendly.

There are moments of sheer camp here that almost make you wonder if this was meant to be a comedy. For instance, the two security guards packing up Hieronymus Bosch paintings have a completely meaningless and farcical conversation about weight, and at the end, no sooner does the little boy Roark/Jones rescued note that everyone looks the same while covered in ash, than a rainstorm breaks out and cleans everyone up -- and then the sun comes out and Heche says something along the lines of, "aw, shucks, Roark".

'Volcano' almost achieves Battlefield Earth status, but except for Heche no one approaches Travolta-like badness and the technical aspects are handled pretty well. If you are from the LA area as I am, it's kind of funny to think of a lava flow wiping out Wilshire Boulevard. I gave it a three for the effects and the little amount of tension you get from this.
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A pretty simplistic disaster movie with all the usual clichés but just enough stuff happening to make it passable entertainment
bob the moo29 October 2004
Despite a history of major geological events in the area, nobody really suspects anything when a handful of pipe engineers die from intense burns while underground. Investigating the accident, OEM chief Mike Roark almost gets killed himself when an underground fissure throws up intense heat and flame. Expert Dr Amy Barnes believes that magma may be coming up to the surface of the earth and causing the events but, would you believe it, nobody buys it. Nobody that is, until the tar pits overflow and start to pour lava onto the streets, destroying everything in its path. With Roark convinced and Barnes wishing she had been wrong, the race is on to protect the city.

Better known as 'that other volcano movie of 1997', this film gets out the disaster movie handbook and follows it step by step. So we have a manly and practical hero, an expert, children and pets in peril, human conflict, sacrifice, special effects, 'bad' politicians etc etc. So far so formula, and so it all continues. The basic set up does the usual things by setting up the most basic of characters for us to use as a focus before then just letting the lava go and relying on special effects to do the rest. The need to turn the drama into a specific story around Roark means that it occasionally forces him and his into unlikely dangerous positions that require them to be inches away from the action; this is not convincing and at times just feels like overkill, sucking any real tension out of the film.

Without much real excitement the film just piles on the special effects and, unfortunately, these look dated with some poor back projection failing to really cut the mustard.

The film soldiers on, unsure of how it can keep raising the stakes while remaining plausible (it doesn't!) and it will satisfy those just looking for a noisy disaster movie but no more than the clichés that those produce. The script has a few digs at LA (the news reporting, the pet obsession etc) but these don't amount to much but it works much better than the rather sickening attempts at racial commenting in the final few scenes ('everyone looks the same' – ugh!). The cast try hard to convince us that they are real people in real danger but even the talent involved cannot do much more than put on grim faces and soldier on. Jones is a good lead because he has a solid presence, but even he cannot make it exciting when he is placed within inches of anything falling/burning/exploding. Heche simply fits into the 'I hate it when I'm right' expert without really bringing more than competence to the role, while Hoffmann simply tries to find trouble to get into anytime the film dips. Cheadle is good support but minor subplots featuring the likes of David, Corbett and Rispoli only serve to highlight that the film cannot even manage to do the disaster movie stable of having each character have a background to make us care.

Overall this is an average disaster movie at best and, as such, will only really play well to those that like that sort of thing. The script is weak and cannot wait until the lava flows but even then struggles to make it exciting, throwing specific near misses at us again and again to keep us interesting. The cast have nothing to work with and make little impression but viewers may find this has just enough going for it to make it watchable if totally forgettable.
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Cheesy disaster mayhem should have been called "Lava"
Dr. Gore3 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT*

The most important thing to know about "Volcano" is that there is no Volcano. Lava bubbles up from the La Brea Tar Pits and sludges through L.A. So a more apt title would have been "Lava". Or perhaps "Lava Flow". Or how about "It's like Lava!". Where oh where did my Volcano go? Oh where, oh where can it be? It must be stuck in a different movie.

