Volcano (1997, Movie) – 5/10

Director: Mick Jackson
Tommy Lee Jones: Mike Roark
Anne Heche: Dr. Amy Barnes
Gaby Hoffmann: Kelly Roark
Don Cheadle: Emmit Reese
Jacqueline Kim: Dr. Jaye Calder
Keith David: Lt Ed Fox
John Corbett: Norman Calder
Writer (Story): Jerome Armstrong
Writer (Screenplay): Jerome Armstrong
Writer (Screenplay): Billy Ray

Volcano (1997)

In Los Angeles the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is headed up by Mike Roark and is about to face it’s sternest test when seismic activity starts to occur at catacylsmic proportions in downtown Los Angeles.


Reasonably efficient but entirely unconvincing disaster movie that benefits from an on-form Tommy Lee Jones, searing pace, a high excitement quota and some spectacular scenes but is undone by almost everything else. Principally, the story is rubbish and all the events that take place therein are deeply rubbish. On a line-by-line basis, the script is even worse. Especially bad is the black guy / arrogant cop confrontation but there are some desperately cringeworthy lines such as "I’m Lava, who’s gonna beat that?" "My dad." (pass the sick bag, please); and, regarding the ash-covered survivors, "Look at their faces. They all look the same." Bleugh! That said, Hollywood didn’t take kindly to director Mick Jackson making a film that, rather impressively, said Los Angeles deserved to burn and he hasn’t worked on the big-screen since.

This movie contains extremely unpleasant scenes.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

That said, the film under-performs badly in most areas. Examples? The standard of acting in the minor support roles is appalling. That said, they have real difficulty overcoming the film’s worst aspect – the story and script. Every aspect of the story is rubbish with the daft exception of the idea of a Volcano popping up in a populous city; how about Tommy Lee Jones outrunning a falling building (!); check out the moment when helicopters and fire engines dump tonnes of water on an area without anybody standing nearby getting wet; how about being able to find a specific female doctor among 2,000 people within just a few minutes; how about fully trained firemen training water and putting out fires on upper floors of buildings that are being consumed from below by lava; what about hanging onto a fire-truck ladder and being suspended above a lake of lava instead of simply climbing over a stricken vehicle to escape (though the script does ponder this aswell); or wiring a skyscraper for explosive demolition in a matter of minutes instead of months. Oh, and I probably shouldn’t forget the special lava that only emits heat in the direction required by the script.

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