Volcano (1997)

(In theaters, April 1997) A volcano pops up in Los Angeles, a disaster movie ensues. Decent entertainment, but a better title for it should have been Lava, given that the actual volcano is never really “fought”. I thought the final “big” sequence seriously lacked any kind of clear suspense, but the remainder of the movie is okay. Points given for a self-aware treatment of the “saved pet animal” problem, points removed for trying to put messages in the script. Tommy Lee Jones is a credible lead, and Anne Heche… sigh… [Insert weak joke here about her relationship to Ellen Degeneres] Notice the structural similarity between Volcano and classical hard-SF “problem” stories: A problem, a competent hero (engineer!), high stakes, ingenious solution by hero, etc… As a book, more would have been expected (such a dealing with the other lava flows), but as a movie… I remain pleased.

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