The Victims: Anyone interested in entirely fact-based geological films . . . they just don’t exist anymore.
Dante’s Peak February 1997
Volcano April 1997
Similarities: Both are about cities/towns where mysterious geological events have been responsible for peoples deaths and the powers-that-be insist there is no reason to worry. That kind of logic has been successful in many thriller style films but the first one that comes to mind for me is Jaws. Therefore I shall call it Jaws-Logic and it shall be so. Muhahahaha. Anyway the Volcano (shark) is out there. The main characters know of the imminent threat but are forced to investigate the matter on their own until everything spirals out of control and everyone is in danger. Through unimaginable odds they are able to escape the wrath of the Volcano and save the day.
Differences: Dante’s Peak is kind of more traditional Hollywood in the sense that Harry Dalton (Brosnan) gets a chance at redemption. He loses his girlfriend in the beginning of the film to a Volcano and then four years later happens to be in the position to warn an entire town about an imminent threat of a Volcano. Along with that he is paired up with a no non-sense female Mayor of a small mountain town in Washington played by Linda Hamilton. It’s a boy meets girl story with a very angry mountain trying to come between them.
Volcano, is more of a trendy disaster movie. The two main characters are very well-matched and neither of them ever seem to over power the other. Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche (Pre-Crazy days) are actually a well suited match. The film deals with all aspects of the disaster and has several interesting sub-plots that end up bolstering the films story. You have a trauma surgeon struggling with her fiance’ who is thrust into doing emergency medical work, the Subway Engineer who is forced to help save a subway car full of people from an underground lava flow, and the troubled youth picked up by police who ends up helping them and other emergency workers build barricades to protect neighborhoods from lava in the streets. I can hear the song Come Together in my ears as I type.
The Verdict: I like Volcano more. I just think it has more guts to it’s story and is more enjoyable to watch overall. Plus I like how they managed to hint at flirtation between the two main characters as opposed to shoving some cheesy love story into the mix. Dante’s Peak should just have a movie poster modeled after those dime store trashy romance novels.