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Face Off: Volcano vs. Dante's Peak

02.20.2014by: Dave Davis
In last week's Face-Off column, filmmakers Paul Verhoeven and John McTiernan went up against each other. Considering the fantastic movies that they've both given us, I couldn't decide on a clear winner... and it looks like most of you agreed that it should be a tie!

In honor of director Paul WS Anderson's historical adventure/romance/tragedy POMPEII arriving in theaters this weekend, let's look back at the last time lava poured into theaters -- specifically 1997, when two competing volcano disaster movies were released, DANTE'S PEAK and VOLCANO.
CAST
Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Don Cheadle, Gaby Hoffman, Keith David, John Corbett
Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton, Elizabeth Hoffman, Tzi Ma, Grant Heslov, Charles Hallahan
STORY
After a minor earthquake strikes Los Angeles, a geologist (Heche) tries to convince Emergency Management director Mike Roark (Jones) that a volcano is rapidly forming under the city. When "lava bombs" start launching out of the La Brea Tar pits and magma pours through the streets, Roark must come up with a plan to save the city.
Volcanologist Harry Dalton (Brosnan) believes that the mountain in a small Washington town is actually a volcano getting ready to blow, but he has a difficult time persuading his colleagues and the town's mayor (Hamilton) to evacuate the citizens. Shortly after, panic and chaos ensue as the volcano erupts and demolishes the town.
SOLUTION
Create a blockade with concrete barriers and cool the lava with water dumped from helicopters, and then blow up a bunch of public property to make channels and divert the remaining lava into the ocean
Drive a truck into an abandoned mine shaft to escape the exploding volcano's deadly pyroclastic cloud, and then hope someone comes to the rescue
DIRECTOR
Mick Jackson, who also directed the Steve Martin satire L.A. STORY, the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston romance thriller THE BODYGUARD, and the Claire Danes HBO movie TEMPLE GRANDIN
Roger Donaldson, who also directed the Mel Gibson/Anthony Hopkins ship mutiny THE BOUNTY, the Kevin Costner thriller NO WAY OUT, the Tom Cruise romance COCKTAIL, the Robin Williams comedy-drama CADILLAC MAN, the sexy killer-alien flick SPECIES, the Cuban Missile Crisis movie THIRTEEN DAYS, and the Jason Statham period heist movie THE BANK JOB
LEG-MELTING RESCUE
When lava begins flowing into the subway tunnels, the Metro chairman leaps into the magma to save an unconscious train engineer
As their metal boat is being quickly corroded by the acidic waters of a lake, the mayor's ex-husband's mother jumps into the toxic water and pulls the boat to shore
KIDS IN PERIL?
Yes, Roark's teenage daughter is injured and taken to a hospital, which is later directly in the path of the flowing magma
Yes, the mayor's young son and daughter (and their dog!) are constantly in imminent danger
TAGLINES
-The Coast Is Toast

-It's Hotter Than Hell!
-The Pressure is Building...

-Whatever You Do, Don't Look Back
BOX OFFICE
$122 million worldwide
$178.1 million worldwide
VOLCANO
I can't lie -- I don't think either VOLCANO or DANTE'S PEAK is a particularly good movie. They're both filled with cardboard characters, aggravating skeptics and made-for-TV melodrama, and are both pretty dull up until the destruction begins.

DANTE'S PEAK may have been the bigger success at the box office, but it keeps the devastation limited to a small town and attempts to present believable science, while VOLCANO feels a bit more like the 70s disaster movies that preceded it (EARTHQUAKE, THE TOWERING INFERNO, METEOR) by raising the stakes in a heavily populated city. It amps up the ridiculous factor with "lava bombs" hurtling through the air and devastating recognizable landmarks (which the following year's dueling asteroid disaster movies ARMAGEDDON and DEEP IMPACT would also revel in). And besides the always amusingly cantankerous Tommy Lee Jones, VOLCANO also has Keith David.

