Volcano (1997)

You know, I used to think that firefighting, a former occupation of 
mine, was the perfect job for a problem solver.  That was before 
meeting Mike Roark, director of Los Angeles' Office of Emergency 
Management.  As played by Tommy Lee Jones, this guy has one *heck* 
of a problem on the city's hands:  orange stuff is spewing from the 
La Brea Tar Pits and oozing it's way down Wilshire.  Palm trees are 
a-flame, fire trucks are melting, and these nasty little things 
called lava bombs (what, you didn't see DANTE'S PEAK?) are ruining 
everybody else's day.  Oh, what to do, what to do?  

Now, since Mr. R. is a Hollywood construct, he's also a single dad, 
who's supposedly on vacation with his surly daughter, and both of 
whom just happen to be riding by The Pits when they erupt.  (You 
can decide if the story has more fuzzy logic or convenient coin-
cidences.)  His partner in grime is a plucky geologist ("get me a 
scientist!" he hilariously barks and is handed Anne Heche), who 
tried to warn him, yesterday, that something in the rock might be 
ready to roll.  (Had he heeded her warning, we wouldn't have a 
movie.  Or, for that matter, the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see 
Ms. Heche wearing a silver, heat-reflecting suit.) 

In a perfect world of guy movies, VOLCANO would be all about how to 
divert the lava, extinguish the fires, triage the casualties, and 
save the city.  Director Mick Jackson (L.A. STORY), obviously bored 
by such linear thinking, has more on his mind.  He's included a 
hokey moral message (black and white is gray, when covered with 
ash), some classic camp (how else to explain yet another dog bark-
ing at lava?), and plenty of homage to the city that, admit it, 
you're happy to see burn.  (My favorite bit:  a Metro employee 
reading a book on writing screenplays that sell.)  All of this--
in-jokes, action sequences, cornball drama, and spectacular special
effects-- is compressed into an exhilaratingly exhausting 105 
minutes.  If you don't shut down from sensory overload, you should 
be entertained.  (Rated "PG"/105 min.)

Grade: B-

Copyright 1997 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: April 27, 1997

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