1997 was the year for disaster movies. It seemed like every director wanted to jump on the big budget, destroy everything bandwagon and in doing so produced some mediocre attempts at film-making/story-telling. Dante's Peak was one of two volcano based disaster movies, the other being 'Volcano'.
Dante's Peak sees us 5 years earlier where volcanoligist Harry Dalton (Pierce "I am 007" Brosnan), is trying to escape a raging volcano with his current love interest who inadvertantly falls victim to a stay bit of volcanic rock. 5 years on and Harry is on a mission to expose another dormant volcano in the quiet town of Dante's Peak.
It's a case of Harrys hunch about impending disaster vs the preciseness of very expensive seismic sensing equipment. Who wins? Harrys hunch of course otherwise we'd have a half our movie with the town carrying on as usual.
As the hunch is correct, the volcano starts to awaken and its a case of evacuate the town as quickly as possible but for one stubborn mother in law who wants to remain in her home at the base of the volcano/mountain. Fair enough, she can stay there is the decision but when you've got 2 little kids who don't want her to die and who can drive pick-up trucks and leave a note for mummy that they're off to rescue grandma, well our hero can't really turn his back on a photo opportunity now can he.
The kids are the daughter of the Mayor Rachael Wando (Linda "I got dumped by James Cameron for some broad on a sinking ship" Hamilton). She is the love interest of Harry and well, there has to be a reason why they go to rescue the trouble makers.
Anyway, what happens for the next 30 minutes is just eye candy. Well stale eye candy at best because it's not really done that great. I didn't go to see this movie in the theatres and hesitated to purchase it on region 1 dvd after all the "wow factor" comments and I'm glad. It's a simple plot and nothing really worthy of demo material either.
The video quality is exceptional as we can expect this from Columbia but I did notice a few scenes with some amount of grain. This is mainly due to the type of film used for those scenes so it's dismissed pretty easily.
What you will notice is that at times DP is a dark film but in the midst of it all you get very high detail and sharpness, exactly what you come to expect from a good mastering job. None of this over used edge enhancement crap.
Towards the end of the movie we are treated to alot of strobing and quick movement as the ash of the volcano falls across the screen. In spite of these factors the transfer holds up perfectly.
Alot of people bragged about the region 1 version being demo material. I agree, if they only meant for the odd occasions that the entire sound field was used but that doesn't cater for the rest of the movie.
I must say I was a little disappointed, I guess I expected a bit more from what I had heard. Although, there are some great sounding purple patches within the movie, only let down by the ordinary special effects.
In the opening credits you are treated to a bass feast with alot of directional "magma" spurting. Another scene is the boulders rolling down the side of the hill as you can almost feel them hit the floor around you.
Throw in a handful of helicopter scenes with various fly-bys and you've got yourself a decent audio meal for the evening.
Standard template for a hollywood movie script, standard effects, standard audio, standard review. Blah blah blah.