Anyway, "Volcano", (Lying title!), is a disaster flick. It's a very mainstream, cheese-o-rama, disaster flick. It's the kind of flick where people do noble things and your eyes are supposed to water up with emotion. Oh, they'll be watering up all right. You'll be laughing your head off so much that the tears will fall. One scene stands out: A guy tries to save the passengers on a subway train from the slowest moving lava in the world. So he jumps on board and starts taking people out. In his final act of selfless courage, he carries the last person out as he slowly melts into the lava! I don't know about you, but if lava was burning my legs to the bone, I think I'd be howling in agony. I sure wouldn't be able to keep a straight face like this guy, nor could I carry anything, let alone a person, to safety.

The whole movie is like that. It's about people caring about other people. A preposterous disaster will unite us at last! Sniff, sniff. A little girl at the end of the movie notices everybody covered in black soot and remarks that they all look the same. Can't you see the message? We're all the same! Humans must help other humans! Especially when Hollywood concocts an asinine disaster flick! Save me!
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7/10
A good 'just sit down and watch' film
horseygurlz25 June 2011
I'm not going to pretend that this movie is realistic. It isn't. But if you want to just sit down and watch a film with action, drama and entertaining characters, then this is the film for you.

Most disaster films are unrealistic, have no science behind them and if you think about them too much just get worse and worse. This movie is no exception. However, it is still a brilliant film if you want to sit down and not think too hard, or if you want to put a movie on without having to give it your full concentration. Personally, I think this film is great. There are better films out there, including better disaster films, but there are so many films that are ten times worse yet get better reviews. That's probably because they have better actors or are more realistic - but the job of a movie is to entertain, and this film does that brilliantly.
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3/10
Have mercy...
themonfees21 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Although this movie (and I use the term loosely) was made in 1997, we just watched it tonight for the first time. My husband commented that a Tommy Lee Jones movie that we'd never heard of made him a little apprehensive. I blithely watched anyway, certain that if Jones was in the movie, it must at least be worth two hours of my time. After all, he has been one of our go-to actors for years. Although Heche isn't one of my favorite actresses, I was additionally reassured by seeing another well-known face. The list of accomplished actors/actresses continued to grow, so I endured more and more of this film, certain that if I pushed through enough clichés and trite social statements, I would arrive victorious on the other side of the plot. Alas, there was no plot. It appeared to be burned by the ever-oozing lava of doom.

The characters were paper-thin. The plot was so chock full of holes that it literally distracted me from most of the special effects and acting in the movie. Was the fee for a brief consultation with an elementary science teacher too much for this film's budget? No acid rain...no toxic gasses (like sulfur or hydrochloride)...no deadly ash...no skin-searing heat just a few feet from the lava. Wow...it's the world's friendliest lava ever!

The events were no better than the characters. Each incident was so contrived and far-fetched...it's like the writers said "Okay, we need to get rid of the little girl NOW"...and poof, she's splashed by a lava bomb which burns her enough that she has to be carried to safety (not from the lava, but from her own helpless stupor)...but just moments later in the car she is in no apparent pain and soon after is running effortlessly through the (groan!) building that (oh no!) is about to be blown up. After enduring all of this, your reward is the line from the little boy at the end (about all the people looking the same)...which has got to be one of the worst movie lines I have ever heard. Even if it wasn't so painfully scripted, it was ridiculous timing for all the characters involved. Kid and cop aside, as if the mother would still be in the area and just needs to be pointed out because she just isn't speaking up...what...she's hoping to slink off into the shadows and get away from the little brat once and for all? I don't think so. Obviously the child's mother would be missing or dead - or yelling her head off to find her toddler.

The token black gangsta tough hoodlum with a secret soft spot versus the chip on his shoulder narrow minded cracker cop with a secret soft spot scene made my eyes bleed. Even if such pat characters existed, they wouldn't behave as the movie portrays them given the circumstances. Something about imminent fiery death and massive destruction tends to catch people off-guard, ya know?

There are too many canned movie moments like these to mention...really, it's just an embarrassing movie to watch. Those poor writers...where are they now?
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2/10
Boring.
Grumpy Pheasant28 January 2011
I'm a reasonable man. When the title "Volcano" shows up on my TV screen, I know the score: this is a disaster movie.

The formula dictates it contain archetypal characters, corny dialogue, a hefty dose of "Hollywood science", unbelievable behaviour, loose plots and half-arsed social commentary and if the director wasn't the kind to blindly follow formulae, he wouldn't be making a disaster movie in the first place.

