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Volcano (1997)



Average Rating: 4.5/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 8

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 180,087

My Rating

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

Dec 18, 2001

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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All Critics (42) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (22) | DVD (7)

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.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop 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.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A host of characters is introduced in the opening scenes, but Volcano doesn't know what to do with them. It can't make us care.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Volcano is an absolutely standard, assembly-line undertaking; no wonder one of the extras is reading a paperback titled "Screenwriting Made Easy."

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

September 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix | Comment (1)
Boston Phoenix

not mean to be taken seriously

February 2, 2008

[The characters] aren't people; they're mere objects to stick in front of the flowing lava.

October 3, 2005 Full Review Source:

The star is, of course, the volcano effects. Seeing the coast become toast may be the biggest draw for audiences to this routine F/X extravaganza.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Movie bombs L.A. with lava, audience with stupidity

June 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

The special effects are impressive and the acting by Jones and Heche is good, although their roles didn't require much skill or inspiration.

October 14, 2003 Full Review

The film, about a volcano erupting in downtown Los Angeles, is helped immeasurably by veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones, who has enough charm and charisma to rescue just about any movie. He needs it all to save this one.

March 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

On its own escapist terms, Volcano dishes up a textbook serving of low-I.Q., high-energy entertainment.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

The action, the effects and tough-as-nails Tommy Lee provide a worthwhile thrill ride -- even if the last drop wasn't as big as you thought it would be.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

gives us the bare minimums needed for a story and then lets the lava flow

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

There's no real suspense here 'cause you don't care about anyone.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The visuals are colorful, but the script is just terrible.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

I don't want to pay $7.50 to watch a movie imitate CNN.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: SPLICEDWire

Oh, there's nothing like a natural disaster to bring people together!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Volcano is an embarrassment, albeit one of the so-bad-it's-kinda-good variety.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

These things can be done well or badly, and Volcano goes full steam ahead.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

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!.
September 14, 2012

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.
October 27, 2011
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

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.
July 26, 2010
Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

    1. Mike Roark: I can't leave you here after an earthquake.
    2. Kelly Roark: Dad, I'm 13 years old, I know what to do.
    3. Mike Roark: Ok, What do you do?
    4. Kelly Roark: Get into a doorframe, stick your head between your knees & kiss your ass goodbye.
    – Submitted by Matthew D (23 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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