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Movie Review

Dante's Peak

Reviewed by: Dawn Cole

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens and Adults
109 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton / Director: Roger Donaldson / Released by: Universal Pictures

You need not wait long for a big dose of excitement in this film!

“Dante’s Peak” opens with Dr. Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan) and his fiancee, Marian, caught in a violent volcanic eruption in Columbia. You watch in horror as they try to escape. Huge chunks of flaming lava explode around them like rockets. Panic stricken, they drive through ash and mud rain. You get a feeling they might just make it when, suddenly, a projectile of burning lava crashes through the roof of their truck and strikes Marian on the head, killing her.

Four years later Dr. Dalton gets a call from his boss, Dr. Paul Dreyfus, alerting him to some seismic activity in America at Dante’s Peak. Dalton is to monitor the situation there.

Harry arrives in town during a Pioneer Days celebration as Mayor Rachel Wondo (Linda Hamilton) is accepting an award naming Dante’s Peak the 2nd most desirable place to live in the USA. Rachel takes Harry up the mountain to do some testing. Her children, Graham and Lauren, and her mother, Grandma Ruth, come along—eager to swim in the hot springs.

The kids soon find dead, maggot infested squirrels on the trail. Harry notices several dead trees in the area also, alerting him to the possibility of deadly gasses coming up from the ground and killing vegetation and small animals. He conducts more tests in the lake and finds unusually high pH levels. The kids and grandma head over to the hot springs for a dip. Harry grabs Graham and stops him just before he jumps in. As the hot steam clears we see two nude, adult bodies floating face down. They are young lovers who, only hours before, had taken a dip and died when the volcano belched hot gasses and lava into the springs.

Harry instructs the Mayor to call an immediate meeting of the city council to put the town on alert. When Harry’s co-workers from the US Geological Survey arrive, his boss interrupts the council meeting and tries to put the town leaders at ease. Boss-man Dryfeus says that only scientific evidence, not Harry’s opinion, will be the factor to put the town on emergency alert. The boss' team of geologic experts monitor the area for a week and conclude that this is a quiet volcano.

…That evening Dr. Dalton bursts in on his sleeping boss to show him the city tap water, full of sulfur, a sure sign the volcano is very active.

Panic. A town meeting is hastilly called the next day, during which quakes start “swarming” (coming closer and closer together and increasing in intensity) and Sulfur Dioxide emissions rise as the volcano spews ash.

The town becomes the scene of a chaotic mass evacuation. The quakes intensify, causing freeways to collapse and sending cars bouncing. Buildings implode, electric poles snap, gasoline tanks blow up. Harry goes with Rachel to get her children, but discovers that Graham has taken the car to go get Grandma Ruth. Rachel and Harry start up the side of the volcano to rescue everyone, and the road behind them is destroyed in landslides.

As they desperately speed to Grandma Ruth’s cabin, their only escape from flowing lava is across the lake, via boat. All the fish are dead, and Harry realizes the lake has turned so acidic it is eating the boat’s hull away. The propeller dissolves and the boat is sinking. Suddenly, stubborn old grandma jumps in the lake and pulls them to safety. The heroine dies a short time later from horrible burns and shock.

After taking a truck from a forest ranger’s station, they flee down the rugged mountain terrain.

Meanwhile, back in town, everyone left alive is trying to escape. But the only way out is across the bridge, and it is swept away. Harry is forced to drive over partially cooled lava (still hot underneath) to get to the town. He arrives on wheel rims, the tires burned off.

The volcano gives one last, huge blast sending a deadly piroclastic cloud (super heated, violent poison gas) raging down the mountain. Harry drives into an old mine shaft to escape the deadly blast. Sealed within the cave, the group must face their final drama…

Areas of Concern:

“Dante’s Peak” is intense, and not recommended for children. My teenager left the theater with shaking knees and fear knowing we live only a few hours from volcanoes. This film has a very realistic feel. That’s what makes it so good, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are two scenes of nudity; the young lovers at the springs. Badly burned bodies are shown; the lovers and Grandma Ruth. There are mumerous swear words (including God’s name taken in vain several times), bar scenes, and wagering at a pool table. Sex is discussed, but never depicted because the volcano keeps interrupting them! One graphic scene shows a compound fracture to Harry’s arm, bones sticking out. Dr. Dreyfus is killed after being swept off the bridge.

Want to Know More About Volcanoes?
If you want to know more about volcanic activity and how geologic structures are formed quickly during an eruption, I recommend the video “Mount St. Helens.” This compelling documentary shows how one of the most amazing geologic events of the 20th century—the eruption of Mount St. Helens—provides incredible scientific evidence for the world-wide flood of Noah’s day!