So, it should come as no surprise that Volcano includes all that in copious amounts. That's not what damns the movie.

When you enter a disaster movie, you do so under the premise that all those groan-inducing ingredients will be drowned under an, if not entertaining, at least distracting buffet of jaw-dropping devastation. You willingly surrender plot, characters and realism on the altar of eye-candy; such is your tacit contract with the director.

Mick Jackson doesn't uphold his end of the bargain: at first, we're served a silly but promising premise: the lava is sentient, throwing smouldering homing boulders at people and stores it just cannot tolerate. But after a burning (sorry) humiliation suffered at the hands of the scientist (she warns others of the homing properties of the boulders), the lava just gives up, it just flows at a snail's pace through the streets of LA, half-heartedly trying to catch the heroes before being relatively easily contained.

Let this serve as a warning to anyone looking to make a volcano movie: when your lava loses the will to live, your audience loses interest.
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7/10
Fun Albeit By The Numbers Disaster B-Movie
Space_Mafune8 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Head of Los Angeles Emergency Operations Mike Roark (Tommy Lee Jones) and plucky seismologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) find themselves dealing with a crisis of monumental proportions when Los Angeles is suddenly threatened by an erupting volcano!

While I have serious doubts with regards to the legitimacy of a lot of what's presented on screen, that's also true of most disaster films and make no mistake, that is what this is... a 1990s attempt at updating the classic 1970s style disaster B-movie. It has the usual disaster movie focus of looking at the crisis from the point of view of several key, barely fleshed out aside from our leads, characters. It is a little slow getting started but once the lava flows, I have to admit I just sat back, grabbed some popcorn and had fun watching this one. Where this movie best succeeds is in its portrayal of human courage in the face of impending doom and disaster, my favorite scenes being the hurried rescue aboard the stranded subway train, Roark running in front of a falling building in an effort to save his only daughter and Dr. Calder trying valiantly to save lives in the middle of a busy street. Where it falters is in its attempt to say something about race relations, those scenes proving absolutely groan inducing. Plus it offers very little truly new and surprising, very little we haven't seen in movies of this type before, but at the end of the night, I have to admit it held my interest as a fun, popcorn movie.
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8/10
Ridiculous But Solid Entertainment nonetheless **** out of *****
Welshfilmfan30 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have noticed from a lot of the other comments on here regarding this Movie is that a lot of reviewers here are bitching about the lack of scientific accuracy..... This is a Big-Budget Hollywood Movie for Christ sake, Get a life! you're NOT supposed to take this kind of stuff as fact... It's a 100 Minutes of Mindless escapism....Nothing More... Jeez!!!.....

While I would agree most/Nearly all of the situations which happen in 'Volcano' are highly unlikely such as trying to stop a flow of lava with a Bus, standing inches away from molten Lava and not feeling the heat... Unlikely of course but this is Hollywood.

Slight spoilers!

As for the Plot here goes..... Tommy Lee Jones Plays Mike Roark The Director of the Office of Emergency Manangement (Nice Title!) Anne Heche (What Happened to her?) Plays a Geologist (stretching credibility a bit too much there) called Amy Barnes who team up to stop a Volcano (Well Obviously!) From destroying Los Angeles....and that's pretty much it.,,,, and it's full to the brim of all the usual Disaster Movie clichés such as the guy who runs the Metro doesn't believe listen to Roark & Barnes' concerns....blah....blah.... ends up being a hero while melting to death in a pool of Lava.......Lost Blonde blue eyed boy.....Scared injured daughter...... The sexy Doctor's heartless Boyfriend.....all present and correct......

End of slight Spoilers!

Now 1997 was a big year for Volcanoes as Dante's Peak came out the same year as this and audiences seemingly wanted neither as both Films Flopped 'Volcano' took just HALF it's $90m Budget Stateside and barely broke even Worldwide while 'Dante's Peak' took $67m stateside against a $100 plus Budget, Personally though I prefer 'Volcano' as I can't stand Pierce Brosnan, although neither movie really deserved to bomb.