Agree? Disagree? Which movie do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

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7:41AM on 02/21/2014
Dante's Peak if I had to pick. I agree that neither is a particularly good movie, though I did enjoy them both as a kid.
Dante's Peak if I had to pick. I agree that neither is a particularly good movie, though I did enjoy them both as a kid.
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9:10PM on 02/20/2014

Dante's Peak


I always liked it more because it was more realistic. I'm old enough to remember Mt. St. Helen's blowing and Dante's Peak always reminds me of that.

I always liked it more because it was more realistic. I'm old enough to remember Mt. St. Helen's blowing and Dante's Peak always reminds me of that.
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5:59PM on 02/20/2014
Ive always preferred Volcano just because it was more fun and didnt take itself as seriously as Dantes Peak. Volcano knew what it was: a tentpole summer film trying to duplicate was Twister did at the box office. Dantes more scientific approach kinda bored me.
Ive always preferred Volcano just because it was more fun and didnt take itself as seriously as Dantes Peak. Volcano knew what it was: a tentpole summer film trying to duplicate was Twister did at the box office. Dantes more scientific approach kinda bored me.
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+0
3:47PM on 02/20/2014
Gotta go with Dante's peak just because I've been through the town where they filmed it many times so it's cool to make that connection
Gotta go with Dante's peak just because I've been through the town where they filmed it many times so it's cool to make that connection
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12:20PM on 02/20/2014

Bond vs Volcano

Dante's Peak every time. I actually just watched Volcano not too long ago and it was corny but entertaining. When I was a kid though, Dante's Peak was up there with Independence Day. Its cheese but it's damn fine cheese. Plus 8 year old me thought James Bond saving everyone from a Volcano was awesome. ... Let's be honest, 24 year old me thinks the same!
Dante's Peak every time. I actually just watched Volcano not too long ago and it was corny but entertaining. When I was a kid though, Dante's Peak was up there with Independence Day. Its cheese but it's damn fine cheese. Plus 8 year old me thought James Bond saving everyone from a Volcano was awesome. ... Let's be honest, 24 year old me thinks the same!
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11:11AM on 02/20/2014

Dante's Peak

Because . action matters and the level of technical perfection is required for us to get into a movie like this. Volcano was a mess even back then and TLJ looks really fed up,otherwise a fine actor. It doesn't matter if your destroying the world or a small town it matters that it looks cool getting destroyed. PB always makes a very good action lead and the supporting cast is not too shabby.
Because . action matters and the level of technical perfection is required for us to get into a movie like this. Volcano was a mess even back then and TLJ looks really fed up,otherwise a fine actor. It doesn't matter if your destroying the world or a small town it matters that it looks cool getting destroyed. PB always makes a very good action lead and the supporting cast is not too shabby.
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10:57AM on 02/20/2014
Dante's Peak was the better one...c'mon an f'n volcano under LA?!
Dante's Peak was the better one...c'mon an f'n volcano under LA?!
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10:25AM on 02/20/2014
Dantes Peak
Dantes Peak
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9:48AM on 02/20/2014

Volcano sucks...

DANTE'S PEAK used some smart science whereas VOLCANO treated us like morons. Also think it had better characters and pacing.
DANTE'S PEAK used some smart science whereas VOLCANO treated us like morons. Also think it had better characters and pacing.
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+0
8:58AM on 02/20/2014

LOVE THIS FACE-OFF!

Haven't seen these in years but as a kid I remember loving them and being sprung with Anne Heche. I'd go with Volcano here as well.
Haven't seen these in years but as a kid I remember loving them and being sprung with Anne Heche. I'd go with Volcano here as well.
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9:00AM on 02/20/2014
Volcano only because its so utterly ridiculous! I remember the super slow motion of TLJ at the end just so he could save the little boy. And the lava not getting through the barricades haha
Volcano only because its so utterly ridiculous! I remember the super slow motion of TLJ at the end just so he could save the little boy. And the lava not getting through the barricades haha
8:31AM on 02/20/2014
I read an IMDb post once from a guy saying that every time he's watching Dante's Peak, it's under the guise that it is Pierce Brosnan as James Bond on an under cover mission to stop this volcano the whole movie.
I read an IMDb post once from a guy saying that every time he's watching Dante's Peak, it's under the guise that it is Pierce Brosnan as James Bond on an under cover mission to stop this volcano the whole movie.
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1:58PM on 02/20/2014
Sometime after Bond fails to stop the volcano erupting, Blofeld and SPECTRE use it as their secret base.
Sometime after Bond fails to stop the volcano erupting, Blofeld and SPECTRE use it as their secret base.
8:29AM on 02/20/2014

