Dante’s Peak

  • Title:  Dante’s Peak
  • Director:  Roger Donaldson
  • Date: 1997
  • Studio:  Universal
  • Genre:  Action, Adventure, Romance
  • Cast:  Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

Dante’s Peak is a typical  disaster movie, but that isn’t a slight against it.  Pierce Brosnan is Dr. Harry Dalton, a vulcanologist, who is sent by the US Geologic Survey to the sleepy town of Dante’s Peak in the Cascade mountain range to check to see if the mountain is about to turn volcanic.  His early investigation leads to some warning signs, but his boss, Paul soon arrives and urges caution – since a false alarm could be an economic disaster for the town.  ‘Course, Paul doesn’t seem to think about what having the volcano explode will do to the town.

After a week of  intense study, Paul decides that they can monitor the mountain remotely, and they will leave the next morning.  Harry and Rachel (Hamilton) have a last date on the town, only to find sulfur in the town’s water – a sure sign of  an impending eruption.  They go to pick up Rachel’s children from her home, only to discover they have gone to their grandmother’s cabin up the mountain.  The second half of the movie is the more traditional action-oriented part – with plenty of narrow escapes and heart-break, as the situation goes from bad to worse to worst.

But at the end of the day, Harry, Rachel, Rachel’s two kids, and the dog survive.  Paul doesn’t.  The crew of geologic survey interns does, though.   Actually, for a disaster movie, there isn’t as much death as one would normally expect (as in most big Hollywood disaster flicks where huge casts of famous people die horribly).  There are deaths, mostly of them stupid – and pretty much off camera or near off camera (the film has a PG-13 rating).  But it’s also typical in the Hollywood disaster movie tradition in that Harry is a bit of a “Cassandra” figure – he keeps predicting the mountain will blow, which it does spectacularly, but he isn’t believed until it’s almost too late to do anything about it.

There’s also a bit of romance between Harry, who lost his girlfriend Marion to another volcano they were studying four years previously, and Rachel who’s divorced.  Brosnan and Hamilton have good chemistry and the two children and dog aren’t nearly as annoying as they could be.  Overall it’s a fun, exciting movie with good special effects.  Enjoyable to watch, especially as an escape (in a good way) or “popcorn movie” experience.

Recommendation:  See it – for the fun of  it.
Rating: 4 out of  5 Stars
Next film:  Dare Devil