Take 'Volcano' for what it is a Big Budget Hollywood Special FX Extravaganza and don't try to think too much and moan about the inaccuracies and you WILL enjoy.... I did, as Hollywood Blockbusters go, this is one of the Best.

****/*****
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5/10
The Good & Bad Of 'Volcano'
ccthemovieman-110 September 2006
BAD NEWS - Unlikeable female lead in Anne Hesch, who had too foul a mouth for me. Other irritating characters with stupid dialog. A predictable ending with the needlessly drawn out save-the-daughter scene trying for maximum suspense.

GOOD NEWS - Some awesome disaster scenes. Hollywood's special-effects just keep getting more awesome as the years go on. A fast-moving story that was just about the right length. A likable lead character played by Tommy Lee Jones.

Overall, a movie that keeps your attention but doesn't get your respect with the dumb dialog.
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2/10
Like Dante's Peak, only stupider!
Ruairidh MacVeigh30 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
As someone who's watched both the simultaneous Volcano disaster movies of 1997, I can say without a doubt that this movie fails to hold a candle to Dante's Peak, simply because whilst the situation in that movie was realistic, though predictable, and the action you could be gripped by with some enjoyable characters to back it up, this film has pretty much the opposite, but still laboured with the predictability aspect.

So what's the red lettuce? Tommy Lee Jones plays Mike Roark the head of the Los Angeles Office of Emergency Management, and after an earthquake rocks the city, he's sent to investigate an apparent gas explosion at the MacArthur Park which has killed several workers. This is followed by strange activity at the La Brea Tar Pits, where some of the sculptures in the pits start to melt. Early the next morning, another violent earthquake rocks the city again and very soon a large lava spewing volcano emerges from the Tar Pits, spreading out into the city. With the assistance of a geologist played by Anne Heche, Roark must try to bring down the destructive force of nature before it wipes out the entire city on its way to the Pacific!

Now, aside from the many glaring plot points and the fact that as a Geography student I could write a paper on how inaccurate this movie is, what specifically is wrong with this movie?

(Although I will say, if you drop 1,000 gallons of water on top of a Volcano like they do towards the end, that won't stop it erupting!)

Well, whilst it maintains the predictable 'the volcano's gonna erupt at some point' streak that Dante's Peak did, it's just generally a bore. The build up to the eruption isn't half as subtle or suspenseful as that in Dante's Peak, and even when the eruption happens it's not particularly exciting. The fact that the lava is moving slowly down the street really takes you out of the excitement, sort of like "Oh my goodness, it'll hit us eventually! Better stick the kettle on then..." Dante's Peak had the advantage of faster moving lava, an acid lake, a wall of debris laden water and a Pyroclastic Flow to keep both us and our heroes on the move.

Next are the characters, who are all unbelievably stupid. Whilst Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche I'll excuse for the fact that they actually get stuff done to try and stop this thing, the other character's roles extend to just standing there with their mouths wide open in shock as this big red mass of heat approaches them. The daughter is especially stupid, spending the first half of the movie being a rebellious, angst teen, and the second half just standing gawking at the obvious danger rather than running away or ducking for cover like any other human being would. This is just one of many scenes that you find yourself scratching your head in confusion at, because you really can't let them slide, they're just too stupid for words.

So, to sum up, this movie is exactly the same as Dante's Peak, only much less enjoyable. The most jarring problem is the characters, who are all very stupid and act less like human beings and more like lost sheep! The story's recycled, the CGI is recycled, the pace is slower and less exciting, there's enough plot holes to sink the Isle of Wight, it's just a big boring mess!

