It's always fun to watch studios compete against each other with basically the same idea...and almost the same time. Take "Dante's Peak," released 1997, then take "Volcano," released literally months after. Studios always think it will be a good idea to release the "same" movie, with different big name actors and see who will ultimately win.
Dr. Harry Dalton is sent to Dante's Peak, a long dormant volcano, to measure some recent seismic activity. After losing the love of his life to a volcanic eruption in Columbia years earlier, Dalton takes extreme care when studying volcanoes that are showing signs of activity. As Dalton continues to observe signs that the volcano might be awakening, he takes matters in his own hands. He goes straight to the mayor of the town, Rachel Wando (Linda Hamilton) and calls a city council meeting. He recommends putting the town on alert, which interestingly enough upsets the council. Dante's Peak had just been named "2nd Most Desirable Place to Live, Population Under 20,000" and they are hoping to get some new investors in their economy. The last thing they want to do is cause a panic...but they seem to forget all the lives in danger if something does happen. Dalton's boss immediately swoops in and stops them from alerting the town and causing a crisis. Dalton knows that there is more...and he will do everything he can to prove it...and when he does, do everything he can to stay alive, protecting Rachel and her two kids in the process!
Okay, so I am a big Pierce Brosnan fan. I think he was the perfect Bond...until after I saw Daniel Craig, but that is a different story. Brosnan is smooth, he has that appeal to him, and he typically handles his roles extremely well. "Dante's Peak" doesn't exactly have a lot of substance to it, but Brosnan still manages to pull of the role of Dr. Harry Dalton.
"Dante's Peak" was made before CGI was really implemented in most films so the special effects that you see are actually mainly real. The lava looks rather fake, but the explosions and volcano eruption is actually really good. Overall, it is fun to see how we can still be completely entertained by a film without all that jazz that is commonplace in movies made today.
"Dante's Peak" is not a fantastic movie...but it is entertaining. I most certainly liked it more then "Volcano," but that still doesn't make it perfect. Brosnan is good, but the supporting cast is just okay. The plot is standard fare, with most moments being extremely predictable. Taken as a whole, it is an entertaining film that is good for a viewing or two.
Presented with a 1080p VC-1 transfer, "Dante's Peak" gets a wonderful new release. Considering that it is 10 years old now, "Dante's Peak" looks like it was made yesterday. My only complaint is that at times it gets a bit dark, which does affect the overall quality. Most of the time the colors are beautiful and really pop. The blacks are nice, the skin tones are smooth and natural, and the detail is overall very good. Thankfully we get a very nice re-release of "Dante's Peak" that doesn't disappoint in the video world.
Here we get a 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus track that is actually quite nice. The surrounds are nice as they fill with the explosion of the volcano and rocks and lava roll around you in every direction. Even though "Dante's Peak" is a film about a volcano, it truly has a lot of dialogue. The dialogue is very even, and keeps up even in the loud scenes. My only complaint is that the low-ends just aren't pushed enough when the volcano does erupt. Other then that, we get a very fine overall audio track.
Getting Close to the Show - The Making of Dante's Peak: This is actually a very nice feature that highlights anything and everything about the film. It really does a fantastic job of giving us a behind the scenes look at "Dante's Peak." We hear from cast and crew, and get numerous facts about the film that sometimes go over your head, but most of the time are enjoyable and fun to learn. If you are going to watch one feature on this disc...this is the one to watch.
Commentary with Director Roger Donaldson & Production Designer Dennis Washington: This is just an okay commentary track, it is actually very technical, and both Washington and Donaldson never really get too enthusiastic about anything. They have some nice words about the actors and the jobs that they did, but the rest of the time is spent diving into how accurate the film is, and very technical aspects of the film. If you are a tech guru, this is definitely for you. Others, go ahead and skip this one as a lot of this info you won't even care about.
"Dante's Peak" is a fun, entertaining, popcorn flick. It doesn't have a lot to it, but it isn't supposed to. It is a film that is made to entertain and make us remember that we can't control nature. The audio and video is very nice and refreshing, but unfortunately we don't get a lot of features. I still can Recommend this to fans of the film, and those who just want a good flick that is made for a rainy day.