Boston's Alternative Source! image!

R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 04/24/1997,


Pre-millennium tension is still the best explanation for the recent tidal wave of disaster movies -- which hasn't made it any less boring. It seems films like Volcano exist mainly because they're expensive to make and thus easy to market as expensive. To wit: Volcano cost $90 million before advertising! It's an epic!

Still, this one's smarter than most, and a masterpiece next to Dante's Peak. Amid the FX avalanche, Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche pull off some delicate chemistry as LA professionals whose opposing MOs collide during an urban volcano. He's an emergency chief with such workmanlike crisis skills that he pulls out a jackhammer to help direct the flow of lava; she's a seismologist who favors more-scientific methods while philosophizing that "this city's finally paying for its arrogance." In the heat of this LA riot, the two develop a genuine respect for each other -- and so do a civilly disobedient black man and the white cop who cuffs him, as Volcano's symbolic eruption gives way to a "Can't we all just get along?" tract. Indeed, everyone's the same color under a half-inch of ash. At the Cheri, the Fresh Pond, and the Circle and in the suburbs.

-- Rob Nelson