Word of advice, avoid, like these characters should have been doing with the lava!
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3/10
Put me off going to L.A., I can tell you.........................................
ianlouisiana4 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Oh God,the noise,the crush,the people...............Everybody shouts sooo loudly and talks in hippy - liberal clichés.No,give me the cold remoteness of the taciturn Londoner with not an ounce of good neighbourliness in their shrivelled xenophobic souls,at least I know where I am with them. It seemed to me on watching "Volcano" that the makers actually wanted Los Angeles - a city they clearly considered a cess - pit of racism,greed and immorality - to perish rather like Sodom and Gomorah and be rebuilt by them as a city of purity,philanthropy and brotherly love - a bit like Phildelphia.Unable to effect such a change personally,they instead sent Angelenos an "Awful Warning" of what might happen if they didn't change their ways.The Parable of the Volcano. Unfortunately,the thing with parables is they have to connect somewhere,however peripherally,with real life and their movie doesn't. I found the dog who rescued his bone from the lava flow more convincing than Mr T.L.Jones and the bone itself more lifelike than Miss A.Heche. "Volcano" is not a satire on Disaster Movies,would that it was.No,I'm afraid it was supposed to have been taken seriously.The fact that very few people taken it seriously must have seriously p*ssed off its makers. Unless we pull our socks up it will be the rain next time.
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6/10
Feel the heat...more or less
james_corck329 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the cheap visual effects, OK? This movie hits are the paced rhythm and the following report of the events. If you add a clock showing what time is when those events take place, then you have something that is almost close to a realistic disaster event. This is pre-day after tomorrow, so after Twitser this movie came out. And well, I never thought I would say this, but the tornadoes of Twister look more realistic than the lava of this movie. At some times it looks like vanilla ice cream melted in orange juice. Thank god, well, not god exactly but the casting director, we have Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche, doing a great duo performance like those we saw in The Poseidon's Adventure of The towering inferno, so they are opposite, but they complement each other, giving u the best picks of this cheap blockbuster made by Hollywood. There are many, too many characters in this movie, too much for me. The annoying Metro director, the friend of the geologist, the always needful girl and little boy (what is a disaster movie without a darn kid in it?), the doctors, the friends of the protagonist (who must die at one point, but not all of them, of course) and the same guy who always says "we are not going to make it". If we look at it with ironic eyes, this movie is autoparodic. But that wasn't their purpose.
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4/10
Another superfluous disaster movie
The_Void25 August 2005
There's been a movie made about almost every other type of natural disaster, so why not volcano's? Actually, why not make two movies? This big budget trash went up against that other big budget trash, Dante's Peak, back in 1997; and even though this one obviously had more to work with; it still managed to come off even shorter than Pierce Brosnan's dreary vehicle. Featuring all manner of "great" special effects and autopilot performances from all concerned; Volcano subscribes to the classic 'disaster movie' profile, and shows this further by ensuring that the plot makes about as much sense as blowing up your house to keep it from being robbed. Tommy Lee Jones struts his stuff as some bloke who works for the government, and Anne Heche gets down and dirty as someone who knows about volcanoes. When a volcano erupts in Los Angeles (where'd that come from?), it's up to these two (and a load of firemen etc) to stop the lava in its tracks before Tommy Lee Jones' daughter is killed! Oh...and the rest of LA. The story is set up in the usual way; someone notices something, blah blah, he's ignored, blah blah, disaster happens, blah blah, the day is saved. Blah. Blah.

This film is completely pointless, and is obviously only there for entertainment value. Still, even as entertainment, this falls flat on it's face. Obviously, in a film like this; you've got to expect some over the top sequences and silly goings on (such as a sequence that sees a train worker save one of his friends...), but the film continually throws stupid ideas into the plot, and before long it just gets so silly that it's impossible to care about it. Quite how Tommy Lee Jones has managed to maintain a semi-respectable reputation after all these years is astounding. To me, his name has become synonymous with 'stupid load of rubbish'. He might have the ability to portray a rugged action character, but he's unbelievably corny and doesn't make a good lead. Anne Heche stars opposite him and just does what you'd expect the 'female with brains' to do. Don Cheadle, who met with high acclaim after his performance in the massively overrated Hotel Rwanda, gives a very mundane performance, but I'd still rather watch him than either of the two leads. On the whole, if you're going into this expecting some brainless fun; you'll be pleased to know that it is brainless, but unfortunately it's about as much fun as an actual volcanic eruption. Definitely NOT recommended.
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6/10
Mick Jackson's Antithesis to THREADS
Theo Robertson2 September 2004
I find it's impossible to write a review of a Mick Jackson movie without pointing out that in 1984 he shocked the nation of Britain with his nuclear holocaust docu-drama THREADS . Anyone who saw that on its BBC broadcast will never forget the grim , bleak , depressing and powerful depiction of the end of humanity . Seeing as THREADS was set in the Yorkshire town of Sheffield and filmed on a budget of what appeared to be three dollars fifty cents you'd think he'd use some of his unquestionable talent and VOLCANO's $90 million budget to make a convincing scenario of a city devastated by events beyond its control

But Jackson has been there , done that , bought the T-Shirt and written his name in broadcasting history with THREADS and the last thing he wants is to make another grim shocker where millions of city dwellers die . Picking the dumbest script imaginable Jackson has decided he's going to enjoy himself this time and filmed the complete opposite to his nuclear holocaust horror show .

