Sunday 14 December 2008

Movie Review: Volcano: Fire on the Mountain (1997)

A fledgling California ski resort is built on a long-dormant volcano that has not seen an eruption in 200 years, but things are about to change.

As made-for-TV movies go, this one ticks-off all the boxes. Not a single character has more than one dimension. Check. The only geologist in the United States to forecast the eruption is the former boyfriend of the local mountain ranger. Check. The local mayor does not want to cause panic during tourist season and has never seen Jaws. Check. The heartless local entrepreneur is desperate to sign a business deal with a rich investor to develop the resort into something beyond a couple of shacks. Check. The local sheriff's wife is pregnant and about to give birth amidst the chaos. Check. The re-united lovers will cheat death a half-dozen times, including having to walk across a thin log with a raging lava inferno below them. Check. And a local boy will become a man by committing a heroic deed. Check.

The acting is reassuringly wooden, the script (five different story-writers or teleplay authors are listed, which is five too many) appears oblivious to the amount of dripping cheese around the edges, and the directing by Graeme Campbell is devoid of any flair or creativity.

Dan Cortese is the geologist who overnight becomes an expert mountaineer, and Cynthia Gibb is his former and once-again girlfriend mountain ranger. Together they spend a good chunk of the movie trudging through the wilderness, exchanging glib one-liners as they somehow avoid incineration or even dehydration while all the snow around them melts instantaneously as the volcano erupts.

This TV movie passes the time as it touches all the routine bases, but it's not necessarily time well spent.

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