Volcano (1997) Movie Review

Volcano (1997)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler


Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Don Cheadle, Gaby Hoffmann, Keith David
Director: Mick Jackson
Release Date: 25 April 1997
Language: English
Length: 104 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3/5 stars


“Earthquakes look like child’s play compared with what Mother Nature is throwing at Tinseltown this time. A volcano erupts and threatens to engulf downtown Los Angeles. But fear not: Tommy Lee Jones is in ass-kicking, “Listen up, people!” mode as he and scientist Anne Heche make sure the volcano thinks twice before it blows its top on the City of Angels.” — Netflix.com


This movie is fairly typical disaster-movie fare, but there were a few standout scenes that elevated it to something decent to watch on TV.  Tommy Lee Jones plays the character he always plays – Tommy Lee Jones – and delivers his lines in a stoic, monotone fashion.  Yet you just love that he tells you outrageous things with a straight face and you somehow feel comfortable with him in charge.  He is nothing special in this role, but he helps carry the movie through.  I am not a huge fan of Anne Heche, mainly because I cannot believe her in any romantic scenes with the lead men, but she was okay.  I did not quite buy her as a brilliant scientist, but I have seen worse.  The real standouts in this movie for me were some of the supporting actors.  I don’t know who they are, but the director helped pad the movie, slow the pace, make the movie more interesting and personal by featuring a few individuals.  I think that we lose sight of how many everyday heroes there are around us when something huge happens in our areas, like a volcano erupting.  Firemen were the first on the scene and many of them gave their lives to try and save others.  A public works employee sacrificed himself to save a stranger on the subway.  National Guard soldiers helped out in the hospital and moved as many victims as possible to try and keep the death toll down.  These are normal people with families and friends who love them and they will be missed.  Most of them will never get any recognition after they die, but they will always be remembered by those who knew them as a great example and a true hero.  This made the movie into something worth watching, in my opinion, instead of just disaster-riddled movie.

The special effects are pretty good, but a bit repetitive.  There are only so many ways to make slow-moving lava look interesting and threatening.  Of course, there is really no easy way to evacuate a city as densely populated as Los Angeles, but I love that they didn’t even try to start moving people out.  Dude, if we ever get an evacuation notice regarding some huge natural disaster, I am out!  I will go wherever you tell me to go where I am going to be safe.  I am not going to be one of those stubborn people like those in Louisiana who stayed in their houses when Hurricane Katrina hit because these hurricanes are never as serious as they make them say.  No.  I am not that brave and I will leave and then come back when they say it is safe.  I want them to tell me to leave.  I did not find this part of the movie very believable (because, of course, the rest of it is so realistic – not!) as I feel like the first thing the city powers-that-be would do is to start an evacuation.

Anyway, I caught this movie on TV and it was fairly entertaining.  I don’t think that there was anything that special about this movie so it is easy to skip it, but I thought it was decent.  If you see it come up on TV then you can pull it up for a decent nights-in entertainment, but you don’t need to go out of your way to catch it.


This movie features a lot of death, dying and suffering. Some of the deaths involve screaming, body parts combusting and sounded really painful.  It was a little bit more detail than I was looking for so just keep in mind there are some intense scenes that are not appropriate for young children.  I am not sure how bad the language is, as it was edited out on TV, but the movie has a PG-13 rating so it cannot be that bad. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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