Remember in THREADS a myriad of scientific advisers were used ? It goes without saying that no scientific bodies were consulted in the making of VOLCANO . Mind you this may actually work in the context of the story since the characters are so dumb , there is a logic to having a bunch of underground workers being burned to death and no one saying " Hey these men were killed by lava . If we don't evacuate the city millions of people are going to be burned alive by a volcanic eruption "

Remember in THREADS after the bomb drops its everyman for himself ? That was probably the most terrifying thing about the docu-drama , of having your throat cut for your meager supplies of food . But not here where the guardians of law and order are not only noble enforcers of justice throughout the movie but also make sure no one is discriminated on the grounds of race and culture . You've also got the feeling that if looters existed in this movie they wouldn't be shot but given a place on a counseling program

There's also a similar aspect to the above . In THREADS people are left in the rubble to die since it's not practical to save them . Here the laws of physics have been changed so that if anyone is trapped under a burning truck a passer by can magically lift up the truck with one hand thereby rescuing the injured party . There's even a scene of self sacrifice that has to be seen to be believed , not that the scene was in any way believable to start with

The English speaking world are obsessed with their pets and Jackson used this to harrowing effect in THREADS . We saw family pets suffocating in firestorms . If you didn't feel sorry for the human beings killed you'd feel sorry for the poor animals . In VOLCANO we're treated to several scenes of pets in peril being rescued . I'm not sure how many people die on screen but I'm certain not one single type of mammal dies on screen apart from homo sapiens

I don't believe for one moment that Mick Jackson's contrast between this and THREADS is coincidental - It's done entirely on purpose with the only connection being a scene of irony . In THREADS this takes the form of characters standing in front of a billboard advertising life insurance while in VOLCANO a character reads a book on writing screenplays . You won't need life insurance when the bomb drops while VOLCANO shows being able to read a book on screenplays doesn't mean you're capable of writing one

Unfortunately VOLCANO flopped at the box office and only made half its production costs in American cinemas which effectively ended Mick Jackson's successful Hollywood career which is shameful . I don't know about you but anyone who can direct two pieces of totally contrasting work is a literal genius in my opinion
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4/10
A disaster film in just about every sense of the word.
Paul Andrews9 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Volcano is set in Los Angeles where a minor earthquake has just hit, vacationing boss of the O.E.M. (the Offcie of Emergency Management) Mike Roark (Tommy Lee Jones) decides to cut his holiday short & go in, once there he sees that everything is alright but then drives off to the epicentre of the quake where seven underground workers have been killed by a fire or intense heat of some kind. Mike isn't sure what to think so he brings geologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) in to try & explain things, unfortunately a huge underground river of molten lava has been released after the quake & erupts at the La Brea Tar Pits sending the lava pouring out into the city streets engulfing anything & everything it touches in flames. Mike, his men & the emergency services have their work cut out trying to stop the river of lava & save as many lives as possible...

