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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Commentary - English
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Dir. Donaldson & Prod. Designer Washington
  • Featurette - Making of Dante's Peak
  • 3 Photo gallery - Poster Campaign; Production Design Sketches; Steeple Collapse Sequence
  • 2 Storyboards

Dante's Peak: SE

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 104 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Made in 1996, between GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, Dante's Peak is the little known 19th and a half Bond film. This time, Bond (Pierce Brosnan) battles his arch nemesis, Dr. Erupto, who has built a secret super weapon at his hidden lair in Dante's Peak. This weapon, ingeniously designed to look like a normal mountain, is actually a liquid hot magma-bomb which can destroy an entire town.

Bond, trading in the Aston Martin for a slightly less conspicuous four wheel drive, infiltrates the town at the base of the mountain under the guise of being a volcanologist interested in recent unusual seismological activity.
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Dirty water, shaken not stirred, naturally
With MI6 concerned that Dr. Erupto is ready to shoot his load upon the unsuspecting town, they instruct Bond to seek the assistance of the town Mayor, Mariska Blowmytop (Linda Hamilton), to thwart the dangerous magma-bomb and save the town from destruction.

Uncharacteristically, Bond falls for Blowmytop and her children, and when he fails to foil Dr. Erupto's plan, he has to warn the town and get Blowmytop, her children and her mother to safety. Filled with tension, exciting locations, exotic gadgets and classic villains, Dante's Peak is the most under-rated Bond adventure of our time.

Brosnan does away with the sharp Zegna suits and settles in with an open neck shirt made from 50% polyester/cotton blend, comfortable shoes from Grosby and a Bic retractable pen rather than a Walther PPK. He brings a believability to the role, and his genuinely warm interaction with a pre-buffed up Hamilton, lends their relationship a totally non-innuendo laden sexuality.

But the true star here is the mountainous magma-bomb. Completely generated within the computer realm and inserted into shots as required, it is integrated seamlessly with the live action and puts in a credible performance worthy of a 'Best Supporting Mountain' Oscar.
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Hmm, just as I suspected, a rock! That evil Dr. Erupto must be behind this!
When it blows its lid, the results are believable and impressive. The rivers of lava, the plumes of smoke and the ash falls all give an apocalyptic feel to the town's end.

Dante's Peak is entertainment filled with all the requirements of a good film: a story, some actors, a camera and a dog that can jump on cue. With these vital ingredients in place, you can be sure that when you settle in for the night in front of the box you'll have an enjoyable time.

  Video
Contract

A pretty solid film of two halves, the first being a happy natural and bright look as the town goes about its merry oblivious business. Then the second half is all dark and grey and grim, with debris and ash flying about and the lighting taking on a strobing look as the static lighting illuminates the sets.

The transfer is attractive, with a good looking anamorphic 2.35:1 print which is free from blemishes and other ugliness. It copes very well with the messy scenes later on, where it becomes a constant storm of ash flying about, something which must have pushed the encoding a bit. Detail is uniformly very good, and with the abundance of fine detail like the mountain landscapes and forests anything less would have been ruinous. That said, it doesn't quite have sharpness and clarity exhibited by more recent films, but coming from 1996 the result is admirable.

The only negative I can come up with is the badly placed layer change which is very noticeable on my player. Other than that trivial point, it's all good.

  Audio
Contract

It's hard to complain when they give you a good Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, then chuck in another good DTS track as well, even if it is only a 754kbps version. Whichever you choose, you're in for roughly the same sonically enjoyable ride, with things starting out quiet until the mountain goes boom and your speakers go nuts. The DTS sounds a bit louder and richer with better bass extension and slightly more detail to it. But the DD track doesn't fall much behind once you turn it up a little to compensate for the volume difference. With both, even when things are a bit manic you can still make out dialog clearly, and the effects don't gel into mush, with nice delineation.

  Extras
Contract

The Making of Dante's Peak (1hr:02min)
A good length for a feature, and this gives it all the time it needs to cover more ground than usually seen in your typical featurette. Topics include the casting, the visual effects, the location and... There's a lot of info right from the horses mouth, whether it be the actors, Roger Donaldson, Gale Ann Hurd, or the various heads of departments. Some of the shots showing how miniatures or effects are used then the resultant film footage demonstrates just how effective and involving it can be to create a special effects movie such as this.

Commentary - director Roger Donaldson/production designer Dennis Washington
Because of the substantial length of the feature above, this commentary works even better because you can have familiarity with the discussion before going in. Lots of ground is covered in a constant fashion, with the focus predominantly on the effects work, be it CGI or model based. They're rightly very proud of their achievements, and happily point out what was shot in camera and what was CGI, with the complexities of the real world effects just as important. This commentary can also be followed on screen with its own subtitle stream, so you can listen to the proper film audio track and read the commentary onscreen if you wish, something there really should be more of.

Production Storyboards
This is a set of boards for the hot springs scene, with the boards running first then the actual filmed scene following.

Production Design Sketches
A gallery of images covering various items, such as the town, buildings, scene concepts etc. Not very extensive, and the sketches aren't great.

Theatrical Trailer

Storyboards/Scenes (Digital Domain Still Plates)
This self-running featurette quickly shows the various plates assembled by Digital Domain to create some of the effects shots. There really could have been a whole proper feature on this aspect alone, rather than the 40 seconds we get.

Pyroclastic Flow Sequence
This is just another set of storyboards which then compares to the final filmed scene.

Steeple Collapse Sequence
A bunch of still frames taken of the church tower collapsing onto a bus.

Poster Campaign
Would you believe 44 variations on the poster design that all look similar? Believe it.

  Overall  
Contract

One of two volcano films released at the time, Dante's Peak is the better and probably the more believable, with the direction focussed strongly on mirroring reality as much as possible, while still being entertaining. There are some huge boo-boos that I'm surprised they left in, but if you switch off the ol' grey matter for a few hours you'll survive, and probably even enjoy this DVD.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2361
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      And I quote...
    "James Bond's greatest ever adventure has it all - a mountain, a dog, an unstoppable bad guy and now even a DTS track!"
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • TV:
          Philips 55PP8620
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB1070
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale WH-2
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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