Lately there have been a string of special effects driven movies that are lacking in story and characters. And Dante’s Peak is not unlike these movies.
If you’ve seen Twister, you’ll know the basics for Dante’s Peak. A scientist driven by a memory of a loved one lost to the “monster” of nature. In Twister the monster was the tornado, and the scientist was Helen Hunt’s character Jo. In Dante’s Peak, the monster is a volcano and the scientist is Pierce Brosnan’s Harry.
But, is that all the coincidence between the two movies? No, Dante’s Peak also has the rag-tag team of scientists, the red truck, the corny love story, and the opening scene showing how “the loved one” was lost.
You might be wondering how a two-hour movie can be made out of one volcano blowing its lid. I know I did. The movie starts out with a bang (pun intended). But it quickly slows to a smoldering. The movie then spends the next hour building the antagonistic relationship between Harry and his boss and the love story between Harry and the mayor of Dante’s Peak (Linda Hamilton). This part is slow going, and had me looking at my watch. Then all of the sudden Dante’s Peak explodes (who could have predicted that?) and although the action is dry and stale, there is enough tension to keep the movie going from here on.
On a special effects level, Dante’s Peak is incredible. On a story level it’s nothing more than cold slowing lava. Is it worth seeing? If it is a matinee showing, sure, go see it on the big screen for the special effects.