Directed by Mick Jackson this was the second big budget disaster flick revolving around the idea of an erupting Volcano during 1997 with Dante's Peak (1997) being released a mere two months or so before Volcano was & while Dante's peak is hardly any sort of masterpiece at least it's slightly better & more plausible than Volcano is. The script here is total nonsense & is not based in reality at all, underground rivers of lava that seem to appear & then disappear just as quick, various character's standing inches from a river of lava yet not being affected by the heat (when that guy is on the train the metal seats around him start melting but he remains perfectly fine, as far as I am aware human skin is not as heat resistant as metal, is it?) & it constantly happens, helicopters flying is clouds of ash (in reality it would be impossible), one simple blockade at the end of a street will stop the flowing lava (what about down the other streets & other directions?), being able to blow a perfect trench in a street & then blowing a huge building up to make a massive dam & when Kelly sees the lava heading towards her car she gets out just like anyone would but then for some reason just stands there & watches two firemen get burned to death & waits for her dad to save her even though by this stage her leg has caught fire, despite all those concrete blocks being placed together to make a barrier in less than twenty minutes the guy's do such a great job not one bit of molten lava manages to seep through & loads more besides like that massive building falling on Tommy Lee & his daughter yet then both being fine afterwards. The character's are awful too although they were not as clichéd as usual with no romance blossoming between Tommy Lee & Anne Heche & minimal city official's who try to shut Tommy Lee & Anne Heche up before the event labelling them scaremongers. There's a few badly written & at times embarrassing moral moments as Los Angeles pulls together, the black guy & that semi racist cop who warm to each other & by the end are wishing each other well & that little kid at the end when he says 'everyone looks the same' is cringe worthy & is surely a ham-fisted attempt & trying to say whatever colour we are we are still human beings & we can all get along in time of a crisis as it brings people together. Having said that I think Volcano is one of those so bad it's good films, it entertains & it moves along at a decent pace but just don't expect anything grounded in reality or any human drama either.

I suppose a film like Volcano could be seen as an updating of a 70's disaster film such as The Poseidon Adventure (1972) or Earthquake (1974) but on a huge budget with modern effects work. Speaking of the effects they are alright but none stand out that much & the set-pieces are also surprisingly forgettable, sure there are a few impressive explosions & a few OK river of lava flowing through Los Angeles effects but little else. Generally Volcano just isn't very exciting & while occasionally unintentionally funny & completely ridiculous it doesn't really work in the way the makers intended.

With a supposed budget of about $90,000,000 it opened to a little under $15,000,000 at the box-office, it looks alright & there's lots of fire but nothing stands out & Volcano is a pretty forgettable film overall. Filmed in Los Angeles I think most of the places featured here were shot at their real life locations. The cast go through the motions with some terrible dialogue & ridiculous set-pieces to contend with, Tommy Lee Jones deserves better than this.

Volcano is a bit of a disaster in both senses, it is a disaster themed film that ended up a bit of disaster itself. Worth it for a few unintentional laughs & the ridiculousness of it all but it's nothing great & I doubt I would ever want to see it again.
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2/10
This movie was such a disaster, you couldn't look away.
ganoe12 March 2005
This movie is a disaster within a disaster film. It is full of great action scenes, which are only meaningful if you throw away all sense of reality. Let's see, word to the wise, lava burns you; steam burns you. You can't stand next to lava. Diverting a minor lava flow is difficult, let alone a significant one. Scares me to think that some might actually believe what they saw in this movie.

Even worse is the significant amount of talent that went into making this film. I mean the acting is actually very good. The effects are above average. Hard to believe somebody read the scripts for this and allowed all this talent to be wasted. I guess my suggestion would be that if this movie is about to start on TV ... look away! It is like a train wreck: it is so awful that once you know what is coming, you just have to watch. Look away and spend your time on more meaningful content.
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7/10
Good, but the Underdog Wins!
Elswet22 March 2007
I have to say this is a big blockbustery KABOOM popcorny effects extravaganza, with a solid story, and good performances. This (released in April of 1997) was 20th Century/Fox's answer to Universal's Dante's Peak (released in February of 1997), a superior movie in all ways except one...It doesn't have Tommy Lee Jones.

I have to say that Jones makes Volcano. Without him, this work would be nothing than an overblown, over-written piece of popcorn trash. As it is, this is a delightful "Mother Nature Gone Awry" flick, with totally kick butt effects.

I found it riveting, but liked Dante's Peak more.

It rates a 7.4/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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5/10
Just where is the Volcano exactly?
Spikeopath4 March 2008
Well this is just a very average film stuffed full of the usual mainstream disaster genre clichés. Even myself as a staunch defender of the genre can not bring myself to rate it above average, because sadly it is something of a wasted opportunity. The film's cast is full of very reliable and solid performers, the budget was there to bring out some daring sequences, and of course the basic community in peril plot is always one of interest. So to get anything from this film you really do have to check the brain at the door and suspend all belief because the writers have rewritten the laws of gravity and the intensity of molten lava in full flow.

