Movie Review: Volcano (1997)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1997 action movie starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche.

Synopsis: Mike Roark, the head of the Los Angeles Office of Emergency Management, has his vacation cut short when an earthquake triggers a volcanic eruption in the city. With no time to evacuate, Roark must find a way to stop or divert the steady stream of lava flowing freely through the city streets and the subway tunnels before thousands of people are killed.


I had an opportunity to watch this movie again this past weekend and, mostly because there wasn’t much else on at the time, I did just that. I had been a while since I had seen this particular film and I didn’t remember that much about it. But, after seeing it, I did find my opinion of the movie was a bit mixed.

Tommy Lee Jones is excellent in this film as Roark. He’s always strongest when playing a take-charge authority figure role and this movie played to those strengths. And, while I’m not a huge Anne Heche fan, I did think she did a decent job complementing him, though I was glad there wasn’t any sort of romantic involvement between the two (something I think would have ruined the movie completely).

I also found I liked the premise of this movie. After all, Los Angeles is a big city and the idea of a volcano erupting right in the city limits does have its merits. However, that being said, I wasn’t as impressed with the execution of that as I hoped to be.

This is mostly because, for all the talk about how destructive that volcano could be (including comparisons to Mount St. Helens), the overall destruction was honestly a bit tame and limited to some buildings and cars. I think it would have been considerably better had the volcano actually lived up to the expectations Heche’s character went out of her way to set, especially since the overall damage seemed to be limited to just a few city blocks.

Another thing I found I didn’t like about this movie was Roark’s daughter, Kelly (Hoffmann). I’m not a big fan of useless characters and her character does fit that description, mostly because she seems to be absolutely helpless. She couldn’t even move out of the way of a slow-falling building when the situation called for it and I can’t help but feel the film would have been considerably better had she not been in it or, at very least, we saw very little of her until the end.

Final Opinion

It’s an OK movie. But, there are plenty of ways it could have been better. Tommy Lee Jones makes the film watchable. However, it isn’t a movie that is anything special.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 09/08/2015, StevenHelmer
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