Volume 90, Issue 77

Tuesday, February 11, 1997



Hardly the peak of perfection

Dante's Peak
Starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton
Directed by Roger Donaldson
At Galleria, 7:20 and 9:50 p.m.

If you thought the commercial was exciting, tape it and watch it again.

Dante's Peak, the most recent Hollywood attempt at disaster-making starring Goldeneye's Pierce Brosnan and The Terminator's Linda Hamilton, continues a recent movie trend that tries to combine the wide world of science with dramatic entertainment.

Scientifically speaking, the chemistry stinks.

As a small town named Dante's Peak awaits its eventual demise below a dormant-turned-violent volcano in the northwestern United States, a team of vulcanologists (volcano scientists, not the Star Trek kind) are sent to study some strange geological happenings in the area. Once they make a couple of mistakes and a few misjudgments, the audience can finally see what it is paying for – human suffering and mass destruction.

Unfortunately for action-movie fans, en route to the loud bangs and overturned remote-controlled cars, there are attempts to include a plot, which inevitably ruins these types of movies.

One of the scientists, Harry (Brosnan), becomes attached to the town's mayor (Hamilton) and her family. Thus, just as the volcano decides to burp a few tons of volcanic innards, it becomes the job of Harry to save the town, the mayor and of course, her misplaced family.

If it sounds exciting, it isn't. It's just plain stupid.

The rescue operation involves saving two kids under the age of 12 who drive halfway up the mountain to save their stubborn grandmother. After a valiant effort to flee the eruption, she dies and the focus switches to saving a dog and themselves from lava, falling rocks and trees and the most exciting effect of the movie – the paraclastic cloud (a volcanic blow-torch of debris and ashes that travels over 200 miles per hour).

Just like scientific yet plotless spectacles before it (see Jurassic Park and Twister), Dante's Peak is a watchable movie only because of its effects. Regretfully, the best scenes, just like the cloud, are over fast and don't arrive until the very end of the show.

The main actors do a credible job at playing their roles since being believably dumb isn't an easy assignment. As well, the citizens of Dante's Peak deserve credit for a stellar job acting chaotic and absolutely useless in a crisis situation – adding even more explosions and suffering as 20,000 people run for their lives. And once they evacuate and the ash has settled, all that remains is a happy ending worth forgetting.

–James Pugsley

Gazette file photo
FAILED TRYOUTS FROM INDEPENDENCE DAY. Linda Hamilton (right) and Pierce Brosnan run amidst frightened civilians in Roger Donaldson's Dante's Peak.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997