Volcano Movie Review

Volcano Movie Review
“You’re not in Kansas anymore, Mike” – Emmitt Reese

It’s a beautiful day in Beverly Hills. The cabana boys are laying out the fresh white towels for their guests. There is a huge protest demonstration for a new subway line, where one protester is complaining about a muffin. On the other side of town, a father is fixing breakfast for his daughter. At the hospital, patients being treated for gunshot wounds. It looks like it’s going to be a typical California day.

Fast forward, a few moments later, the town is shaken by a 4.9 magnitude earthquake. Subway workers place bets on the magnitude of the earthquake. Everyone is handling the quake like it’s just an everyday occurrence, because to many it was. Unbeknownst to all there is a bubbling hot, flaming-red liquid flowing below the ground that promises to spell out disaster for the rich and the common. The first sign of trouble are workers killed in a blast at MacArthur Park. This is fast becoming a day that no one would ever forget.

The big moment arrives and the La Brea Tar Pits erupts and spews hot lava high into the sky. The only problem is that even though the movie is called Volcano, a volcano never actually materializes above ground. It’s more about the lava flowing through the underground sewers and train system, the man-hole covers blowing sky high and other eruptions from the underground disturbance. Ash starts falling like snow they try to save the city. The good thing is that the news cameras are still able to report the tragedy on television minute-by-minute.

Volcano has an all-star cast. Tommy Lee Jones plays Mike Rourke, Office of Emergency Management Chief. Rourke is trying to save the city, despite the city officials. Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche), the resident expert on all things “volcano” is at his side. Don Cheadle plays Emmit Reese, Rourke’s guy “back at the office” who takes care of the communications. Cheadle’s sarcastic wisecracks add just the right amount of humor.

The movie does have wonderfully tense moments, however. The train passenger rescue had me sitting on the edge of my seat. The final push to save the city was definitely climatic. Some of the special effects, however, were a bit cheesy and the lava reminded me of “The Blob”.

Fortunately, it seems that despite the earthquake, the threat does not extend beyond Los Angeles and its immediate surrounding areas. The movie makes a mediocre attempt address the social issue on the separation of classes, when all the public safety officers are sent to the city, rather than saving the homes of the poor and middle-class.

If you are a fan of natural disaster movies, you will find Volcano pretty typical, yet enjoyable.

I would rate this movie a 3 out of 5 for some of the special effects (and I’m a Tommy Lee Jones fan).

Rating: PG-13 for the “intense depiction of urban disaster and injuries.

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