Volcano (1997)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Disaster visits jaded L.A. in the form of an underground volcano, not the big earthquake all the citizens expect. Shot on the largest set ever constructed in the U.S., in nearby Torrance, California, Volcano is a big-budget, special-effects-laden disaster movie with a standard plot. Tommy Lee Jones plays Mike Roark, a by-the-book emergency management director who is spending the weekend with his daughter, Kelly (Gaby Hoffmann), when the previously-unknown volcano blows. Sassy, brainy scientist … More

Rating: PG-13 (violence)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Billy Ray, Jerome Armstrong
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 18, 2001
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment


as Mike Roark

as Dr. Amy Barnes

as Emmit Reese

as Dr. Jaye Calder

as Lt. Ed Fox

as Norman Calder

as Gator Harris

as Fire Chief

as Bud McVie

as Terry Jasper

as Kelly Roark

as Roger Lapher

as Armstrong

as Bob Davis

as Train Driver

as Panicked Woman/Nanny

as Train Passenger

as Pastor Lake

as Lydia Perez

as Middle Aged Man

as Nurse Fran

as Councilman Gates

as Chief Sindelar

as Museum Guard

as Ken Woods

as Kenny Lopez

as OEM Staffer No. 1

as OEM Staffer No. 2

as OEM Staffer No. 3

as OEM Staffer No. 4

as OEM Staffer No. 5

as OEM Staffer No. 6

as OEM Staffer No. 7

as OEM Staffer No. 8

as OEM Staffer No. 9

as Traffic Cop

as 5-Year-Old Chuckie

as 5-Year-Old Chuckie

as K-Rail Driver

as Survivor No. 1

as Survivor No. 2

as Fire Chief

as Displeased Protestor

as Second Protestor

as Ascending Cop

as Policeman

as ER Nurse No. 1

as Construction Supervi...

as Engineer No. 1

as Engineer No. 2

as Engineer No. 3

as Engineer No. 4

as Engineer No. 5

as Engineer No. 6

as Engineer No. 7

as Engineer No. 8

as Java Lady

as Passenger on Train

as Sgt. Riley

as Media Person

as Media Person

as Himself

as Himself

as Herself

as Herself

as Himself

as Himself

as Herself

as Media Person

as Himself

as Herself

as Herself

as Himself

as Himself

as Herself

as Himself

as Himself

as Himself

as Herself

as Himself - The Media

as Himself - The Media

as Herself - The Media

as Herself - The Media

as Herself - The Media

as Herself - The Media

as Himself - The Media

as Herself - The Media
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Volcano

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Volcano

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (14)

Never generates a head of true excitement, partly because the characters remain constructs designed to perform defined functions, and partly due to the time-worn hokiness of the whole disaster-film format.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Jones and Heche work hard to dig up an emotional rapport from next to nothing, while the slow but inexorable progress of the lava makes for more suspense than the usual slam bang firework display.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The coast may be toast, but it's the lava, covering everything like a malevolent tide of melted butter, that makes this a disaster picture that's tastier than usual.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Hundreds of screen technicians obviously slaved on the effects -- and for what? A dopey subplot about a bogus arrest. Soap opera involving Jones' injured daughter.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

Like the substantially better Twister, this film insists on a thunderous, exhausting pace that inevitably becomes deflating.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
New York Times
Top Critic

Pre-millennium tension is still the best explanation for the recent tidal wave of disaster movies--which hasn't made it any less boring.

Full Review… | September 5, 2009
Boston Phoenix

Audience Reviews for Volcano

The second volcano disaster film released in 97 and clearly a different tone, didn't do as well as 'Dante's Peak' and its easy to see why.

First off the plot, like most all disaster films, is completely identical to that other volcano film. This film kicks off almost straight away with the action and pending volcano but overall its all the same. Simply replace Brosnan with Jones and the fact no one believes him until it just darn too late.

From there on the film becomes a ludicrously silly action/thriller which really should be titled 'Lava' as that's all its about, you only see the small volcano for a few shots. You can look at this film as more of a blockbuster 'arcade' type as its not very realistic and overly flashy. Sure its got everything you would expect in a disaster film including the heroic sacrifice, obligatory dog, a few people being melted away in lava (had to have that!) but it also has so much cheese. The forced racism sub plot between a white cop and black youth who at the end make up and help each other seemingly vanquishing the hatred? OK its a good sentiment but holy crap its lame.

The film progresses ever predictably towards its ever so obvious happy ending as downtown LA melts n bubbles away. You just move from one catastrophic setup to the next, some with your typical heroic bookend and some with your typical emotional bookend. The effects are pretty good in places yes, gotta give the film that, the lava does look pretty hot and you do get a good sense of sweltering sheer heat from the action.

The final finale is an utter ridiculous joke that simply doesn't help the film a tall. The way they solve the problem in the time they have is just plain comicbook stuff, add to that the over the top end sequence for Jones which is laughable. Luckily the solid Tommy Lee saves the film from utter B-movie obscurity with his craggy features.

Nowhere near as good as 'Dante's Peak' and nowhere near as accurate with the facts. Not a total problem as we know off the bat this ain't no serious flick. Unfortunately you can't help but compare it to the superior earlier volcano flick which ticks all the right boxes including realism and thrills.

End of the day this just feels like some Hollywood suit thought how cool it would be to see how much destruction and mayhem there would be if you moved a volcano from way out in the wilderness to a major city. Yeah we can cause lots of shit to blow up and melt in a city!.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


Volcano is a decent disaster film with a good cast. Continuing the trend of epic disaster films, Volcano though engaging and somewhat entertaining and fun. However the film could have been much better than this and the film relies on clichés from the genre to establish its story. Volcano is entertaining, and is a decent disaster film; however it fails to do anything new or exciting with the genre. I mean the film is basically Dante's Peak in Los Angeles. There's a good cast here, and they manage to keep Volcano from being a total dud. I enjoyed the film, but the film could have been much better and the film does lack a bit, and leaves a lot to be improved on. Volcano can be viewed as a popcorn flick and nothing more. There's enough thrills here to be entertained, but the film could have been done much better. There are some cool special effects, but the film does lack in substance and effective story buildup. Some disaster films work well, but other scrape by, and this is one that almost becomes a dud. However there are enough good elements to make the film watchable and it's a decent action/disaster film for what it is. However if you want the better volcano disaster film, watch Dante's Peak instead. Volcano is a decent, entertaining film, but it could have been a much better film as well. I think that the plot was good, but needed to be a bit more developed; luckily the cast saves it from a total mess. A decent film to watch, but nothing ever great.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

The idea of volcano destroying the city was great. But representing the idea wasn't that great. Some of the scenes seemed a bit weird to me:
Why was Kelly Roark (Gaby Hoffmann) was still standing when the lava was coming straight towards her? I mean any person who have common sense would try to run away from it, right? Okay I do get it that the story line tells us that she will have to be in that place where the lava will attack in the end. But they should have think of some other ideas to get her injured instead of that.
Another scene that caught my eyes was:
How could Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) saw Mike Roark (Tommy Lee) from being so far? No matter how serious it seemed, I laughed at that part. It's like her eyes were working as binocular.
I think this movie was okay. Watchable.

Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

Volcano Quotes

– Submitted by Matthew D (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Volcano on our Movie forum!