Dante's Peak

Name a better compound-fracture scene! Plus, they saved the dog. Good opening, too.
Name a better compound-fracture scene! Plus, they saved the dog. Good opening, too.
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8:13AM on 02/20/2014
Dante's Peak is the one where some folks get cooked in a hot spring pool, yes?
Seem to remember that being fairly nasty.
Don't remember much at all about Volcano, so DP gets the win from me.
Dante's Peak is the one where some folks get cooked in a hot spring pool, yes?
Seem to remember that being fairly nasty.
Don't remember much at all about Volcano, so DP gets the win from me.
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8:02AM on 02/20/2014
They're both shit, but 'Volcano' has more unintentionally funny moments.
They're both shit, but 'Volcano' has more unintentionally funny moments.
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7:49AM on 02/20/2014

Dante

While I like both, Pierce has more charm and I prefer Linda Hamilton for female lead. It's James Bond and Sarah Conner.

Plus, the science was more plausible in Dante's.
While I like both, Pierce has more charm and I prefer Linda Hamilton for female lead. It's James Bond and Sarah Conner.

Plus, the science was more plausible in Dante's.
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+1
6:47AM on 02/20/2014

Funny thing about this Face Off...

Both Volcano and Dante's Peak came out in 1997, which is also when Face/Off came out.

Both movies are terrible, but Dante's Peak is more terrible so I'm voting for The Volc. Anne Heche and Cheadle!
Both Volcano and Dante's Peak came out in 1997, which is also when Face/Off came out.

Both movies are terrible, but Dante's Peak is more terrible so I'm voting for The Volc. Anne Heche and Cheadle!
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5:55AM on 02/20/2014

Dantes Peak

You have Bond and Sarah Connor going against a volcano.
You have Bond and Sarah Connor going against a volcano.
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5:48AM on 02/20/2014

dantes peak

Im not voting against taffin!!
Im not voting against taffin!!
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5:07AM on 02/20/2014
I agree with Jedd. Dante's Peak is more scientific accurate but boy! Volcano is so much popcorn fun-time at the movies.
I agree with Jedd. Dante's Peak is more scientific accurate but boy! Volcano is so much popcorn fun-time at the movies.
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4:27AM on 02/20/2014
Dante's Peak is more authentic and accurate, Volcano is more ludicrously entertaining.
Dante's Peak is more authentic and accurate, Volcano is more ludicrously entertaining.
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+3
4:10AM on 02/20/2014
I remember seeing Dante's Peak and thinking why the hell is that grandma jumping out of the BOAT!
That has always scarred me since I was a kid. Therefore I'm going with Peak
I remember seeing Dante's Peak and thinking why the hell is that grandma jumping out of the BOAT!
That has always scarred me since I was a kid. Therefore I'm going with Peak
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3:38AM on 02/20/2014

Dante's Peak

Has more of a nostalgic feeling for me.
Has more of a nostalgic feeling for me.
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3:35AM on 02/20/2014

Volcano for me....

I like both movies as a disaster movie enthousiast, Roger Donaldson is one of my favorite " unknown " directors ; but Volcano is better than Dante's Peak : it's more spectacular, more dumb, more fun and there is also in that movie a very good, IMHO, description of the Los Angeles society, the movie shows the interactions beetween communities (latinos, whtite, blacks), their issues, their hopes, their desires, of course, it's a popciorn flick, but the first 20 minutes are a good description of
I like both movies as a disaster movie enthousiast, Roger Donaldson is one of my favorite " unknown " directors ; but Volcano is better than Dante's Peak : it's more spectacular, more dumb, more fun and there is also in that movie a very good, IMHO, description of the Los Angeles society, the movie shows the interactions beetween communities (latinos, whtite, blacks), their issues, their hopes, their desires, of course, it's a popciorn flick, but the first 20 minutes are a good description of Los Angeles.
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