I've learned something from this, however. The first time we saw "Volcano," we were seated in the theatre with Dolby Surround Sound (or something like that), feeling as if gallons of lava (or magma, if you insist) were being poured down on us, and we were very, very excited. It was the first action movie of the summer, and it looked to be better than "Dante's Peak," which wasn't that bad. As a result, we took everything very seriously. The movie created the expected effects: suspense, anticipation, exultation, a sense of union and a desire to bring peace to all mankind, etc., etc. We have the hero with an overwhelming sense of responsibility (Tommy Lee Jones as Roarke), the required disaster film female (Anne Heche), and a teeny daughter who grows up along the way, even a little doggie to care for. We were satisfied, for even though we realized that the idea of a volcano appearing in the middle of Wilshire Blvd was pretty ludicrous, we were willing to believe in it, just this once, to be the gullible, dumb audience. Plus, it was good entertainment.
Flash forward to November. It's late night, we're bored, there's nothing else to rent, and we ultimately decided to choose "Volcano" over "Grosse Pointe Blank" (which I have not seen yet). Not many of us are in the mood to be scared, to get excited, or to take anything seriously. We're just tired and bored. Amazingly, everything in "Volcano" became hilarious: the movie seemed comical.
"Wow, look at that white fluffy stuff on Tommy's eyebrows. . .Har har har har har. He is so old. That girl looks way too old to be 13. Oh come on, he can't jump that far. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!! Oh my God, that lava bomb just happened to land on a patient, har har har. Okay, so what is she doing now. . .A basketball? What is that?? Guffaw, I can't believe the reporter can look so serious saying that. That lava looks so fake. Gosh, Amy must have x-ray vision to see Roarke running around from that far."
Well, you get the idea. Due to a change of atmosphere, attitude, or whatever it was, a supposedly suspenseful, dramatic action film turned into a film we loveed to ridicule. Or maybe it's because the second time, the movie just doesn't work anymore. The "exciting action sequences" seem like mere plot devices to forward the movie to its ultimate climax. Even at the end, we feel cheated because this is supposed to be a volcano erupting? The movie might as well be titled "Lava," rather than "Volcano." To compare it to "Dante's Peak," as it is the fashionable thing for movie reviewers to do, this movie is bigger, better, but as a result, more laughable. The disaster film moral message (that when we are in need we are all humans we need to put down our differences etc etc) loses its effect the second time around. It's one of those "Independence Day" type movies, the kind everyone loves to ridicule, but if we put you in a theater, I doubt you wouldn't want to watch it. Not that I don't like the movie anymore--I just think it's fun both ways, don't you? Hmmm, a trend of the 90's disaster film scene, maybe?
Rating: B (First viewing, sometime in spring 97), B- (Second viewing, 11/9/97)