Viewer Comments
I saw this movie and I LOVED it! Except for the part where the guy and the girl get burned to death because of the hot water. They could not have showed that. I agree that please do not give away all the good parts in the review. Other than that one part, if I had a teenager that wanter to go and see it, I would actually let them go and see this one.
—Rebecca W., age 24
Several profannities (SOB,etc), and one scene depicting fornication as acceptable, but fortunately it doesn’t happen. Great scenery, entertaining, and great special effects.
—Steve Austin, age 52
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was edge-of-the-seat excitement. But I decided it was too intense for my two sons (aged 11 and 14). I read the review after I saw the movie, and would like to ditto the requests that plot details not be revealed; there were lots of spoilers in the review.
—Cheryl Sneeringer, age 52
The movie was very action-packed, almost to the point that I would like to see it rated “R” because of all the devastation. Although it was realistic of what could happen if a volcano erupted, even teenagers do not need to see everything. By the way, Grandma Ruth was Rachel’s mother-in-law, not her mother as noted in the review. I echo the words of others, don’t tell it all. I read your review before I saw the movie, and was not able to tell my husband the storyline without giving away all the surprises. There were a few swear words, but not enough to overshadow the movie’s theme. I would recommend this movie to my Adult friends.
—Traci Zerbst, age 26
I too agree-PLEASE do not include the “who dunnits” in the reviews! Fortunately, I have already seen this one! I found this movie fun and full of explosive special effects. There are plenty of “no way” escapes and unexpected “oh no” events-a very typical disaster movie recipe. I found it easy to get over-and I live only 50 miles from Mt. Saint Helen's! A good time movie. For the parents-some stronger language, a glimpse of backside nudity, some bloody injuries and death. ****
—Karen, age 33
It reminds me of the 70’s again! The disaster movies are coming fast and furious, but I always did like them! This one good, felt like the ending was a bit rushed, and as always in today’s movies, could have done without the swearing, but overall, a fast-paced action packed E-TICKET RIDE!
—Patty Jones, age 36
a good review should never tell the whole story, tell who dies, etc. I hope a reviewer doesn’t do this to keep others from watching a movie the reviewer does’t like. it would be very manipulative. I appreciate your reviews. I use them for my movie choices.
—Lance S. Staub, age 58
Although I haven’t seen the movie I feel like I have after reading this review. I agree with Tony… please don’t tell the plot of the movie in the review… now if I do go to see it I will know from the beginning that Dr Dreyfus dies at the end.
—Heather Black, age 20
Great Movie, but if you have read this review than you already know every scene. Reviewers, please don’t tell everything about the plot in the future, it spoils the fun of going to a movie like this!
—Tony Roberts, age 39
Excellent special effects. Volcanic eruptions will be more common in the end times. However, parts are unrealistic. A woman wading in acid for that long sounding as though she is in water a little too hot—she’d be dead. Driving through lava without really getting stuck? Volcanic ash is hot, and it seems like a walk in snow. The ending is riveting with him in the car, but after days in the cave in the cramped position he would not have been walking out. For sheer effect it is an effective movie.
—Jack Bergen, age 43
If you want an intense movie, this is it! My wife and I both liked it. Would have been even better without a few swear words and 1 partial nude seen. Had some great special effects. Maybe this will make people take notice of God’s awesome power.
—Mark Snoke, age 28
“Dante’s Peak” was a very intense movie. I found myself with sweaty palms and chewed up fingernails by the end of the movie. I have noticed something very interesting in the movie industry this year. There have been quite a few natural disaster movies such as Twister, Dante’s Peak, Astroid(TV Movie), The Flood(Movie coming soon) and many more. The prophesies in the Bible have all pointed towards disasters and rumors of disasters for the end times before Christ comes back. I suspect there will be more talk of disasters in the near future.
—Jason Allen, age 21
Comments from young people
I thought this movie was pretty good. I like action movies. I thought it would be a lot like Twister but it was much better than “Twister” and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat the whole movie. A lot of people said that showing the burned bodies and Harry’s arm was too graphic. It wasn’t that bad. It was realistic. I mean if that really happened, people would get hurt a lot more than that. And I have to say, Pierce Brosnan rules!!
—Laura, age 13
I don’t think it’s going to hurt to tell you if Dr. Dreyfus dies. THIS IS A DISASTER MOVIE! The main characters(as predictable as they are) are the only non-expendable people, the rest will probably be impaled or torn apart. I have friends who’ve informed me on how stupid “Twister”, “Daylight”, “Dante’s Peak,” etc. Hopefully, “Volcano” will change that and I’ll decide to see it.
—Michael C., age 15
Dante’s Peak is a very, very, very cool movie with lots of special effects. If they cut out they dead bodies, some swearing and Harry’s arm, it could pass as a “PG”. My 9 year old sister said she never wanted to see a “PG-13” again in her life. I thought it was a very intense movie, but not that scary. I especially liked the part where the freeway collapses. It’s a little on the bloody side, but, that’s ok. I think it was a very good movie—reminded of a “Pompei” show I saw once.
—Drew Shope, age 12
I thought that this was a very good movie. Some of the special effects could have been better, but that doesn’t mean that the movie was bad. The acting was good, and I totally love action-thrillers. All in all, this was a great movie. I hope others go see it too.
—Julie Kingsborough, age 14
Personally I thought Dantes Peak was a very good movie. My family enjoyed a lot. The main reason I thought it was so good was because it was very exciting and there wasn’t that much profanity in it. I think it is ridiculus that the movie companies put so much bad laguage, there is no need in it . The movie would be just as good wiyhout it
—Brandy, age 17