An underrated film featuring an underrated actor and actress who has been washed away from Hollywood limelight, until Cameron announced recently that will bring back Linda Hamilton in the next Terminator film. Dante’s peak is one of those films I owned during the VCD era. I was younger of course. I remember being terrified by the film’s visuals at the second half. The volcano eruption and subsequent cataclysmic cloud sequences were done realistically. Even today, after seeing all the CGI gimmicks, Dante’s peak’s visual effects could be taken into a case study.
After getting readings on how Dante’s peak could be active in the next few days, Volcanologist Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan) reached Dante’s peak with his team. With the help of the mayor Rachel (Linda Hamilton), Harry discovers that the town is more in danger than he expected. But his boss Dr. Paul Dreyfuss (Charles Hallahan) is against the idea of issuing an alert as it might affect the business and economics of the town. Soon the volcano erupts and people are racing against time.
The film is predictable as you will know that it will happen later on the film. Roger Ebert and other critics slammed the film for its lack of thrills and suspense as it made the overall experience soulless. The film is predictable and it is expected as you will know what will happen. For eg: Rachel and Harry falling in love, it is supposed to happen when the two leads having a complicated past are brought together. Besides, no matter what genre, Hollywood tends to pair up the lead characters. It is like saying when Dante’s peak activated itself, Rachel lost everything but Harry came out with a trophy. However, to this film’s credit, it is uplifting as Rachel gets to move on and be with someone she could count on, especially when it comes to the relationship with her children. Harry is protective, responsible and down-to-Earth. The chemistry between Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton worked well in that regard. Another predictable aspect includes those scenes where an accident is bound to happen, like the beginning sequence when Harry’s girlfriend is killed, when the chopper goes in the air amidst the ash and the landslide.
So, what makes Dante’s peak so good?
Roger Donaldson’s direction and his vision which captured the beauty of the mountains and the disaster sequences are on point. Dante Peak is established as a very beautiful and desirable place. When the Volcano erupts and the whole town is covered in ash, we will feel sorry for the whole environment. And, there is no way in which we could beat the nature, we can prepare for the worst and save our skins. The film keeps us at the edge of our seats in the second half while first half takes time and liberty to establish the incoming danger along with Harry’s relationship with his colleagues and Rachel. A major plus point is a scientific accuracy the storytelling follows, which will help us learn a thing or two about volcanic activities and how we could prepare for the worst. Above all, the presence of Sulphur dioxide in water and acidity of the lake indicates the possible volcanic activity.
Pierce Brosnan is underrated as an actor as people drooled over his image as James Bond and as a handsome hunk. He is steadfast with apt dialogue delivery and graceful masculine gestures that is seen in a British gentleman. Dante’s peak features one of my personal favorite performances by Brosnan. Linda Hamilton is lively and has a commanding presence on-screen though her role is reduced to a side character. She has the voice of authority as a hardworking mother with a love-hate relationship with her mother-in-law. Jamie Ranee Smith ios expressive and delivered an effortless portrayal. Elizabeth Hoffman stuck to her standard. The scene where she sacrifices herself to save Harry, Rachel, and the children, is well directed.
James Newton Howard’s themes and John Frizzell’s music will remain in your brains long after you watch the film. Dante’s peak is an experience you should have if you grew up watching CGI excess films. In fact, it further reminds me during this time of remakes and reboots, why can’t Hollywood make more films like this?