The film would compete with Dante's Peak in the same year for the title of best Volcano disaster film, it lost, but so did the fans of the genre. For even today we are still waiting for a Volcano based film to grip and excite us, because even with the advance of technology both 1997 Volcano movies teeter on the brink of boredom, even if they just about fail to actually tip into the abyss. 5/10
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8/10
Fire, Fire, Fire everywhere!
Kilik-Sama3 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This is pretty intense! I had mixed feelings about this film back then. It's pretty good. I do love the effects in here. Things get heated when the lava starts to flow down the streets.

The movie has it's share of perils and drama also.

A Puppy is trapped in a house and escapes.

A Fire Man is blasted out of the fire truck and suffers a fractured skull.

Stan risks his life to save the engineer and burns away in a tragic part. Pretty tear jerky also.

Two women venture into the tunnel and a fissure swallows the other woman up.

This movie had me freaked out when I was 13. I'm 21 now and it still sends me chills and thrills. If you are a fan of disater films and fire... this may be for you.
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4/10
It will satisfy those who just want some forgettable entertainment.
Filipe Neto15 June 2017
American cinema loves to destroy things, the bigger the better. In this case, the thing to be destroyed is Los Angeles, with a huge volcano rising right in the middle of the city. Its a very traditional disaster film, true to its genre, in which the improvised hero saves the day with total heroism, in a situation off total despair. The only two real characters here are the Volcano and the City because no character is truly developed, not even the hero. They are faces, people who do things. Sometimes they're there just to scream hysterically, be scared, to die, to show cowardice or to create situations in which the hero will shine. Because of this, the work of the actors is just OK, including Tommy Lee Jones. It would be impossible for any actor to shine with such empty characters. The strongest part of the film are the action scenes, stuffed with special effects. Some are so far-fetched that we're forced to think that guy should be on the luckiest day of his life to survive in that unbelievable way. But anyone who is expecting a CGI show will be disappointed: they're not always good and seem a bit dated in the eyes of the current audience. But it's a 1997 movie... everything has its time and, of course, with today's technological breakthroughs, our eyes will not see this movie the same way we watched it twenty years ago. Even so, there are some scenes and sequences where the film is powerful and emanates a pleasant tension that makes us uncomfortable. Not everything is bad, predictable or cliché.
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8/10
Actually pretty good !!!
fofml12 June 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, I wanted to see this movie just because of Anne Heche but I wasn't expecting too much from it as there were some pretty bad reviews/comments. But now after I saw it I must say that it is really not that bad. I mean, after all this is an action movie! It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen and it's obvious that it didn't get many awards but for an action movie I think it's very good. The effects were great and everything looked so real. The story has a lot of fantasy in it but that is also an usual thing for action movies. The movie is very entertaining and I had a great time watching it. Anne Heche was as great as usual even tough the script doesn't give the actors much space to show their talents. If you wanna see her in a great part, watch Return To Paradise. Overall a good action movie, I rate it 8/10.
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5/10
An updated B-movie with little else that's innovative.
emm11 March 1999
Can you say "Box Office Disaster"? As in what you've just seen in VOLCANO? I knew you would! A movie that gives us the works in special effects and a huge cast of firemen and police officers, it feeds on our appetites for a nonstop panic of disaster. All that's missing here is the plot, turning this grade-A visual feast into another ordinary B-movie. We pay the price for expensive graphics, and very little to keep us on the edge of our seats. Unlike TITANIC, this one is on maximum horsepower without showing any important aspects to the story. We see tons of people roaming around, gigantic explosions, a large pack of flying helicopters, tall buildings collapsing, close calls from death by an inch, and all the more. How about ripping off THE BLOB or other vintage sci-fi schlockers, for crying out loud? I don't see how a slow stream of crawling lava can make a movie exciting, and not even the helping hands can help prevent this masterpiece of eye candy from being another average effort. Nice try, but it just doesn't work.
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