Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘DANTE’S PEAK – Handsome Harry vs the Volcano’
Dante’s Peak is paint-by-numbers disaster cinema. You take the everyman hero—in this case, vulcanologist Harry Dalton, whose played with a steely intensity by Pierce Brosnan—and you place him in a scenario where the odds of survival are long. Those odds aren’t helped by those unwilling to believe that there is, in fact, trouble brewing. It’s bubbling just beneath the surface at the base of the town’s iconic landmark.
Dalton—like Chief Brody before him—can yell until he’s blue in the face. The higher ups are content to ride out the storm atop of wave of willful ignorance. Their wakeup call: a fiery hail storm of ash and rock. His lone supporter—even his geologic team finds him to be overly anxious—is the town’s Mayor, Rachel Wando (Linda Hamilton). They battle the clock and the poor judgement of their peers to evacuate the town before it’s too late.
In that sense, there’s a lot that can seem familiar about its run-of-the-mill plot. And the first 50, or so, minutes is probably why the film received less than favorable reviews upon its release. And, honestly, why it isn’t all that good of a movie.
What does work about Dante’s Peak is its effects. A mixture of practical and digital—highly detailed miniatures overlaid with CGI—they hold up quite well for a movie made in 1997. You actually believe your witnessing a town succumb to the wrath of Mother Nature.
And once that destruction begins, there’s only one thing left to do: enjoy it. So sit back, hammer open a Pompeii IPA from Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. with a stray chunk of volcanic rock, and start up Grandma Ruth’s death boat! I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, Chumpzilla, and special guest Mayor McCheese are making the questionable decision to gas our truck directly through some hot lava! We’ll make it, though, with sheer will if need be!
This Week’s Segments:
- Introduction/Plot Breakdown – We take a trip to the sleepy, rural town of Dante’s Peak to examine how a long dormant volcano erupted, leaving disaster in its wake. (00:00)
- Interesting Facts and the “Hey … Haven’t I Seen This Before?” Movie Game – After a few interesting facts about the film, I challenge them to match movies to their overtly derivative pairs—i.e. Dante’s Peak to Volcano or Armageddon to Deep Impact. (1:07:41)
- Recommendations – Being indoors is better than having a pyroclastic cloud chase you toward an abandoned mine, but if you do find yourself stuck in an abandoned mine, we offer some suggestions to help you pass the time. And next up: The Adventures of Pluto Nash! (1:18:34)